9 creative alternatives to the business card
Part of our series on the future of Main Street
In a world with conventions, trade groups, and fierce competition for nearly every service imaginable, it's important for savvy businesses to have something extra to catch and keep a client's attention. And let's face it: The humble business card has become downright forgettable. Even putting your business' basic details on a little bit of swag isn't always enough. Pens, keychains, and the occasional beer cozy emblazoned with a business' name are so routine and dull that they almost guarantee you'll be forgotten.
This has encouraged a more creative approach among ambitious sellers. Turning your business card into an item of unique usefulness helps separate you from competitors, and makes it harder for a client to forget you. Here are some examples of clever and functional business "cards."
Lady Fortunes specializes in the sweet marriage of business and baked goods. They can even bake you up some business cards by putting an edible print of your actual business card on top of their frosted graham cookies.
This envelope was specifically designed for the Lush Lawn and Property Enhancement company by the design firm Struck. Unlike some business cards that are printed directly onto seed paper, the Lush design allows you to sprinkle the grass seed on your lawn while keeping the pertinent information on the "card."
Kevin Mitnick is a world-famous hacker, who, after being arrested and serving his time, set up a successful computer security firm. It is fitting that a man famous for breaking and entering past technological barriers would have such a unique and morally ambiguous calling card. His website sells the cards and hosts a video on how to use the tools it provides.
The JWT design firm in Brazil took utility in advertising to a delicious new place when they presented Bon Vivant, a cheese specialty store, with its new business card. It may not be routinely carried around in wallets in case of parmesan emergencies, but it will likely stay in a kitchen cupboard, and the minds, of whoever has one.
Lulu the Baker is a blog run by farm girl, chef, and all-around food fanatic Melissa Bahen. She distributes these clever little corked vials of sea salt, imprinted with her name and business info, when she attends conferences. Possibly the most savory marriage of charm, simplicity, and utility on this list.
When Kim, the blogger behind Blending Beautiful, set out to make business cards advertising her husband's web design business, they thoughtfully included a little bag of comfort with each card. Gluing together their own small bags from pieces of paper baring the logo, the couple inserted a tea bag (with the logo again pasted to the string tabs) and a formal business card. A soothing way to help set his business apart.
The Light Bulb Flashlight may be mass-produced, but it can still be a great business card alternative. The light bulb very cleverly raises from the base, making this gadget very useful, and very hard to throw away. Especially when it can fit right into your wallet.
8. Soap cards
It's a clever enough idea to include something as attractive and useful as soap as swag with your business card, but to actually have your business card in the soap ensures the message and the medium don't separate. Haley's Dragon Fly Garden can insert your business card into any number of clever soap designs, making your business the first to come to mind when a client gets to her hotel room for a hot shower.
9. Tetris card
The YouTube video title says it best: "My Business Card Plays Tetris." Designed by Kevin Bates, this card is tiny, but it has all the proper Gameboy-esque button placements and a replaceable battery that runs for up to nine hours. "Practicality" may not be the first word to apply to this ingenious little card, but desirability counts for something. Longevity, too. Your grandchildren will find this one day when they clean out your desk, and they'll play with it too.