Creative LeadershipStrategy & Marketing

My Pet Peeve of the Month – Weird Shaped Business Cards

I’m bringing this post back from the archives, because it drives me crazy.  I know they look cool – those weird shaped business cards. Squares, skinny thin ones, or shapes like TV sets, cameras, books, or houses (if you’re a real estate agent.) But the truth is – they’re a real pain. They don’t fit into a business card folder, don’t play well with other cards in a stack, and generally are difficult to deal with.

I know – you’re going to say, “But Phil, you always tell us to be different and stand out from the crowd.”   Yes, that’s important – but in a GOOD way.

Being annoying doesn’t help.

What do you think?

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  1. What about the silly cards in the magazines that fall out when you open it? Well, marketing research says it works. Drives me crazy, but no one would dare stop it.

    You thought enough of the cards to write about it, so…methinks you protest too much!  😉

    Just sayin’…

  2. The Change Revolution…. talks about pet peeves of business cards…. while TV Religion explodes, implodes and has catastrophe after catastrophe… Lee Grady fires his biggest salvo yet against the Kings-with-no-clothes of Broadcast Christianity… and our minds are being occupied with such pet peeves as the size of business cards?

    Too bad your business politics in broadcast religion doesn’t permit your dealing with the big issues of the day… Issues like how cleric mystic tyranny greatly helps political mystic tyranny, and both are helped by ignoring big issues and trumpeting pet peeve issues. Come on, Phil! You can do better, read the name of your website!

  3. Agreed–we should stand out, but we should also be practical. If a business card neither fits into nor is easily retrievable from a wallet or business card holder, it will get lost.

  4. I think this entry was based on a vent, and I have to agree. I am a designer and I hate when typical designer types, that just want to be different, use this method to get attention. Oversize, square, etc…

    I would pose possibly having two cards, one artsy, high end card to satisfy your ego and one that is practical and will be used for it’s purpose, communication.

    I feel there has to be function to the form.

  5. Robert – this is an important post for those of us who are in the business of communicating. Not everyone is as obsessed with TV evangelists as you are, so lighten up a bit. I’m sure there are plenty of other blogs that share your conspiracy theories.

  6. I think there are plenty of ways to be unique and still fit in a useful form factor. I appreciate the concept of sticking out and being unique. But I have to agree that if it doesn’t stack well with the other business cards, it’s going to get lost and/or thrown out.

  7. I worked at a production company and a Producer for a while, and our cards were a little smaller. I actualy found that i could use an onld Mini-DV tape case on my desk as a business card holder, and another one could travel with me in my bag. That set-up actually got a lot of positive feedback. I agree that outlandish shapes are often annoying, but I thought the benefits outwieghed the negatives in this case.

  8. “Clerical Mystic Tyranny”?

    “Political Mystic Tyranny”?

    Well, as Conspiracy mantras they’re starting to approach the sheer psycho poetry of Francis E Dec’s “Communist Gangster Computer God”, “Puppeting Parrot Gangster Assassins”, and “Frankenstein Earphone Radio Controls.”

  9. I guess the cards I get from people tend to be the same size and I met a creative director who has the same frustration with odd shaped cards. I’d agree that uniform size and material make a lot of sense. What one does should be what makes then stand out, not a flashy card.

  10. Subtle wins, every time. I have a “standard-sized” card, but did 3 things that make every person that I hand one to comment on it, and ask where I made them.
    1. Rounded edges. They look crisper, more professional, longer bc they don’t get banged up in someone’s pocket.
    2. Thickness of card, one stock below credit card thickness. When they reach for “all those cards” they accumulated, by touch mine is unique and gets another look.
    3. MOST IMPORTANT that SO many people miss. MINIMAL content on it! I only place my website on one side, and my email/twitter handle on the other. That’s it.

    A business card isn’t a sales pitch, it’s a reminder to continue the great conversation you started with someone.

    These three things have been a HUGE benefit to me!

    Hope that helps.


    1. Brilliant advice Brett. I particularly like #3. I’m amazed at the number of cards I get with incredible amounts of information crammed onto it. Your last line says it all: “A business card isn’t a sales pitch, it’s a reminder to continue the great conversation you started with someone.”
      Thanks for posting!

  11. Great and wonderful point. My graphic design professor addressed this same situation and advised me to rethink one of my business card designs. I’m glad I listened to reason.

  12. Here’s the question: what is a business card intended to do for you? Before the days of Outlook and smart phones, people had files of business cards. They worked great in Rolodexes. Do you have a Rolodex?

    When I get a business card, it’s an immediate expression of the company’s/individual’s brand. It creates an immediate impression. Then I take it back to the office, and if I have any interest in keeping that info, I put it into my electronic file and toss the card.

    If most people are like me, then odd-shaped business cards are not a practical problem. If many people still keep stacks of them or Rolodexes or whatever, then they would be a major hassle.

  13. I entirely agree with you on this one. Years ago when i first started shooting headshots I tried some crazy artsy stuff with an actress and her agent called and said, “If you get creative within the standards of the industry, you’ll look like an artist. Throw the standards out and you look like an attention starved egotist.” The point was well taken.

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