My Identity Crisis

In an earlier life, I worked for a major corporation that seemed intent on becoming a minor corporation. As they slid down the charts in numerous rankings, I decided I would try something different before I went down the tubes along with the stock price.

While I was serving my sentence in Corporate America, there was always someone to hand me a new box of business cards every time there was a change in my job title, division name, office address or the font used for the corporate logo. My parents were impressed with seeing my name on the first business card I gave them. After the tenth variation even they were no longer interested.

One could always ask the question – why do we need business cards? After all, no one uses them anymore except for realtors, plumbers and the people who drop a card in every “WIN A FREE LUNCH” fishbowl at the corner sandwich shop. It turns out there are two groups that need business cards. First, there are people who think they need business cards and second, there are the people at Office Depot, Vistaprint, and similar who want to convince you that you need to have business cards. To be fair, the printing companies do have a point. An attractive business card is the adult version of your six-year-old self standing on the edge of the diving board yelling, “Look at me, mommy.” Hopefully, the world is not absorbed in a magazine or you may have to relive a childhood disappointment.

As I began my career as a writer[1]Add air quotes around “career” and also around “writer” while you are at it., I learned that the card printing companies have convinced aspiring writers that they must have business cards to move from “aspiring writer” to just plain “writer.” As a writer, you might think that the purpose of a business card is to help you publicize yourself and your work. That turns out to be wrong. So far, I have not given one of my cards to anyone who can actually help get my next book published. I have only given cards to other writers who have asked me for one. It seems that writers will ask for one of your business cards because they are dying to get you to accept one of theirs. Some struggling writers must measure their progress by both words written and cards handed out each week. They apparently do not realize that you will toss their card just as quickly as they will toss yours.

Even though I know this, a part of me still wants to have new business cards. This is not so I can play out the scene from American Psycho and compare the merits of Silian Rail type vs. Romalian, and the differences between bone-colored paper and eggshell. Down that path lies madness. No, I want new business cards because deep inside I do believe that $10.95 is a good investment for five hundred cards that could get me on The New York Times bestseller list.

The decision to invest the price of lunch into business cards is the easy part. The tough part is deciding what text and images to place on the precious 3.5 x 2 inches of real estate. I have spent hours working on this task with my graphic arts director (me),  publicist (that would also be me) and brand manager (still me). In the end, I am torn between several options. In the spirit of crowd-sourcing, I have decided to ask you to help me by reviewing several designs and letting me know which one is your top choice. I have eight examples below and I would like you to participate in the poll at the end. Just click on the one that you think would best help me to stand out in the crowded field of street peddlers with “buy my book” scrawled across a piece of cardboard.

Here are the candidate business cards:

1) I started with a clean and simple approach with my name and web links as well as a striking graphic. Yes, it is boring but you do remember I am my own graphic art department.

2) I intend for my business card to proclaim my vocation but this card includes a touch of honesty by admitting I am doing this “just for the fun of it.”

3) It is better to demonstrate something than just declare it so version number 3  attempts to declare I am a humorist and then demonstrate it. The clever ones in the crowd will already have guessed that this is the back.

4) The more intent I got on writing as a profession, I thought it would be good to declare I was not to be pigeonholed so I expanded beyond humorist to defining myself as a writer. This is also the card I feel like sharing after several hours of work have produced two usable sentences.

5) The last one might be too dark so here I approach it from a different, yet equally honest, direction. I enjoy self-deprecating humor because deprecating me is something my whole family can enjoy.

6) This one speaks for itself. I would hope they all do but I will step out and make the claim for this one.

7) In desperation, I decided to get completely honest and hawk my first book at the expense of going to full-color printing. 

8) Finally, I was brought to the point of creating a Mind-Your-Own Business Card. 

This is where you come in. I need your help. If I was decisive I would not have created eight versions.

Make your selections (up to two). I also encourage you to take an unpaid position in my graphic design team. Send in a comment with your own suggestions.

[poll id=”2″]

I appreciate your help and congratulate you on reading all the way through this post.


1 Add air quotes around “career” and also around “writer” while you are at it.

4 thoughts on “My Identity Crisis

  1. April Dilbeck Reply

    #4 and #5 could be combined because masochists do seem to enjoy being mocked!

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