Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why the Business Card is Thriving in the Electronic Age

 The details may vary. Americans sling their business cards casually across a table; the Japanese make the exchange of cards as elaborate as a tea ceremony. Some cards are discreet. Guangbiao Chen, a Chinese tycoon, crams his with titles such as “China earthquake rescue hero”, “Most prominent philanthropist of China”, “China’s foremost environmental preservation demolition expert” and, in case you didn’t get the message, “Most influential person of China”. But the swapping of business cards is as close to a universal ritual as you can find in the corporate world.

Business cards have been around a long time in one form or another. The Chinese invented calling cards in the 15th century to give people notice that they intended to visit. European merchants invented trade cards in the 17th century to act as miniature advertisements. They can provoke strong emotions. Nothing will provoke more discussion at a board meeting than the design of the company’s business cards, says a veteran director. In Bret Easton Ellis’s novel, “American Psycho”, the serial-killer antihero tries to impress some fellow masters of the universe with his new business card. He is crestfallen when they all whip out equally fancy ones—and aghast when one produces an absent colleague’s card, which is on thicker paper and has a watermark.

Lots of companies try to turn their cards into miniature plugs for their products. Employees at Lego give out miniature plastic figures with their contact details stamped on them. McDonald’s business cards are shaped like a portion of fries. Bon Vivant, a Brazilian cheesemonger, uses a miniature cheese-grater as its card. A Canadian divorce lawyer once gave out cards that can be torn in two—one half for each of the feuding spouses.

Read the rest here.

1 comment:

  1. I continue to order-utilize pulp books vs. e-books, even ones that are available for free (as opposed to the pulp version). Virtual world environments (Avatars in exotic online worlds) in part did not revolutionize business-social practices, due to need for physical contact. Technology and humans are not always the expected match the tech. innovators may think will occur. We see in this instance of continued pulp business card use yet one more example.