If professionally you are a words person who has nothing to do with visuals, does your professional persona need to be visually on point? You can probably guess the answer. There is, after all, that whole cliché about “a picture being worth a thousand words.”
- But to what extent should a wordsmith toil to find that visual representation?
- How much to spend on it?
- How often should it be refreshed?
- And if you don’t ever know what a visually spot-on brand identity looks like, who can tell you?
After many years struggling with these questions, I believe I’ve found the experts, at the specific Internet address MOO.com (short, sweet, quirky — this startup has good words, too). Since the moment their ads hit Facebook a few years ago, the simple beauty of their card designs and the clever company branding stuck in my consciousness… and apparently, had the same effect on dozens of my peers. At this point, who among us has not had a colorful square card from MOO pressed into our hand at some business meeting?
As we head into the period when many self-employed folks and small business owners are planning out the year ahead, I asked MOO to address visual brand identity. Brendan Stephens, Global Creative Director, was kind enough to answer my questions (and explain what my favorite freebie on the site is all about). Business cards and beyond, this beautiful disruptor advises on choosing a design that’s right for you, impressing potential partners, and when to deviate from the pack. (Are you a square card, or a rectangular card with extra-heavy paper?)
Business cards are not a lost art, but a renewed one. Get tips from Brendan Stephens, Global Creative Director at MOO.com:
If a person is not on the visual side of creative, but more of a words person, how should they approach the challenge of choosing a design that suits their brand?
While you may be more of a words person, that doesn’t mean you don’t have design preferences, maybe even some you weren’t aware of. We like to think people are much more creative than they give themselves credit for! Do you like to wear bright colors and prints? Or do you gravitate to neutrals and simple lines? Whatever your preference, create the business card that suits your needs and personality. MOO offers hundreds of templates to choose from, catering to those people who appreciate design but don’t necessarily have the specific technical skills to bring their ideas to life.
What are the aesthetic or messaging mistakes people make most often?
We don’t like to call them mistakes, but opportunities to learn. Our point of view generally is that the simpler the design, the better. In fact, “keep it simple” is one of our company values! If you have too much information on the card, it no longer serves the purpose of communicating clearly and efficiently.
Is it helpful to have text besides just name, contact details and company name on a card?
Having your title/position can be helpful to give a bit more detail on what you do, but besides that, we don’t recommend having too much more. We highly dislike clutter.
Take some time to think about what information is most memorable and relevant to your customers and your business. It might be enough to just have your website URL [or CV Portfolio URL] on the card, rather than all of your social channels. But if your business is very present on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you should include these.
Does thick, luxe paper really make a difference? What professions absolutely MUST have this upgrade?
Watch someone hand a luxe card out. The reactions are generally fantastic. Luxe cards are one of our most impactful finishes. We see customers from every profession choosing luxe to help their business stand out. Extra thick, with a choice of eight color seams, they really mean business. You give out business cards to be remembered, and there are so many business cards that all look and feel the same. But if you reach into your pocket and the business card there is more than a flimsy piece of paper, more substantial, it is more likely it will be held onto.
Besides a business card, what is the branded printed product that a freelancer or small business owner can get the most use out of from a visibility/outreach standpoint?
Postcards are a great tool to showcase what your business can offer, in more detail than you may want to put on a business card. Trust us! We see a lot of customers putting their elevator pitch or business summary on one side and a striking image on the other and using these to spread the word about their product or service. Our very own Printfinity allows one to put up to 25 different images on a pack of postcards.
Do you think there are business situations where a printed letter has more impact than an email? What would they be?
Definitely! We are always so excited to get a piece of mail. Who isn’t? A letter or postcard is unique, especially in our day and age, and will make you stand out even more. Nothing is better than a handwritten, personalized thank you. It shows that you took the effort to write and send a note, but also allows you to use personalized or unique stationery to further make an impression a good one.
Of course, we think MOO’s postcards are perfect for those notes, especially if you are able to differentiate yourself by adding your own design. We also often hear that sending out greeting cards to your business contacts, thanking them for their custom or support over the last year, makes a great impression.
Please answer the question once and for all: Personal headshot on a business card… Yes or no?
It completely depends on the industry your business operates in. We see this as a popular trend within the realtor market as well as the acting and modeling professions, where headshots are needed. Unless it’s something that is expected in your industry, we would recommend saving it for your LinkedIn profile and keeping a clean, simple yet impactful look for your cards.
You offer stickers as a branding tool? Please tell us more!
It’s a funny thing: We never get too old for stickers! Stickers are great to hand out to clients to put on the back of their phones, laptops, etc., as well as use them as fun souvenirs. Plus, a customer can put their brand on basically anything to make their products even more memorable. At MOO, we have address labels, name tags, branding materials, and promotional labels for all your sticker needs.
Every time I have to get a new card it is a tortuous and difficult process — and I’m never happy with them. Is this normal, or am I having extra problems because I’m a “word person?”
Tortuous? Difficult?! No! Ordering and unboxing your new business cards should be an exciting process. For many customers, it’s the first step towards their business being brought to life in the real world. Remember, if designing doesn’t come naturally, we have hundreds of ready-to-go templates to edit and order. And if you’re not 100% happy with anything, we will reprint free of charge until you are.
And now, a couple general questions about MOO….
What’s the origin story behind your name?
It’s a great question (and one we get often.) When our CEO and Founder, Richard Moross, set out to fill a gap in the business cards market in 2004, he began his venture with “Pleasure Cards,” a company meant to repurpose the business card for social interactions. That name, while provocative, didn’t have the success we had hoped for, but once we rebranded as MOO, the business took off. The name, MOO, was picked as it is easy to remember and causes intrigue.
What exactly about Moo’s process is better than previous ways of getting business cards?
MOO has various levels of personalization so you can input information into a pre-made format, or create your own unique designs – whatever suits you best. And with MOO’s unique Printfinity feature, you can put a different design on the back of every card within a pack – something that no one else offers. We pride ourselves on exceptional customer service, and will help you get the perfect product even if you notice a mistake post-printing.
Please tell us a bit more about this free touchable paper sampler. It sounds delightful.
We have such a large range of papers, many of which customers have never experienced before. We created two sample packs so that our customers know exactly what they are ordering and to make sure that their order fits what they want. One showcases the options for business cards, and our larger sample pack displays all MOO paper products to help customers pick and choose.