(via The Fire Wire) A designer will be asked from time to time to design a "business system", by which we usually mean a coordinated system of stationery ... envelope, letterhead, and business card.
Doing this is fun. Not only do you figure out how to implement a logo and identity into a presentation, but unify it across various pieces. The opportunities I've had to do this (not nearly enough, and have I mentioned I'm available?) I can tell you there's a sort of rush you get when you can establish a solid connection between such disparate parts.
I imagine that sometimes, though, you get the client that allows the budget to really try and break out and do something delightful, aesthetic, clever, and even award-winning. I saw a few over at The Fire Wire today (the following images are hotlinked for commentary only. All credit goes to Larry at The Fire Wire). Here are a couple that really caught my eye.
This first one, right, is for a landscape engineer. The game goes in two stages. To the unaided eye, it looks like your normal business card ... but wait. We find out soon enough that it's an envelope; to be exact, a seed packet. We're further engaged by instructions on the packet that invite us to get in on the act with the firm:
For best results,
spread seeds then add Lush
Lush is, of course, the name of the firm (and an apt one at that). The card encourages you to have fun with it ... and when you're ready to take it farather, so are they.
Another of Larry's finds that I enjoyed quite a bit can be seen there on the left. A business card, complete in shrink wrap and a styro tray, suitably stickered, and your business card is now on the market ... the meat market perhaps, but designing is somewhat of a dog-eat-dog business, as I've found.
What I enjoy the most about this one is the way the supermarket-product paradigm was so skillfully employed, down to the realistic looking sticker on the outside. It might be too good ... you almost don't want to open it, because if you do, you'll ruin it. You can be too clever. But you can't deny the flash of inspiration that this involves, and the way it invites you in.
And for one more, let's get a look at the one on the right there. Kevin Mitnick is a legendary figure in the annals of computer security, and perhaps the most notable syscracker of the 20th Century. He used his mind like a set of lockpicking tools, famously ascertaining passwords and other access keys through shrewd social engineering (getting people to divulge priviledged information by sheer social manipulation). It's fitting, then that Mitnick's business card – made of metal – actually contains what appear to the uninitiate to be actual lockpicking tools. If you go to his site, you'll find a link to a QuickTime movie where someone actually uses these implements to pick a lock (and how you can get one of his cards for your very own).
Kevin Mitnick hardly needs to sell himself, but still, when you want to leave a signature, you go with what you know, with your passion.
I won't nick every picture from the article; just enough to make a point. What's the one common thing that all these cards have? They draw you in, make you a part of the game or allow you to have a little bit of the fun yourself. Certainly they're adventurous and brave. But by doing what they do, they share a little more of the card-issuer's passion and personality. You get to know them a little better. By the time you've met them again, they're not just a business contact, they're a friendly acquaintance with a sense of humor.
Business cards can sometimes do a whole lot more than we can count on. It just takes a little more inspiration (and, perhaps, the concomitant production budget).
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