What is your name?

November 9, 2009

I was recently looking at the business cards that I had collected at the recently concluded NASSCOM Product Conclave and I was struck by the utter confusion that is written on many of them. It seems that many haven’t really thought through the reasons for having a card.

To begin with the name itself has problems. First they have a logo – the brand name of the product they have created – with a nice TM next to it. Second they have the company name which is different from the brand name! Now if you’re a startup and are trying to create awareness of your name, why are you confusing people by giving a second name? Think about it, a business card is not a legal document that requires you to have the name of the company on it. The best, of course, is to have the brand and the company name as the same – say Apple. But let’s say that RoC didn’t give you the name you wanted and you like the brand name more. So, why not just promote that one name that you’ve chosen as your brand?

Another related problem is to not have a tagline or description of the product/offering. Fewer people make this mistake than the ones making the dual name one. But this is as serious. A business card is what you leave behind and should have all the information needed to get its holder remember you. If they need to go to your website to remember who you are then you probably lost a large chunk who decide not to. A few lines on the card helps them save the effort and remember you better. These few lines should cover what your product promises to do. That promise is what hooks people and gets them to call you.

Still another one is to not understand the relative importance of the address. Its probably the least important piece of information on the card and yet it occupies most space. Think about it – first, people want to know who you are (Name and designation) and then what you do (Product Name and product’s promise). When they need to get in touch with you, they would either call you (Telphone no or Mobile no) or send you an email. It is very unlikely that they would turn up at your address unannounced. So why is it taking so much space on the card? Its probably a legacy of an earlier time when email and mobiles didn’t exist. In my book, its the least important bit that can go at the back of the card. The email and phone numbers need to be emphasised leaving enough room for you product name and product promise.

While we are on the subject of business cards, here is another thing which is easy to do but I haven’t seen many do. The next time someone says they’ve run out of their cards, ask them for their email IDs and mobile if they put it on their business card. Note it down or enter into your phone right away.

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