Are paper business cards passe?

A nice looking card, but nowhere to make a note.

The business card is a way to differenciate ourselves and our organizations. The paper stock, color, design, what we include and exclude, all make statements about a company, its employees, its corporate persona and its priorities.

Susy Jackson, an assistant editor for Harvard Business Review, offers an interesting perspective on business cards and a few alternatives in her new Harvard Business Review blog post titled,  “The Business Card is Dead, Long Live the Business Card.”

I like (sturdy) paper business cards. I collect them, save them, and when possible, add reminder notes about their former owners. To me it’s interesting how people and companies choose to visually represent themselves in a way that moves beyond a corporate logo.

Names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and web site addresses are common  on most cards today. A few include a Twitter handle. QR codes (see my previous post) seem to be the newest card component.

When it comes to what you put on a business card, is less more or is less – less useful? Finding a happy medium where type is a readable size, with adequate spacing and ‘white’ space, is important. I like a well designed card that implies the giver is as sharp as its straight edge, nothing fussy or some strange shape that’s not easy to file, or makes me cringe. (There are metal cards you can buy that are shaped like a razor blade – why?) If there is text on a card it should be well written. Some dislike cards with photos; my freelance card included one on the premise that  matching a face to the name would make it easier for recipients to remember me.

As smart phones proliferate, business cards may someday be as quaint as whatever mom used that you don’t. Someday we may just ‘tap and exchange information’ with our phones, as one app now allows. In the meantime, I think a paper card remains a useful medium of exchange, a reminder that we met and I hope you will call – or at least know how to reach me if the power is out and you can’t get on LinkedIn.

What do you think: Are business cards passe?

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