“It ain’t pretty, Dave, but it works.”
“That’s why I asked you to take a look,” he said.
He had unfolded a black and white rendition of the design on a letterhead-sized sheet of paper tucked in the back of his appointment book and asked these questions:
- “How do I get people to read it the way they are supposed to?
- What can I do to make it more memorable?”
“The way they’re supposed to?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, “A lot of people have the same problem that I did when I first looked at it…instead of reading these parts down they try to read them side to side.”
At that point I waded in saying, “The single most important component of your identity implementation is the ubiquitous business card.
It is the acid test of your entire effort to generate a positive, memorable persona. On that 2” x 3.5 “ bit of pasteboard, your corporate identity must be simple, direct and easy to understand. Here are three ways to be sure it says exactly what you want it to:
- Listen to your intuition. Your first look at the design should resonate positively. If it doesn’t, try to put your finger on what is bothering you.
- Ask a friend or a professional acquaintance that you trust to take a look and give you an honest opinion. If their concern is the same as yours, you have instant verification. If they find other faults, listen carefully… there may be very useable advice coming your way.
- Listen for what they don’t say as well. This is one time you want complete candor but friends zip a lip to keep from hurting you. Probe the silences. Ask them how they interpret the card. Do not give them clues. Make sure they understand your feelings are not going to be hurt by a comment that helps them get profitable business.
As I told Dave, “You can’t control how people read your card, or what they see in it or what they remember. You can increase the odds by understanding how our culture looks at things. Because we are taught to read left to right from top to bottom, we tend to look at any printed object the same way. Breaking our trained-in reading patterns is nearly impossible.
If you want them to read it the same way you do, then design it their way.”