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Analog Marketing and Our New Business Card Design

by Nic Darling on February 3, 2010 · 15 comments

in Design,Development,Marketing

I decided recently that I would write an occasional post about our marketing strategy. It seems to be something that a good number of people are interested in, and I find that writing about a topic helps clarify my thinking and create new ideas. If you aren’t into this departure from our normal programming, I apologize. Rest assured, we will be back to the green building/design content you have come to expect right after this post.

Business cards are an odd analog moment in our increasingly digital world. They seem a remnant of a distant past where contact information was actually stored on paper. There was something called a phone book and a Rolodex back then. People even sent non-bill related information through the mail. The office hummed along to the sound of fax machines and dial-up modems, and professionals shamelessly displayed email addresses that ended in It was a far cry from today’s digital address books and CRMs, but the business card, like some vestigial organ, has remained.

Even in the most progressive business environment the business card is the norm. At networking events, meetings and even causal meet ups, one is expected to be able to present a concise description of oneself, with attendant contact info, on a 3″ x 2.5″ piece of card stock. This seems increasingly odd as our technology allows us to exchange the same basic info without any kind of physical transfer, and yet it endures.

The business card, I think, touches on a basic desire to exchange something physical upon meeting. It is a ritualized activity in our commerce driven society that calls on something more primal. The card is also reminder made physical. It persists after the meeting in the way a text message, iPhone bump or email doesn’t. It is there when you empty your pockets. It is there when you clean your desk. It is there when you go into that drawer you never open with all the other business cards you have been intending on entering into your contact database. The card carries with it a piece of the meeting from which it came and has the ability to spark memory in a way particular to physical objects.

The card also transmits information beyond the intended data. The quality of the stock and printing tells us something. The design elements and fonts communicate more than the construct of their words and images. We may never judge a book by its cover but a person by their business card . . . that’s fair game.

I am personally conflicted over business cards. The pragmatic, digitally obsessed part of me finds these antiquated informational scraps superfluous in the face of better, faster, data-sharing methods. This part of me advocates the relegation of the business card to the scrapheap of history where it belongs. But, the designer in me relishes the opportunity to speak in the beautiful language of ink and paper. To create something tangible in a world of one-second web sites and emails that constantly fall beneath the fold. The business card, to this part of me, is like a tiny, insignificant vice. To create a physical thing with so much less impact than the binge-style wastefulness of brochures and pamphlets feels alright somehow. It is just a business card after all.

Well, enough pontificating. Business cards will persist or not without my input and for now, it appears, we need one. In designing the new Postgreen business cards I made an effort to capture much of what it is we try to do online. I attempted to make our digital presence physical in however small a way. The following is what I came up with. I have included all three of the designs for the fronts of the cards and one of the back to give you a full impression of the approach. Take a look, and then, if I haven’t already put you to sleep, read on to get a sense of my thought process behind the design.

The overall design was conceived to mimic the clean, minimal look represented by and I tried to let the overall feel of the card be compelling without overt explanation. This is, of course, a calculated risk. Nowhere on the card does it explicitly say what it is we do. However, the white space encourages note taking by the recipient, and the hope remains that one will feel inspired to explore through the contact information on the back.

The back of the card features prominent, legible contact information. The intent here is to emphasize the idea of accessibility we are always trying to convey (with mixed results). Hopefully, the exaggerated attention paid to the contact information will encourage the recipient to use it. They should get the impression that the card’s owner wants to be contacted. They should feel that this is the person to call with a question, a critique or, even better, an invite to grab a beer.

The front of the card features a silhouette and a list of “titles” that range from the everyday to the absurd. This is intended to capitalize on our individual personalities as part of the brand. We want to loan ourselves to Postgreen in an effort to make our brand more human and approachable. This isn’t a new idea. Even big companies use this strategy to great success. Apple leans heavily on the personality of Steve Jobs and Virgin is basically buried in Richard Branson. Smaller companies, I think, can get even more out of this type of personality driven marketing, particularly if the people behind it are approachable and interesting (are we?).

So, there is a little look behind my thinking when developing our new business cards. Believe it or not, I could actually expand on the above quite a bit if I felt anyone was interested. If you are interested, or if your particular brand of masochism involves tedious explanations of relatively simple processes, then you know where to find me.

For now, let me know what you think of business cards in general and ours in particular. Do you feel that business cards still play a role in marketing? How did I do with hitting my design goals with these cards? What would you add/subtract from my designs? Should I be less long-winded in the future?

Tell me about it in the comments.

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lavardera February 3, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Great cards Nic – but I’d still sneak your physical office address in there somewhere. Yes, I know, the street address is a potential spoiler, the obsoleter of printed media…

2 Sarah February 3, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Bad ass. As much as I love the internets and the digital world, there are still analog holdouts that I’m fond of: hand-written letters, old records and beautifully crafted paper goods all reign supreme.

3 David February 3, 2010 at 9:56 pm

This is excellent work. I love the design. Unfortunately, to me, you look like Hitler, and Courtney looks like she is blindfolded. :-(

4 john February 4, 2010 at 12:09 am

Ha! Def agree with the hitler look…might want to tilt your head more…business cards are old school…I’ve worked for 3 companies over 8 years, 500 cards per company….I still have at least 1200 of them…

I understand your need, but def not very green…print them yourself (heavy, respectable stock) on-demand…I do dig the design…a lot. Maybe I can get on the payroll at $0/hr just to get one?

5 Morgan February 4, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I love the cards, and after david’s comment i guess the there is a gleam of Hitler, maybe you could be the Nazi of Awesomeness. I like business cards, and agreet hat we do judge by them, just as we judge comp[anies or products by their website, business cards are like shoes, some are saddle shoes, some are spike heels, some are really comfortable and stylish sneakers, and others are made by children in 3rd world countries.

6 Nic Darling February 4, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Wow, I feel like someone here should have mentioned the Hitler thing before I printed. I never noticed, but then one rarely sees the despotic homicidal dictator in oneself.

Courtney’s cards have not been printed yet, so she may get saved from the blindfold.

7 Kelly Gidzinski February 4, 2010 at 6:02 pm

This post was so timely in that I was just poking around looking for your business card to give you a call. I see the Hitler thing. Stinks you already printed. Well I left you a voicemail and look forward to talking with you.

8 lavardera February 4, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Ok, as consolation I can see a really funny Hitler Bunker Rant meme video coming out of all of this, starring Hitler as Nic, with PostGreen interns gathered around the table and map of Kennsington.

Nervous intern: ummm, Mr. Darling, we noticed that the drawing of you on the new business cards, well, you look like .. Hitler.

Nic:(dismissive) It does not matter, we’ll revise it before we send it out to print…

Other nervous intern: uhhh, Mr. Darling, sir, we’ve already printed the cards and they arrived today.

Nic: What? You printed the cards and I look like f-cling Hitler? Everybody who does not think I look like Hitler step outside..

9 Cyndi February 5, 2010 at 9:17 am

I like business cards, and I like the design overall, but Court looks much prettier than that! Hope you can change her pic…..

10 Will February 5, 2010 at 11:24 am

What happened to the triplex post?
I like the layout that pulls in the most rent!!

11 Achim February 16, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Great post, great assessment of the need for b-cards! I have shared this within my company and hopefully it will trigger some thought for change.

I agree btw with the comments about the ‘Hitler-look’. I guess as a German native I naturally picked up on it right away. You may want to re-consider the layout somewhat and change the shadows.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

12 bob February 17, 2010 at 10:50 am

I would definitely look into letterpress rather than plain old ink on cardstock When I saw a letterpress business card for the first time I immediately threw away all my old cards.

13 Hollie February 18, 2010 at 3:50 pm

That actually was not boring at all, and helpful in an extremely unhelpful way because now I feel like I need to do a lot more work on my cards! Woe is me! Anyway, I enjoy the design of your cards save for the aforementioned hitler-esque picture and blindfold.

And as for the guy with 1200 old business cards – I’m sure there is a creative way to get rid of them like cladding a dog house with them or something. I have little plastic samples of Lutron switchplate colors, and I have often thought about arranging them on the side of our chicken coop. I might still do it.

14 lawless February 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm

I like the personalization of the sillouettes. Adds a nice touch to an otherwise impersonal artifact. Also, it gives you a quick reminder of who the person was (hitler or the blindfolded girl ;D) instead of having to remember the name and business.

I’m sure WordPress would love the fact that you used their logo as the ubiquitous sign for “blog”. I had to check out the websites though to see the differentiation between and

Tight work overall though. Print media is still an art form all its own.

15 Nic Darling February 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Oh Hitler . . . yet another reason why the world would have been better of without you.

I actually changed Courtney’s so the blind-folded girl is gone. I’ll post a picture of the new card soon.

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