Professional business cards

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Some historical facts about professional business cards

Sending and exchanging greeting cards for holidays and other occasions is a personal practice familiar to us all. For businesses however, exchanging contact information via professional business cards is vital to networking and maintaining communication on a level that would otherwise be somewhat cold and corporate.

Where did the idea of professional business cards come from?

Professional business cards have gone by other monikers down through history. They evolved from the old visiting cards and calling cards of an era long faded into the mists of time, and were in the format of a small paper card upon which a name was carefully printed. Originally Chinese and dating back to the 15th century, these calling cards were delivered to the footmen of aristocrats and royal personages who would then pass them on to the servants of their prospective hosts as a solemn notice of their impending arrival.

These old visiting cards were the foot in the door, so to speak. In Europe as well, the tradition flourished, especially in the 17th century, and visiting cards became an indispensable tool of proper etiquette to be used only under very specific, politely correct circumstances. The first visiting cards appeared in France during the reign of Louis XIV. Many were highly ornate with embossed lettering, engraved ornaments and elaborate coats of arms. The etiquette concerning the use of professional business cards has gone through many changes to accommodate the modern world and its needs, but the original concept remains unchanged.

Professional business cards in today’s world

Professional business cards are an important part of the networking process. Sharing particular information about a specific company or individual, business cards are often exchanged during formal introductions as both a convenience and a memory aid for future referral requests. Information usually includes: the card-holder’s s name, company affiliation (often with a logo) and contact information such as street addresses, telephone number(s), fax number, e-mail addresses and website. Traditionally, many professional business cards were simple black text on white stock, but today they are sometimes adorned with striking visual designs.

Professional business cards are printed on some form of card stock with exact parameters dependent on national or local norms, the desired effect, method of printing and cost. Some companies even trademark their spot colors; such as UPS brown, Los Angeles Lakers’ purple, and Tide's orange. More spot colors can be added depending on the needs of the card. With the onset of digital and batch printing, it is now cost effective to print professional business cards in full color.

A business card can also be coated with a UV glossy coat (offset-uva Printing). The coat is applied just like another ink using an additional unit on a sheeted press. Cards can also be printed with a digital copier, which uses toner baked onto the surface of the card. Some industry leaders have begun avoiding using the term copier in their literature, insisting their state-of-the-art machines are more like digital presses. Fold-over or "tent" cards, and side-fold cards are popular as well. Generally these cards will fold to the standard size.

In today’s global marketplace, it is not uncommon for professional business cards to be printed with English on one side and the local language (if not English) on the other. Before deciding on professional business cards for your company, shop around for the right color scheme to make the right impact, but avoid neon. Also consider the desired font, size, type of paper, etc. The story your company has to tell and the products and/or services it provides is like no other and the business card representing it should be the same.

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