In an age of “who screams the loudest” branding, I am relieved to see a small, yet growing, minority of individuals and companies embrace the “less is more” mentality. It may sound cliché, but quality trumps quantity. This is something that has been forgotten here in the land of all-you-can-eat buffets and XXXL and it is hard for anybody to be immune – myself included. There are exceptions to the rule, but they are so hard to come by these days. Commercials, websites and billboards are crammed with colors, slogans and word clutter because many companies are just too lazy to sit down and do the hard work of finding the key message they want to convey.
I bring this up to preface my appeal to all of you to invest in the now forgotten calling card or visiting card. It is not the same thing as your business card which these days reads like a phone book (Tel, Fax, Ext, Cell 1, Cell 2 etc.). Although, born from stuffy aristocracy, the calling card is a simple and elegant way to introduce yourself not only to anyone really whom you might meet and want to exchange basic contact information. It is certainly not as advanced as bumping your cell phones together or madly typing out the other person’s information into your BlackBerry, but it does the job far more quickly and elegantly and does not require batteries or backups.
It can and should be as simple as your name, phone number and e-mail address. The information you print is at your discretion and should fit your style of interacting with people. Keep in mind, though, that a calling card means that you do want to be reached by that person at any given time. Use a simple and elegant font, non-glossy white stock and avoid any illustrations unless you have a particular icon you feel you must display (you never know when family crests will make a comeback). Try letterpress to give it a vintage touch. If customization by Crain’s or Smythson (understandably) turn you off then online printing makes this seeming “luxury” very affordable. Make sure to keep a couple in your wallet and you will realize that the exchange occurs in just a few seconds, but has much more staying power than today’s hyper-connected technological means of passing on your information. You can give it to teachers, doormen, friends, play dates, babysitters, pediatricians and even potential clients you meet in more casual social settings and anyone really that you feel would need to contact you for any reason.
Maybe I am being a bit too nostalgic and many of you (especially those with business cards) may find it superfluous, but I find that many people I interact with on a daily basis are appreciative of the gesture that shows that some thought went into how you want to present yourself – personally – to others.