Should we rethink the concept of business cards in a post pandemic world?
On Wikipedia you can read that “business cards are shared during formal introductions as a convenience and a memory aid”… “A business card typically includes the giver’s name, company or business affiliation (usually with a logo) and contact information such as street addresses, telephone number(s), fax number, e-mail addresses and website.” Fax-number…? Who uses faxes anymore? During the recent pandemic, people migrated to work from home and the global industry of business cards took a substantial hit. The business card industry is now on a recovery path, but the question remains. Are business cards relevant in a post pandemic world?
My perspective on them has always been a bit different than just seeing them as a sales tool. Throughout my early career, every time I got a new job, the first people I would give my business card to would be friends and family. I would spend time explaining my job to my mother while she had that smile on her face that meant “I love you son, but I have no clue what your new job is.”. The card was my personal brand. When I got a job at Sony’s mobile division as a Launch Execution Manager, I couldn’t wait to share them with my inner circle – and in fact friends and family probably got over half of them.
So, what happens to that personal branding opportunity for the employee once companies start to cut back on business cards? As people work from home much more, they still need to feel connected with their company in a number of ways. We are long past the point when the purpose of sharing your company details was the main reason for creating a business card. That can be achieved digitally within seconds. What’s left is the personal brand. Unless you want to share that fax number no-one uses?
When companies pull out from creating business cards, or don’t give business cards to roles that are not in sales, are they missing out on a host of opportunities that are not only important to the employee, but represent a piece of the individual’s identity – and a physical manifestation of word of mouth for the company.
In our company, Playground TV, we put a great deal of thought into how we wanted to build on the personal brand of our employees? How do we get our team to feel connected with the company, with each other and talk about their role and what they do even if they are sitting at home?
Our Creative Director came up with the idea of creating trading cards as opposed to business cards. We developed an idea based on our belief that all our employees are superheroes. We hired each and every one of them for some super hero talent(s) that we thought they could bring to the company. With that in mind, the concept of creating characters for all of them developed as we considered what talents or powers they had that could create a talking point.
We worked with a fantastic illustrator who understood our brief perfectly. We created a superman, a terracotta soldier, an elf, a Jedi, a chef, an Azeri dancer and a basketball player to mention just a few. It was a hugely rewarding process not only creatively, but helped us to get to know our team members better and understand some of their passions outside of work.
Part of the creative idea was to position the cards as trading cards within the business. Employees would be able to trade them between each other and start to collect their colleagues cards. It gives them an opportunity to learn more about the roles and interests of other people in the business. We built on this by developing stickers and posters with colleagues’ avatars on them, which they are free to stick and post wherever they want to.
This has meant that colleagues see how they fit into the business, and feel that they’re part of something bigger than just their own role. Hopefully they feel that the company values what they do. We have given the team copies of their poster and stickers to use in their home office, connecting everyone with a creative idea that brings us all together.
I would love to see the concept of business cards transform into trading cards, or a version of them. Somehow I think that this is what they were meant to be – a piece of personal branding and brand super heroes for the company carried out by each employee. I hope to see more of this sort of brand development being shared at the next tradeshow I attend, and I would be happy to share my personal trading card.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said; “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.” I would love to hear that someone said when I left the room. There goes Daniel, he thinks he is a Jedi.
I’m about to give my new business card to my mom. No doubt she will look at my Jedi avatar card, smile and say “I love you son, but I still have no idea what your job is.”