American Psycho: The search for premium business cards

There’s a famous scene from an infamous movie that epitomises the business card fetish. It is both ridiculous and funny. Here’s the thing though – if you’re in professional services there’s a lot riding on that card.

Late last year when I decided to rejuvenate Crossbolt, I realised that I would need to get new business cards. I only had two left and I wanted to keep one for posterity. This meant that I’d be able to have one business meeting before I’d need to wait until the stocks had been replenished. Fortunately my sales cycle is usually short and the engagements lengthy: I just need to place the card in the right hand and if it sticks we’re on another sleigh ride. That first impression is all important and as the business card is typically the only tangible brand collateral that is exchanged it’s the splash screen for the whole business in the palm of my hand.

It’s also a fantastic opportunity: most folk’s business cards look the same. Arrogant and presumptious? Maybe but I did learn a few things. Johannesburg, where I’m based has a myriad of “1000 cards for R500” deals (about $75 at the time). These are standard, digitally printed, double-sided, full color cards. In fact your cards are batched with a bunch of other folks in the print run so everybody’s cards end up looking similar. My search for a more upmarket offering came to nought:

“No we don’t do embossing”, “No we stopped foil stamping a while back”, “You want what ?”

 I was flabbergasted! I mean we’re talking about the continent’s economic hub here. After much googling and some phone calls I eventually found three credible operations: one in a small town in the Free State and two in Cape Town (really). I settled on The Letterpress Company. I’ve been a fan of letterpress for a while now (follow that last link, its really good). Bashing out the text with a solid die leaves a tactile quality that is missing in modern digital printing. The Letterpress Company use a vintage Heidelberg press and pay attention to service excellence – they were exactly what I had been hunting for.

Finding the right service provider was only part of the challenge. Unlike digital printing, my letterpress run involved manufacturing a laser cut die for the positive imprint and a foiling block (for the logo foil colors). In simple terms if I decided to change any of the content in future, I would incur these costs again and they aren’t cheap. It was a good time to revamp the logo with my graphic designer (that took a very long time too).

Final product : Letterpress, metallic blue and grey foiling on 100% cotton paper 

  Crossbolt: Small operation, premium goods. With a perhaps psychotic attention to detail.  Makes all the difference when its your capital project we’re looking after.

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4 Responses to American Psycho: The search for premium business cards

  1. Andrew says:

    Could not agree with you more. Business cards are the first introduction and I learnt this well from Rich at Missing Link when I was designing his cards, and the response his clients got were amazing.
    The cards look great!

  2. crossbolt says:

    Thanks Andy – I didn’t know that you had done Rich’s cards. The Thunk! ones are cool, I haven’t seen the Missing Link ones yet.

  3. Anna Breault says:

    Wow! This is very awesome! Thank you for such a very interesting information.
    Komori Presses

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