“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card. How you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.” ―Jay Danzie
The human mind works in peculiar ways. We are striving hard to make this a digital world. Yet, there are certain things that we still prefer in their original form. It’s the era of e-books. However, ask an avid reader, and he would prefer the hard copy of a book to the digital version. There’s something personal about touching a piece of paper. It emotes in its own way.
It’s the same with business cards as well. They have evolved over the years and adapted to the changing trends. The bottom line is these cards have survived through the years and will continue to do so. Their design, texture, and fonts may change, but exchanging cards will never go out of fashion.
It is an effective means of personal marketing that has survived the digital storm. Business cards are compact, portable, and simplify the communication process. They inform the receiver about your name, company, designation and contact details. The contemporary business cards are chic, eye-catching, and innovative too.
Let’s have a look at how today’s business cards came into existence.
Going by popular belief, Meishi was one of the first forms of ‘name cards’ used in the 15th century. These small handwritten bamboo cards had their origin in China and included a person’s name. Initially, it informed the commoners of a royal visit. It signified the importance of a person. Later, it became a calling card that helped identify one’s visit. It was a medium to inform or request people of a meeting. In Chinese, ‘mei’ means name and ‘shi’ can mean to stick or even paper or card. Centuries later, Meishi found its way into Japan. It became synonymous with their business cards. Traditionally, one had to hold Meishi with both hands and hand it over in a similar manner. You could not hide any details nor bend it. The taker too had to receive it with both hands, read it, and bow.
These cards made their way into Europe, especially France, in the 17th century. It was a slightly modified version of the Meishi. It radiated royalty with engravings, embossments, and gold elements. European aristocrats sent out these cards to prospective hosts. Their respected footmen delivered and received them. Since they served visiting purposes, they got the name visiting cards. These cards made possible social interactions of all kinds. Whether one had to crack a business deal, meet a friend or woo a lady, these cards came in handy.
London businessmen used trade cards to distribute among their clients and potential customers. It was self-marketing and helped create brand awareness in the 17th century. It also provided directions to a store, while some used it as invoices as well. In an age where there was no GPS or navigation help, these cards helped people spot a shop with ease. This was one of the main purposes of introducing a trading card. One side included the business details while the other side had a map printed on it.
Carte de Visite
They took it a step further and introduced a photograph along with the owner’s details below. This simplified recognizing individuals. French photographer Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi first patented it in 1854. People used it to exchange among friends and fellow businessmen.
It was the advanced version of Carte de Visite. It was longer and had the photograph and owner details on one side. The photo studio’s details were on the other side. This acted as a marketing tool for both the owner and the photographer.
The modern-day business card is the perfect blend of visiting and trade cards. It has come a long way since Meishi came into existence. It integrated personal and business details into a single card. We can use it for personal and professional purposes. It is the most recognized way of exchanging personal information across the globe. Earlier, it only contained the name, address, phone number, and other basic details. There have been many variations, inclusions, and subtractions ever since.
Including social media handles and email ids have become a common phenomenon. Some prefer to include prominent quotes and wordings as well. Many have rubbished the notion of a rectangular-shaped business card. Unique business cards are trending these days. It goes beyond exchanging basic information. It comes in various shapes and designs and can be custom-made as per your requirement. They use high-quality paper and in some cases, they also make it out of plastic or PVC. They also use wood, metal, and even CDs to make eye-catching cards. Handwritten cards are a rarity. People prefer printed cards instead.
Future of business cards
Evolution is inevitable and it applies to business cards as well. There have been some revolutionary innovations in this field too. Geeks have found a way to merge technology and business cards. It leaves a long, lasting impression.
- The USB business card comes in the shape of a USB drive. You can insert them into your computers or laptops and it will take you to the user’s web page. At one go, you will have all the information required.
- QR business cards are gaining popularity. It comprises a QR code. You can scan the vCard QR code with your smart phone and get all the details. It directs people to your official site and gives them a plethora of information. It saves you the time and effort of typing or noting down the details. Scan it and save it.
- Some cards have a magical effect, courtesy electric ink. With the help of conductive ink circuitry, these cards work wonders. Users just have to tap the card against their mobile screen to access information.
- The keyboard card, as the name suggests, is a mini keyboard. It has three keys and you can connect it to your PCs. It’s a technology overdose but serves the purpose. It takes you to the company’s website.
Business cards have stood the test of time. They add a personal touch to marketing. They also help connect better with potential clients and customers.