business cards

Going back to school means I need personal “business” cards. Much of b-school is networking, and if all goes well there will be a lot of people who wish to include me in their post-MBA business network.

I considered getting 4-color cards from a template at VistaPrint or some other web-based inexpensive-cards factory, but I think this is one of those places where it couldn’t hurt to do things right and set myself apart a bit from the crowd. So I’m going to get “real” cards printed at a local printer, using spot color and my own design.

Part of the problem of designing business cards is that there is the boring corporate style and there is the graphic designer style, and it’s hard to find something that balances the two appropriately. I thought about doing stamped cards but I’m not sure they’ll convey “nifty” rather than “cheap”.

Anyhow, I played around with a few designs (and Josh Zhixel contributed this) before ending up with this, my latest draft:

Business card (blog size)

The hook, so to speak, is that my name is contained within my email address. It’s not much but the line between hook and gimmick is subtle. I also tried it with blocks of color around the name bits but the descender screws things up a bit, and I think the name jumps even less with the color.

Maybe the back will be orange too, but I’m not sure it’s worth the extra cost. Regardless it’ll be on your standard matte business card stock.

Anyhow, what do you think?

(In case you’re curious or geeky in that way, it’s all Linotype Helvetica Neue: Bold Condensed for the orange bits, Thin Condensed for the rest of the email address, and Light for the bottom bit. Here’s what it looks like if I use normal width instead of condensed.)

15 responses to “business cards”

  1. Oh, I quite like it. I would definitely make the back of the card orange, too — it’s distinctive (there are a million white cards with a splash of color in the world) without being overly flashy.

    Simple but good, I say!

  2. If you’re concerned about cost, you might try Moo, which has been a really popular site for personal and business cards of late. They seem to have good prices and people like them a lot. You may already have a printer in mind – this is just a thought. :)

  3. It never ceases to amaze me how high end “designers” can make a beautiful yet painfully unnavigable and confusing web site. One would think functionality would be part of a successful design…

  4. tuliphead: Thanks — I’ve seen Moo before, I think, but they don’t seem to do business cards (3.5×2″), just tiny “minicards” (2.75×1″). For business cards for business use I think I need to stick with the standard size so that they mix with the other dozen cards recruiters and so on will be getting from my classmates.

  5. Minor critique: For some reason, the ‘@’ symbol feels like it’s on a slightly different orientation (i.e. slightly skewed to the right). I think it’s because of where the line actually ends at the bottom of the character.

    I suspect adjusting white space would take away that feeling, or using the bold-condensed character instead. Or turn it into a curve in a vector graphics program and ‘complete’ the symbol by pulling the end of the line a little further.

    All told, very nice, and no, it doesn’t seem at all gimmicky to me. On the contrary, I think it’s quite tasteful.

  6. What about doing the name/email all in capitals? That would get rid of the descender, though not sure how it would change the feel of the card itself. Also, I like Helvetica, but I’m kind of currently in love with Myriad Pro Regular.

  7. gcrumb: I hate that @. It’s actually the @ from the normal-width part of the family, because the condensed @ is wider. And yes, it’s italicised, but even better it’s got a single-story “a” even though the font has a nice curvy double-story “a”. I might just build my own @ out of the “a”. (I might also just suck it up.)

    Oh, hey, you know what it is? The kerning around the “.” is crap too. I’ll fix both ends.

    Pam: I’m really a lowercase sort of guy. The only problem with the descender was in that draft with the blocks of color, though, it’s fine in the final one.

    Helvetica was a very specific choice — before I knew anything about what I was doing on the card I knew it was going to be set in Helvetica, and Neue is a nice update to prevent it from looking too retro. I’m not a big fan of humanists for logotype.

    (Besides, the only company that can get away with Myriad on a business card right now is Apple. It’s so tightly tied with them right now that it might as well have been commissioned. It ought to be dead to the rest of the world for logotype now, but it’s everywhere anyhow.)

  8. I like it. I would go with the orange on the other side, but maybe not just flat orange? I can see a simple pattern looking nice on it, even if it was just in one corner. Maybe on that side you could include your details once again in the other corner. I think some people might not realize that your name is Rich Lafferty because of the way it’s written, so doubling up on the details in the more typical way might combat that. Then again, maybe that’s just repeatative and since you’ll be handing them out personally, I doubt confusion will arise regarding your name very often =P

    Almost completely unrelated but I met this woman at the convention I went to recently and we were discussing business cards. Because she works at conventions regularly and there are so many business cards being passed out, she really wanted to stand out so she actually had a card holder made that measures maybe 5×3″. It also opened like a formal card; this way it appears to people that it might actually hold something more, like promotions or free offers, and they’re more likely to hold onto it and check it out once home (especially swag collectors), while it’s also less likely to get lost in a pile of business cards.

  9. WRT the ‘@’: You’ve probably heard the story about the Emperor’s Vase, in which a priceless vase is broken, and the top craftsman of the Middle Kingdom is commissioned to make it exactly as it was before. Realising the futility of the task, the craftsman filled all the cracks with gold, making the vase more beautiful than before.

    This story was told to me by a theatre prof of mine, trying to explain how to deal with the imperfections inherent in any creation.

    I suspect that the answer might be more ‘@’ rather than less. If you superimpose the ‘h’ and the ‘l’ over a backgrounded (and faded?) symbol, you can set it apart from the rest of the text, in effect accentuating the difference.

    … Or you could just draw your own, as you suggested. 8^)

  10. sporetobemore: Hrm, pattern. Might be interesting. I only have those two colors to work with though without it getting more expensive, though. As to size: Self-promotion at a convention is a different story than MBA recruiting. The only message a non-standard card size would send is “This person doesn’t realize that business cards are a standard size”. Sort of like not wearing a dark suit to an interview or not printing a resume on white paper.

    gcrumb: Spot color! :-)

  11. Philip: Yeah, definitely. I don’t like the underscore at all. At e-smith we all had three addresses: first_last, first.last, and our Unix usernames, which were freely chosen but couldn’t be completely arbitrary. Most people used first name and last initial, although some used three initials, and a couple (including Skud) used their nicknames.

  12. When I had to do my own business cards I did my own design and got these guys to print them for me –

    They’re based in the US, but quite competitive price-wise – I had 250 cards made and shipped for just over $40.

    The other nice feature I got from these guys was a UV coating on both sides – it essentially is a near-plastic coating for the card that gives is a bit more weight and a nice smooth finish – makes the card last longer also. There’s pros and cons to this – you can keep them in your wallet and they always look pristine, you can hand them to someone in a bar and after someone spilt beer on them you can just wipe it off and it’s as good as new. The con being of course, that if someone wants to write a note on the flip-side, they’ll need a sharpie to do so!

    Looking at my receipt from a couple years ago from these guys, it seems like you can chose to get the UV coating only on one side – I went for both sides though and it worked out just fine for me.

    Good luck with everything!