Visual business cards

 In Visuals

I attended a workshop last week sponsored by the Senior Forum of ASTD-Cascadia, Improve New Hire Productivity Using Visual Thinking. It was facilitated by Barrie Levinson, the Director of Consulting at Xplane.

Visual Business Cards

visual Business Card

The first thing we did was to quickly draw our own visual business cards, and share them with someone else. Simple quick sketches drawn on business card size paper with Sharpie markers.

Mine shows I use the computer and photography to work with groups of people. It’s not a great drawing. People don’t look like a circle with a line below it, yet when I tell you that is what it represents, it works. The person I was paired with in the exercise understood something about what I did.

What does my card say I do? Business Card

Image-based Training & Consulting.

I know, no one knows what that means. It is eye-catching with great graphics. I have yet to come up with an effective concise description of what I do.

OK, really I haven’t come up with a paragraph to describe my work. Yet, I can show you in a few minutes. In many ways, the quick rough sketch tells you a lot more than the expensive professionally designed version about what I do.

Now I don’t think I am ready to ditch my cards that actually give you contact information. I do need a new tagline (any ideas???). But I am thinking about ways to use the back of my card to show something more meaningful.

What did other participants think of the visual cards?

When asked to reflect on what it was like to introduce yourself visually, and to hear others’ explanations, this is what participants reported:

  • easier
  • more enjoyable
  • sustainable
  • relaxing
  • evoked more questions
  • learned about the person
  • easier to understand what the job entailed
  • faster to understand
  • gets past the jargon and buzzwords
  • engaged interaction
  • immediately multidimensional
  • focuses on one component
  • works when both are on the same plane, similar expectations
  • requires talent and confidence
  • some jobs are easier to depict than others

I certainly don’t hear those outcomes from exchanging regular business cards. So why don’t we see these methods being used more frequently?

What are we really trying to do with a card?

Guy’s business cardA few weeks ago Guy Kawasaki wrote a post about his new business card . No pictures, but nothing extra. Guy is about his websites, which are all listed there.

They were designed by Justin Ruckman. You can see many examples on his site of simple effective design, and the thing that jumps out at me, is you really get a sense of what people do.

Visuals don’t have to be the answer. Guy’s card is really effective using words. Now I would argue that a large part of the effectiveness of the words are their visual quality. So I don’t think the answer is the same for everyone.

How would you show people what you do?

Showing 4 comments
  • Michele Martin

    This is a REALLY interesting idea, Christine. I’m always more attracted to the more visually appealing business cards, even as someone who loves to read. It would be very challenging for me, though, to represent myself visually I think because I do spend so much time in the world of words.

    I like the idea of you using a version of the card you drew as your business card. Clean it up a little (but not too much) and then have contact info on the reverse. I personally would stick with the "drawn" version and not make it too slick. I think that one of the things you tend to encourage in people is this idea that the visual can happen anytime, anywhere and that you don’t need to be an artist to think visually. If it’s too slick, that gets away from that kind of message.

    This is definitely a really interesting idea. . .

  • Christine Martell

    You absolutely could do a visual business card. Actually, it would not be a whole lot different from what I did. Take out the camera, and the photos–or use your VisualsSpeak set more and leave them in 🙂 If you can write longhand, you can do this type of depiction. Common Craft videos and Dan Roam’s new book Back of the Napkin really show us how effective visuals can be with simple lines and shapes anyone can draw. It’s the conceptual understanding underneath that is the hard part, not the drawing itself.

  • Tom Tiernan

    Hi Michele

    I liked Christine’s representation as well. For me the challenge is focusing in on a single theme about what VisualsSpeak is. It’s a chicken/egg sort of thing. If I had the lazer-like words that described us, then the visual might come easier. And perhaps getting the image right might help us find the right words.

    Oh, what a dilemma.

    In any case, I think the process of creating a visual is a lot like stream of consciousness writing. You just let it come without editing. No grammar, punctuation, capital letters, etc.

    Let us know what you come up with.

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  • Improving New Hire Productivity Using Visual Thinking |

    […] get us started thinking visually, we each got a blank card and drew a business card to explain what we do. When asked to reflect on what it was like to introduce yourself visually, […]


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