I can relate to people in the tech world who have many different projects going on. I am personally involved with multiple companies and projects which I own, help run, or both. Most of them are technology-related and complement each other (web design, SEO and social media marketing, online publishing, photography, etc). Over the last few years, as my involvement grew, so too did the assortment of business cards I carried with me. After a while, I got tired of carrying around several different business cards for each company or brand that I was involved with. For years, I actually carried around 4 different business cards. Do you have any idea what a pain that is?!
When I would get hired as an expert or consultant in one area, clients don’t always recognize me as someone who could do great work for them in another area. I think the worst part was when I would get hired as a photographer for a Fortune 500 company and then try to squeeze in that I could help them with their SEO, social media, and Internet strategies. They would take my multiple cards and (probably) be confused by it. I would cringe, knowing how much I could improve their bottom line but that they looked at me as a <ahem> commodity in my role as a freelance photographer.
For example, I have worked with large companies such as Samsung, Unilever (Axe Deodorant), Rona, and many others as a photographer but when I pointed out that I’m also an experienced Internet marketer, they gave me the “give me your card and we’ll see” canned response. I was pigeonholed as a photographer and they didn’t see me as anything other than that. Oddly enough, looking at Rona’s attrocious Twitter account and lack of understanding of social media, I can see that they need me more than ever (Note: Hey, Rona! My door is open…).
Business Cards & Personal Branding for a New Era
About a year ago, I had the brainstorm of an idea to consolidate several logos and place them all on the back of my business card. This made sense since I was shifting attention to myself in slowly emerging personal branding excersize. Rather than focus on the businesses, I decided to focus on myself as the brand and point of contact representing these companies, and then let the companies stand on their own as needed. If you knew/hired/trusted me for one project, then you could safely assume that I could offer something of value to your company in another capacity.
Multiple Brand Consolidation Works
Admittedly, even I was surprised by the unbelievably positive response I received from people. Not only did they comment on the creativity of the card itself (you have to see it), many pointed out that I had just solved an on-going dilema for them. As it turns out, many people I handed the card to had the same problem and consolidating companies onto one card while changing the focus from “company as a brand” to “individual as a brand” resonated well with them. (Which is what lead me to share this experience by writing about it).
What Was On It?
The front of the card:
- My name (I used a simple, brandable font and colour scheme)
- A creative quote (which gets people talking)
- Email: I have one created for the card itself so I can track how people are using the card
- Office address – in small font because it’s really not important for a virtual business operating in a virtual world)
- Social media info: Blog web address, Hub/Nexus Web address, Twitter account (some people add LinkedIn, Facebook, etc)
The back of the card:
- 6 logos
- Brief descriptions of my position at each of these brands
- Brief labeling of what each brand does
Create a Physical Personal Branding Nexus
The business card consolidation that I’m suggesting is similar to a personal identity hub website. Make it easy for people to get an idea of the various projects, brands, and companies you are involved in. Show them that you have multiple talents. Times have changed and although we may need fewer business card exchanges given technological standards, having a business card that truly reflects who you are, including personal branding and multiple logos is a novel concept that works.