I managed to save at least one business card from every job I had where a business card was required. Looking back on them now, I see these cards as symbols of my professional life.
The very first business card I had didn’t have my name on it. I was a summer relief account representative for a radio station. Management did not want to invest in a box of calling cards for someone who would be with them only a few months.
I remember typing in my name of some of the cards so that my clients could ask for me if they called back. If you ever sold radio time, you would know that no one ever called me.
I have cards from my years as a television journalist. In fifteen years as a reporter and producer, I amassed cards from television stations affiliated with the three major networks: ABC, CBS, and NBC.
I got out of the business before FOX became a television network. I have cards with a different look from the same station as frequently these stations would change their logo to give their image a new look.
I have cards with logos I either designed or approved the design of from a couple of organizations where I was the person in charge. I wasn’t much of a designer, but I did insist on one basic principle for the layout of a business card: the phone number had to be in a typeset large enough for the naked eye to see.
Even today, many business cards try to cram too much information into the small space. The most important thing on the card, the phone number, is often so small that I feel as though I need a microscope to read the number.
I also have a card from the time when I was looking for a job. It had my name, address, email address, and phone number (all in large type). Someone told me I should put some highlights of what I could offer an employer on the back of the card.
I didn’t want to spend any more money on printing, so I left it just the way it was. Fortunately, I wasn’t out of work too long.
All of my business cards read horizontally, as opposed to some cards you see where you must turn the card a quarter turn. Someone said this was a good idea because it would stand apart from all the other cards someone had.
As a person who accepts business cards from associates, I can tell you that I’d rather have them the standard way.
When I think of unique business cards I received over the years, two examples come to mind. One was from the Eastman Kodak Company. Their employee business cards back in the 1990’s were photographs, printed on Kodak paper (“for a good look” as their commercials at the time would say).
The other unique card came from Allen-Bailey Tag and Label, Incorporated in Caledonia, New York. This manufacturer of tags and labels for industrial, medical, and professional applications uses a calling card that is a business card size version of a price tag complete with reinforced hole at the top.
They still use that design, and according to company Partner and Director of Marketing Richard Phelps, Junior, the tag style goes back to before 1975 when he joined the company. “It was a man by the name of J. N. White who I believe first proposed it to Allen-Bailey,” Richard says. "JN was our resident artist at the time and he went on to found his own company, J.N. White Designs.”
Richard says in his nearly forty years with the company, the card design still gets lots of comments. “I've yet to hand out one of my business cards at a show or face-to-face with customers when it does not generate a response for its uniqueness.”
This year, Allen-Bailey added the QR Code on the back of the card. The code is linked to the company's website. The company is looking to link the code to the person's individual contact profile within Outlook.
I look at the business cards I had over the years, and I think about each and every job I held. With all the changes in technology and business practices in the digital age, it’s nice to know that one tradition, the exchange of business cards, continues to thrive.
Nothing beats the old fashioned business card.
Steve Newvine lives in Merced. He’s grateful to the team at Allen-Bailey Label & Tag for providing him with a picture of their current business card.