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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.

6 Ways Your Business Card Can Still Pack A Big Punch

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.

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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

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“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.”

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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.”  

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[Image: Flickr user Richard Moross]

About the author

Lydia Dishman is a business journalist writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, commerce, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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