6 Ways Your Business Card Can Still Pack A Big Punch

MOO.com pioneered business cards the size of a stick of gum; the company expects to churn out 100 million in 2012. Here's how to leverage that small bit of paper into a big branding opportunity.

Richard Moross wants you to know that business cards are alive and well. As the CEO of MOO, the company that pioneered those clever mini cards with do-it-yourself design options, Moross says the business of printing may be 500+ years old, but it's doing quite nicely, thank you very much.

Since its founding in 2004, the company has a seen its compound annual growth rate exceed 100%. MOO.com now has hundreds of thousands of customers in nearly 200 countries and printed 50 million business cards last year alone. Moross is expecting that number to double in 2012.

Which is why Moross brushes away talk that exchanging cards is going to go the way of the horse and cart. Not only does he order and give out thousands of his own cards every year, Moross maintains, “The more connected to the web we are, the more precious the real world is, so it is important to make a connection.”

That connection comes in the form of a handshake, a look in the eye, and the passing of the card. “It is hard to generate trust virtually and convey your personality through a Skype call,” Moross explains. Though he says, “we sell the most boring products in the world,” Moross notes that business cards are resilient for a number of reasons, not the least of which is simplicity. “You don't need to upgrade the OS. Everyone understands what it is, and it just works.”

For all their genteel simplicity, MOO's cards captured the attention of some pretty tech-heavy businesses. Recent partners include Airbnb, whose hosts are encouraged to use MOO cards to showcase their digs to prospective guests, and Facebook. Moo’s Facebook Cards are personalized featuring any of your Facebook Timeline Cover Photos on the front and a custom quote (or favorite status update) on the back.

These collaborations drive home Moross's fascination with the way design on the diminutive bits of paper can break the ice, build relationships, and strengthen a brand. He sat down with Fast Company recently to discuss how he gets maximum impact from a mini card.

Be Yourself

"I give out thousands of cards but I take a lot, too. I'm an avid collector. I mainly take pictures of places I've been and meals I've eaten and use those on my personal cards. There's a story behind each [image]. For instance, I had octopus raw and shredded in Bangkok once. It looked disgusting but it was marvelous. Those are the things that people find memorable when they rifle through the cards they got that week and they remember you."

Ice Breaker, Not Deal Breaker

"Typically I give my cards out at the beginning of a meeting; that way the recipient can put it in front of them, and, if there are multiple people in the room, no one forgets anyone's name. I like to lay all my cards out on the table and have people pick their favorite. Each one is different and it makes for a really fun introduction."

Make a Useful and Productive Tool

"We mostly print flat rectangles, so it's pretty straightforward at a fundamental level. But there is a very specific reason for the size. When I first designed [the mini card] I did in the shape of a regular business card, but stripping away all the wasted white space made it more personal. Because it is a strange aspect ratio there is some cropping you get to do [when using your own photos]. The fact that you are going through the editing process is quite liberating. You get to really show who you are."

Photos for Everyone!

"There is a camera in every device now and the proliferation of photography stored on the web—Facebook is the largest depository on the planet. To get people to use [their own photography] in business and personal cards is a powerful application. It is almost like a subversion of the cheesy real estate photo, you can suck the photos into MOO's website and do pretty low intensity design work, and it's very memorable and impactful."

What Not to Print

"Other than something illegal, pretty much anything goes. We have had some customers order trials of...offensive graphics, and we block those users. Most of customers are creatively inclined and we are often delighted by the types of cards people make because we hand check everything."

Lasting Impression

"I think business cards will prove more resilient than books. We are in the identity business and the next stepping stone will include the ttransfer of information [from the cards] into devices. There is still something important about real-world tokens, though. MOO's mission is not just to transfer information, but to keep it."  

Related:

For more leadership coverage, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn

[Image: Flickr user Richard Moross]

Add New Comment

10 Comments

  • Susanna Schick

     I love my MOO minicards, and they always get an "oooh!". However, I've been told more than once that they were lost because of their  small size. And PLEASE make a bigger font option! There is still more white space than necessary and I've gotten complaints about the small font.

  • Rosie Baillie

    I got some Moo cards a couple of months ago and I love them. There are six different images on the back of them, so quite often I get people to choose which one they want, which is a great ice breaker. 

  • ctdfalconer

    For actual business cards it's easy to go off the rails with DIY designs that may not come off as serious enough to your clients or vendors. I agree with Mogwai insofar as the more is riding on your corporate identity, the more critical it is to get it right. For personal cards, I would say anything goes. If they just represent you personally, they should show some personality.

  • John Ruzicka

    I like my Moo Cards - got them about 6 months ago and have photos of my travels on the back.  Great conversation starter when someone flips over your biz card and there's a picture of me at the Great Wall of China.

  • Joe Rucci

    If you have an iPhone you should look into "Dittle". It converts all your social media and other contact info into a handy QR code, then let's you manage and track the usage. Rather take or handout a business card and have to scan it at some other point, why not just scan it directly into your smartphone (which is where you ultimately want it). Best part is that it is totally free.

    http://www.dittle.me

  • Mogwai

    If you have real, business aims for your stationery: to represent yourself as competent, professional, accountable – even if your services *are* creative – don't blow the opportunity; see a competent graphic designer who understand those aims.

  • Louann Oravec

    We have Neat Desk at work. I scan in everyone's business cards, ever the double sided ones. Also receipts, and documents. It is so easy to find things when you need them.

  • Hana Guenzl

    Hi Lydia,
    Thank you for the good points about business cards. I am a brand strategist and businesses don't realise that a business card is the 4th element within their brand identity. Brand as an organization, brand as a product, brand as a person and lastly brand as a symbol. This is what business card should represent when it's given out - it's vital to include all 4 elements, so customer can easily bring to mind the brand identity.

    Have a nice day and thank you for the post.  Hana Guenzl www.deepvisionimage.com.  Will share your post on twitter.

  • Anne Kleinman

    I agree with Mr. Moross that Business Cards are not going away anytime soon. 

    We actually took this thought a step further recently, showcasing some really different, alternatives to the traditional paper business cards in a blog post http://adinfinitumcorporate.wo...