Business Advice

Practical design: business cards with a difference


You’re given a business card – what happens next? Most people will simply stuff them in their wallets for retrieval later.

I wanted something different. Something with an ‘Oooo’ factor. Here’s what came out at the end of the creative process…

There are several things that are important to me:

1) Causing interaction
2) Being slightly different from everyone else
3) Making use of materials in new and different ways

So when I needed a set of business cards – fast – I wanted them to stand out from the crowd, not cost me a fortune and make people do something with them other than put them in their wallets.

Step one: Place all business card information on heat-transfer paper and print (remembering to reverse the image). Do this for both sides.


Step two:
Find an old shirt that’s gone past its usefulness as a tool to cover my nakedness. Line up the first side of the card and iron. Turn the shirt over, line up the second side of the card. Iron again.

Step three: Cut. Yes, I know the edges aren’t quite straight – but that makes all of the cards individual and gives them – I think – a handmade charm. I didn’t just go to a printer to get these made, I (and my partner) laboured over them.

Step four: Take a card where the transfer hasn’t quite lined up and screw it up. Stick it in a back pocket and walk around with it for a week. Sit on it.

Step five: unfold it to see how well the piece has survived. Could you do this with a normal business card?

Every time I’ve given out one of these cards, I get the following responses (in order):

‘Ooh that feels really nice’
‘How did you make it so rigid?’ (The double sided heat transfer paper gives the piece rigidity similar to a lighter weight business card)
‘What’s a metacommunicator?’ (Had a great argument with a physicist about this one)

So I’m delighted – the cards cause conversation. They’re also a bit different from the stack of other cards you’ll get given at any business events. And, importantly, they reuse materials that would otherwise get thrown out or turned into paint rags…

Plus they withstand being stuffed in a pocket, sat on for a week and can even go through a light wash. I’m not sure that a standard card-based business card would achieve that…

What are the best business cards you’ve seen in the past? Please share below…

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