The business card dilemma

When we started our consultancy “Respond” and investigated how to promote our new venture, we also questioned ourselves on whether we behave responsibly towards the use of resources and our CO2 footprint. One of the questions that popped up when creating our website and digital stationery was whether to use paper business cards. Given the felling of trees, the use of water and waste production, not to speak about post pandemic apologetics smitten with fear of sharing germs – all of which gave good cause to believe that paper business cards are dead.

However, business cards have been around for ages and the handing over of a card – a ritual still performed around the globe – plays an important role in international protocol depending on where you are and who you meet.  In Japan for example, not only the way you present a card is an important etiquette, also the way you receive and store a business card will influence the prospectus. 

In Germany, where we come from, business cards are not given out in bulk but are a personal – almost confidential – exchange of information. They are only given out to people you value and who you are genuinely interested to reach. 

On the other side, looking to reach out to clients at a tech conference and trying to capture digital natives with paper business cards somehow does not seem quite right either. Dinosaurs come to mind and decent leads are most likely unobtainable.   

However, we felt the personal touch necessary for the start of the business and to portray what we stand for, which is a personalized service with detailed attention to the specific needs of our clients. But it became clear to us that the art of business card exchange was something that needed to be sensitively fine-tuned and each approach to be tailored carefully.

After a lot to-and-fro and trying to solve our dilemma, we finally decided to go half way and come up with a card – even though not the fully sustainable solution – but thanks to our conscious decisions – at least a step in the right direction. 

We wanted to have a business card that is beautiful and which reflects the nature of our business, people oriented, respect for nature and elegance for a high-end clientele. For us the card still adds a personal touch and we feel that in the environment where we move the handover of a business card is still important.

We spoke to our graphic designer Juan Verdera who actively supports our sustainability agenda. Juan had produced our web geared at low CO2 emissions by avoiding a white background and using a light gray instead which enables to reduce the power of the monitor led lights as well as an unsaturated brown color in the graphics for the same purpose. Thanks to Juan we got in touch with Roberto Aguiló Mora and his printing shop “Nueva Balear”. Nueva Balear is the oldest, still active printing shop in Mallorca, dedicated to the graphic arts since 1913. Roberto belongs to the fourth generation of printers where traditional techniques are combined with modern in order to achieve unique and genuine finish. The “passion for art and printing is what makes him live” is what Roberto explains. He keeps teaching the art of printing and maintains and uses machines from the beginning of the 20th century, combining printing techniques with the most modern digital printers. Supporting small local businesses and keeping alive traditions and local craftmanship gave our decision for the old-fashioned paper business card an additional meaning. 

Together with Juan and Roberto we have chosen “Fedrigoni Matérica Kraft” for our business card, a Kraft paper of 20% recycled fibers which is FSC certified, acid and chlorine free. It is a premium product, made of pure ECF cellulose, fully biodegradable, and recyclable. We went for a digital printing on the back of the card to control the minimum number of cards we can print and only print those necessary. On the front, dry printing with black foil stamping was applied which does not produce liquid residues and does not need solvents for cleaning.

We are satisfied with the result of our beautiful card and feel we have made the correct choice for our business. The feedback we have received so far when celebrating the process of carefully handing over the little artwork we created proved us right.