NeenahEamesBusinessCard-outside500
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Business Cards Can Tell A Story

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Conversation Starter: The Art of Fine Business Cards

Truth be told, I’m a bit of a hoarder, and one thing I hoard are fine business cards. Many are miniature works of art. I’ve always contended that business cards are more than just a tool for transferring information. They are opportunities for personal connection — the best can make someone stop and look, ask questions and  engage. They can invite human interaction.

About 10 years ago when we were relaunching ENVIRONMENT® Papers at Neenah I decided to design a new “non-corporate” business card for the sales force, to give them a creative way to start conversations about the line’s brand revisions. That was the first card in what has become a collection of 21 business cards that we’ve designed to announce the launch of new products. And now we have people who collect these cards eagerly awaiting the latest card. Here are some of my favorites — in no particular order, because it’s hard to choose which ones really are my favorites!

NeenahEnvironmentBusinessCard-vintage500

This was the first card that we did that went along with a launch. We were introducing three new grade features — FSC papers, 100% post-consumer papers and alternative fiber papers as well as a new color — so as a way to showcase four different papers we designed a miniature three-panel chip chart with three chips on the inside and one on the back. (Fun trivia fact: 25 years ago I directed the introduction of chip charts to the paper industry, following the tradition of the household and commerce paint industry. It was a way to showcase the expanding choice of color palettes we were adding to CLASSIC Paper lines. (Creative Director:Tom Wright; Design: Design Guys/MPLS; Printer: Fey Printing, 2004).

NeenahEnvironmentBusinessCard500

Our latest card also happens to be for ENVIRONMENT, and its just-announced revision. Consistency of messaging keeps ENVIRONMENT true, but industry trends make us re-look at the colors and textures in the line, and at how we brand a brand. This card is simple and efficient, paying homage to the natural, organic feel of this revised line, with the new honeybee-like bug on the new RAW™  finish, in the new Honeycomb color … and a simple but effective geometric honeycomb die-cut for fun. (Creative Director/Design: Tom Wright; Printer: Fey Printing, 2014)

NeenahDCBusinessCard-front-ext500

This card was for the Fall 2013 launch of The Design Collection. This card was a challenge; typically I’ll have one brand in a given revision; this line introduced 11 brands! The Design Collection has many papers from Italy previously unknown in the United States, so we created a memorable introduction with a tent card with laminated Orange PLIKE® to SO…SILK® for the front panel, and WILD® for the back panel, then hinged them together with dyed-to-match gauze. PLIKE has this unique plastic-like surface that people investigate when they touch it, then the bright, iridescent Beauty Pink of the SO…SILK on the inside is a surprise. We of course letterpressed the back panel since we used WILD — a single-ply 314lb sheet! (Creative Director/Design: Tom Wright; Printer: Fey Printing, 2013)

NeenahClassicSwatchBusinessCard500

The first 10-strip laminated card in history! This is as unique, and complicated, as any card we have done. This was designed to introduce the revised CLASSIC® Brand Papers, and instantly identify that we had created the ‘perfect 10’ colors that matched in all paper attributes across all four brands. We took the idea of chip charts and turned it into chip strips. The tricky part was laminating them perfectly side-by-side. We mounted the cut strips to a sheet of CLASSIC CREST Stipple, Epic Black. When you handed it to someone it was easy to talk about the perfect 10 all right there on the business card. (Creative Director/Design: Tom Wright; Printer: Fey Printing, 2012)

NeenahEamesBusinessCard500

We wanted to express the Eames sense of play and experimentation when we created this card to launch the EAMES® brand. The opportunity to work with Eames Demetrious (Charles and Ray’s grandson) to create this paper line was like touching the stars. The brand embodies the Eames design philosophy. The card is a mesmerizing puzzle, with surprise cuts and folds that essentially flip the card inside out and then back again. The results are delightful—when you handed it to someone, you had to demonstrate how to work the card. It was a real creative conversation starter. (Creative Director: Tom Wright; Design: Design Guys/MPLS; Printer: Fey Printing, 2007).

NeenahClassicLinenBusinessCard500

This one was fun, simple and intriguing. We designed two different cards to showcase two of the multiple additions to the CLASSIC® Paper line: One was the new Canyon Brown color, and the other was our first Pearlized finish. The Canyon Brown brought awareness of the dark colors now available, and has a clear foil stamp, embossing and metallic ink. The Pearlized card demonstrated how Linen could look chic again, with metallic ink and a registered emboss on this iridescent finish. Then, to keep it simpler for the sales team, we fastened the two cards together with a grommet and we ended up with another card that people investigated and played with. (Creative Director, Tom Wright; Design, Design Guys/MPLS; Printer: Fey Printing, 2009).

NeenahDigitalBusinessCard500

This black card with white printing showed that digital printing wasn’t just for white papers. HP Indigo has just introduced its white ink technology and we were introducing new deep dark colors, textures and weights for digital printing. I printed opaque white ink on CLASSIC CREST®, Epic Back digital papers. Now, offset printing would have required 3-4 hits of ink plus drying time, with HP Indigo printing these cards came off in two online “clicks” ready to trim. No fuss no muss. (Creative Director/Design: Tom Wright; Printer: Fey Printing, 2011)

 

NeenahAstrobrightBusinessCard500

Yes, ASTROBRIGHT® Papers are the brightest papers on the planet. Walking into a warehouse filled with rolls of these 26-colored sheets is like walking into Candy Land. These papers are not typically used as business cards, as designers trend towards heavier weights. The solution for our ASTROBRIGHT launch was to showcase them by laminated two colors back-to-back. It was a simple and effective solution — and a Solar Yellow™ and Terra Green™ card could stop traffic. (Creative Director/Design: Tom Wright; Printer: Fey Printing, 2012)

NeenahSundance BusinessCard500

We deployed a great steer on the promo for the launch of SUNDANCE® Papers. The steer’s outline provided a great shape for a die-cut card, but the horn’s point needed to be protected. Solution: an oversized, 2-panel business card with real giddy-up. The size and shape of this presentation got folks talking, making it a successful printed promotion. (Creative Director: Tom Wright; Design: Farmhouse/ATL; Printer: Fey Printing, 2008).

NeenahPackagingBusinessCard500

Design Guys of Minneapolis created our first Packaging papers swatchbook using these wonderful pieces of line art. We carried this design over to business cards for the launch, printing them on our 130 DTC and using floods of color to show that our Packaging papers print beautifully. (Creative Director: Tom Wright; Design: Liebold and Design Guys; Printer: Fey Printing, 2012).

NeenahGreenBusinessCard500

This card was for a past introduction of our ENVIRONMENT Papers line. It delivers a message about considering the environment and even giving back. The card is an envelope filled with Wisconsin wild flower seeds. People loved it. However, knowing what we know now — that no one considered back in the early 90’s —  seeds shouldn’t unnaturally migrate without proper agricultural guidance. Next time, we might use indigenous native seeds! Nevertheless, I do hope that few of these seeds were planted and that future blooms bring Neenah Paper to mind. (Creative Director/Design: Tom Wright; Printer: Fey Printing, 2001)

Fine business cards tell a story. They can start a conversation. They invite a smile, eye contact and a handshake. The are an opportunity  for human interaction that lets others notice, engage and remember you. We should not lock ourselves into the idea of  ONE business card. We all have many stories to tell: business cards present opportunities to be creative, expressive and make people stop, look and listen to your story. Show it. Tell it. And when you print, print it well.

This article first appeared in RockPaperInk.

Photos: ©2014 StudioAlex

 

 

 

 

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    JPG Printing said:

    Nice post, thanks for sharing. Neenah paper is the best.