The Importance of Branding: Business Cards

I just returned from WPPI 2012, so I thought this post on branding would be appropriate. For all of you that I met there this year: I’m so excited to have gotten a chance to connect + chat! I absolutely love networking with like-minded talented photographers + wedding industry professionals.

A little over a year ago, I attended my first-ever WPPI and sat in on Kenny Kim‘s class. Towards the end of his talk, his business cards were set up on a table for people to grab. I casually picked one up (since everyone else was) and was immediately blown away by the high-quality letterpress job.

At the time, I understood that branding was important – but didn’t quite realize just how important. A person never truly gets a second chance to make a first impression and when you’re representing your brand or business, you want others to view you as a professional in your craft. At the time, I was using Moo for my business card needs (which, don’t get me wrong, are great business cards)… but I felt that they didn’t quite say what I wanted them to say about my business. I wanted to be able to hand out one of my business cards and be 110% confident + proud of them.

After returning home, I decided to research the craft of letterpress printing and take some action. After hours of Google searching and Etsy browsing, I inquired with both Zida Borcich (from Studio Z Mendocino) and a local, Baltimore-based letterpress company. I received business card samples via snailmail from both companies and closely examined each and every card. After gathering rates and nitpicking through the cards for about a month or so (I wanted to see how well they’d hold up), I made a final decision. As much as I thought it would be fantastic to support a local business, I simply could not bring myself to do so. I was unimpressed and disappointed with the quality of their samples: the color was wearing off on some of the cards and the paper felt flimsy. On the other hand, Zida’s cards were phenomenal: a variety of sturdy, high-quality cards that included intricate foil stamping, vibrant color, and beautiful edge painting.

Zida and I sent many e-mails back-and-forth, discussing my final vision for these custom letterpress cards. She was a true professional – willing to explain the process and give me great pointers in regards to the design. In fact, I owe my very recent logo alteration (a very slight alteration, but an alteration nonetheless) to Zida.

On February 14th, our local UPS delivery guy greeted me with a 10-lb package in hand. I was incredibly excited and, quite honestly, felt like a 5-year old child unwrapping birthday gifts (except it was Valentine’s Day). I proceeded to show Chad the beautiful custom letterpress job, then spent about an hour staring at them in disbelief that they were my very own. They were exactly how I envisioned them and I truly cannot thank Zida enough for everything.

I love Tiffany Blue + teal – so, naturally, it’s part of my brand. Now, my favorite color is edge-painted on these cards!

Zida proposed foil stamping the bird, along with a small elevated dot where the bird’s eye should be. Marvelous!

Great business cards, in my opinion, are absolutely essential to a successful [photography] business. As photographers, we should be constantly connecting with others and it’s very important to be able to pass along your information to anyone you meet – whether it be an industry professional or a potential client.

Before I end this post, I want to include some quick business card tips:

  1. If you aren’t skilled in the area of design, hire a professional to design your card for you. Unless you create comic strips for a living (well, even if you do), you should probably refrain from using Comic Sans. It’s so 10 years ago.
  2. Be unique! Stand out from the crowd and have fun with your business cards – whether it be the size, color, or type of card. You want your business card to represent YOU, so make it something you’re proud of! Don’t be afraid to invest in your business cards, as they’re frequently a key first impression when you’re representing your brand or business.
  3. Include the necessary contact information (name, website, and e-mail or phone) and make sure it’s up-to-date. You want to make it simple for someone (such as a potential client) to get a hold of you. But remember, you do not want to oversaturate your card with too much information… so keep that in mind while designing!
  4. Professional looking e-mail addresses ARE important! The average person uses Gmail, Yahoo, or another e-mail client to check and send e-mails, so why put an “average” e-mail address on your business cards? Companies assign “” to their employees for a reason – it implies professionalism and leads people to the company website. Most e-mail services allow you to send and receive e-mails using your custom domain e-mail address. It’s fairly simple to set up and, once you have everything sorted out, you’re good to go! I use Gmail (because, come on, who doesn’t like Google other than the late Steve Jobs?) which allows you to set your custom domain e-mail address as your default sender address – or select from a drop-down as you’re composing your e-mail.
  5. Follow up with people you exchange business cards with (whether it be via e-mail, snailmail, phone, or Facebook/Twitter/social media)! Don’t let your connections go to waste, because that’s just silly.

Do you have any business card tips to add (or general thoughts on business cards)? I’d absolutely love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! =)

Edit: Visit Studio Z Mendocino’s blog for Zida’s very own post about my cards, right here!


Greg Raines As a graphic artist turned business owner, I agree whole heartedly! Use a "clean" (easy to read and memerable) logo, bright contrasting colors and don't scrimp on the cardstock, when you scrimp on your cards it leaves the impression that you scrimp on your business/services… not the impression that you want to give to potential clents.

Connie Jean Martin Thank you for you research. I've been agonizing over card design and companies. I'll check out Studio Z!

Mike Tseng Beautiful cards! Zida is the best!

Kelly Cummings Morgan and I were both impressed with your cards, and I’m working on getting some letterpressed cards this year as well, they feel so yummy!

Also, I only disagree with one thing… comic sans was never okay. Unless for the comics, of course. :)

Wendy {Weswen Design} Oh you know I’m all over this post and couldn’t agree more with how important a good business card is to have. Not only does it set the tone about you, it looks professional, and why should you ever want to convey anything else. Yours are lovely, well done!

Krista {Bayside Bride} These seriously look amazing Serena!

Katie | KD Productions Great advice! I do love your card :)

Abby Grace I have major business card envy right now. I’m currently using MOO and I LOVE them, but your letterpressed lovelies are GORGEOUS!

Natalie I absolutely love your business cards! I completely agree with you – I used Moo for so long and although they are “cute”, they don’t define a professional. Branding is key!

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