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5 Iconic Business Cards and What They Say About the Men That Carry Them

by / ⠀Career Advice Entrepreneurship / February 5, 2014

The business card is the first tool of every businessperson’s arsenal. According to CNN,business card printing is a 10 billion dollar industry annually in the United States. With the click of a mouse, you can get beautifully designed cards delivered overnight. Unfortunately, 88 percent of those cards that are given out will be thrown away within a week, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. The business card is often the first piece of marketing that a potential consumer sees. A CEO’s business card tells a customer a lot about the person handing out the card, the company’s image, and the role that the CEO plays in the organization You may think that paper promo is passe, but every professional still needs a card. Here are some examples of famous people’s iconic business cards, and what you can learn from them:

Barack Obama

Despite what the tabloids may portray, governmental offices are solemn ones. As a congressperson and later, president, Mr. Obama needed to demonstrate the seriousness of his position. His business card has only the most basic of information: name, position, and contact information. Research shows that clients hold on to a business card 10 times longer if it uses color rather than standard white, according to Statistic Brain. Yet the only color on Mr. Obama’s card is on the seal. The seal of the office communicates a message of importance and allows the card maker the option to break many of the business card printing rules.

Steve Martin

The iconic comedian’s business card may seem funny, matching his particular brand of humor, but it also uses a powerful psychological tool called priming. As a non-conscious way of creating memory, priming associates a word with a perception, as Psychology Today explains. Showing a person the word “yellow” will make them faster at recognizing a banana because bananas are yellow. Now, that person is “primed” to see a yellow banana. When Steve Martin hands out a business card, it may get a laugh but it will also prime a person to see a warm, polite, intelligent, and funny man.

Andy Warhol

The avant-garde artist Andy Warhol’s business card is a piece of art unto itself. There is a sense of pride and accomplishment that is transmitted through his card. There is a branch of psychology called art therapy. In this form of therapy, as GoodTherapy.com highlights, it is believed that subconscious feeling will come forward through expressions of art. This is evident in Warhol’s card. It portrays a free thinking with a flair for being elaborate, even within simplicity. The fact that subconscious emotional content will bleed into the design should not be overlooked when creating a great business card.

Chuck Jones

The business card of animator Chuck Jones is a demonstration of brand recognition basics. Chuck Jones is the creator of famous cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig, according to ChuckJones.com. He chose to slap one of his iconic images, the Road Runner, on his card. The odds are that people will know the Looney Tunes cartoon characters, even if they cannot name the animator. So Chuck Jones’ business card is both a brand reminder to the recipient and a mini resume of his accomplishments. It allows him the ability to hand out a card and say, “I drew that”.

Harry Houdini

His name has become synonymous with doing the impossible. His business card reflects this. The triangle is a mystic symbol that goes back thousands of years. The All-Seeing Eye was an icon of the Egyptian deity Osiris and became chic during Houdini’s time, as SymbolDictionary.com points out. His business card was a representation of his stage act. It was gold in color, and pyramidal in shape to inspire images of a pharaoh’s tomb. Escaping death being the greatest of escapes, Houdini was the man from beyond the boundaries of mortality. His card seems to break the rules of business card design, but it is perfect for the great Harry Houdini.

Dorothy Rice is a small business owner who recently won a seat on her city council. Companies like Printing For Less are trusted business card design hubs that can help people convey their brands. 

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.

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