Business Cards – A Brief History of Introductions

Business cards have been around for a surprisingly long time. Some historians place their origin in China during the 15th century. Then as now, what was made in China soon found its way into the Western world. By the time of King Louis XIV’s time reign in France no courtier would be seen dead without a calling card that their footmen would dispense to servants of a prospective host.

With improvements in the printing process, cards became more affordable and found new uses. People continued to use them as visiting cards still, but now tradesmen also left them with customers. With little in the way of addresses in the 17th century, the maps included on the back of a card meant customers could find them.

Today’s cards still provide the ideal way to quickly and concisely communicate essential information.

The card should have the name of the card holder, their title, the company, and relevant contact information such as address, email, telephone and even social media handles.

A well-designed card offers breathing room around the text and graphics. This effect is often referred to as white space. It helps to create an upscale look that allows your card to be easily read; it also gives you space to jot down a few notes right on the card — many consider that good practice in remembering details about a new acquaintance!

Advances in technology now mean that you can connect your business card to the internet. By using a QR (Quick Response) code on your card, the recipient can be taken to any precise point on the web that you choose, simply by scanning the code with a suitable reader available to most smartphones. You can see an example on my card below.An example of a modern business card with a QR codeIt’s because of such developments that you should regularly review your card’s design. Examine your logo – does it still reflect your company’s core values? Are your colours and fonts looking out of touch?

Once it was considered proper to have a serif font for businesses and today they still have a place with certain logos. With the development of online content however the sans-serif fonts have grown in appeal, looking cleaner and more modern, and they are easier to read when a small point size is required.

Serif and non-serif font exampleManufacturing processes continue to evolve, and today’s business cards can be die-cut to almost any shape and size, have a myriad of finishes and coatings, and be in countless colours.

An example of a die-cut cardThe US alone pumps out over 10 billion cards annually. You can use your business card as a calendar, a loyalty card, an entrée card, an instruction guide…its purpose is limited only by your imagination.

Business cards can quite often be the first impression you make on someone. What do your cards say about you?


About Jeff Polley

I'm interested in life and making the most of it. I have a fondness for good coffee and scintillating conversation. I don't act my age. For more you can follow me on Twitter - @xmpieman
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2 Responses to Business Cards – A Brief History of Introductions

  1. David Jelks says:

    @Mr. Polley: I too am a business card fanatic and feel that business owners and entrepreneurs do not place enough value on them. Considering the fact that they can set the tone for your business and what it stands for, more care should be taken with the design and structure. I own an online print business and emphasize to all my clients how important this miniature billboard is.

  2. My business cards have been an essential tool! I find it less stressful to talk about the product I created because I have business cards that actually showcase what I am talking about. I developed a set of southwest flash cards for kids. The back of each of my business cards shows each animal I painted. People are able to pick out which they prefer. Here’s a photo of some of my business cards:

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