'Business cards are anachronistic': How agencies are sharing contact details

Business cards may be becoming obsolete, but there will always be agencies wanting to make a good first impression, even if it’s not with a rectangular piece of cardboard. When it’s your job to stand out from the crowd, there are other ways of communicating your brand and your contact details. Here are some creative, useful and elaborate alternatives to regular business cards.

The beverage
“Business cards are anachronistic, 99 percent of the time you don’t expect people to notice them,” said Christian Perrins, head of strategy at creative digital agency Wasted Creative. “We thought ‘what do people really want in their hand? A beer!’”

Waste Creative, nestled in London’s craft-beer brewing scene, decided to brew its own. The Waste Pale Ale comes in two versions, the 2 and the 4, and has a couple of unique qualities like containing ingredients from the birthplaces of its three founders: honey from Kosovo, malts from England and hops from New Zealand. The brew has a 6.66 percent ABV, marking the agency’s launch on 6 June 2006, plus each employee’s contact details on the back, of course. Producing 200 bottles every couple of months, the beer is always in demand with clients.

This year the agency sent out beer along with virtual reality Google Cardboard headsets to show off its work. “It was a time intensive way to show our showreel,” admits Perrins, “but anything that shows a little ingenuity is worth the effort.”

While it’s useful putting your name on a product, Gitam BBDO in Israel has printed details on spice sachets, packages for consumables do have a downside of being disposable too.

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Waste Creative’s pale ale.

The figurine
The figurine, perhaps made popular by Lego, is not exactly practical, but they make a good impression, especially if you can show off some of your 3D printing skills. Which is exactly what Dutch digital agency Resoluut did when it 3D printed superhero versions of its staff, with contact information underneath the figurine of each employee showing their superpowers.

The agency, which specializes in site design and user experience, said that because design is a product, designers are its heroes, and it dreams of having them as action figures. One Swedish entrepreneurial photographer not shy of self-promotion went a step further and created 400 action figures of himself.

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Resoluut’s super heroes.

The tech demo
Paper business cards don’t scream digital aficionado, so overlaying technology can add a little finesse.

“If you have digital content that you want to show off, like a site, a video or social contact information, you can’t do that with a piece of paper, augmented reality takes it to the next level,” said Antoni Heatley director of Cutlass Communications. “It allows you to have the personal contact.”

Most augmented reality cards require you to download an app like Layar or Blippar, which is a a clunky extra step, but even though augmented reality has been around for a while, there’s a resurgence in interest. “Particularly after the Pokemon Go craze things have picked up,” said Lissa Beach, account manager at augmented reality company Magnetic.

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How Cutlass Communications use AR.

The cut-out design
In advertising, beautifully designed contact cards come with the territory. London-based design agency Chomp eschewed the regular rectangle and, taking inspiration from its name (and its logo), printed its card with a bite-sized chunk taken out of the corner, emblematic of its appetite for great design.

It was designed to be simple and memorable, according to the agency’s director, Richard Knight. “The response is always a ‘wow’ moment — we always get a positive reaction and the usual ‘did someone eat your card’ comment — great ice breaker!”

Dutch agency Counter Creative, another case of nominative determinism, modeled its cards on take-a-number tickets you’d find at a counter. The performance-based agency designed its card to be each client’s ticket to creative results. While any irregular design has the bonus of being stand-out, it’s also more difficult to slip into a wallet.

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Chomp, (left) Counter Creative (right).

The wacky job title
You could be a Copy Cruncher, a Word Herder, or perhaps a Web Kahuna? Maybe a Master Handshaker, or just a humble Superstar DJ? According to printing company Moo.com, these are in the top 20 most popular artistic interpretations of job titles’s printed on business cards.

While this works to strike up a conversation, creative job titles can quickly date or sound cliché. For it to work, it needs to add a little flavor to what you do, while still explaining what your job is, like creative agency Bidlack’s use of Bean Counter as its accountant’s moniker.