What does your business card say about you?

Cloak & Dagger frontIn many parts of Asia, a business card is not just a piece of paper. It’s an extension of the self. A thing to be treated with the utmost respect.

If you do not regard the business card you are given with intense curiosity after receiving it ceremoniously with both hands, you can say goodbye to any chance of a good relationship.

Meetings can go well or badly, pitches won or lost, deals made or muddled based on how much reverence is shown for a piece of card that costs less than stick of chewing gum.

The humble business card is not just a list of contact details, a conversation starter or a ticket for a lucky draw. It is your personal brand. Your accomplishments in working life encapsulated in a few square centimeters.

So it is with some nervousness that I publish this piece, which picks out the 10 best, and 10 worst, business cards I have collected in my time in Asia.

This article may cause offense. But in my defence I would argue that in a region where business cards are business critical, it is sort of important to get them right.

This is the creative industry, after all. You need a card that looks good, communicates your own brand as well as your employer’s, and at the very least does not embarrass you and your new acquaintance when you produce it from your wallet.

So, here goes…



MassiveMusic. Cool, pop art illustration on the front. Cute glossy sound squiggles on the back. And colouring that leaves the recipient in no doubt that this man is proud to be Dutch. Finally, a novelty card that doesn’t induce nausea.

MassiveMusic business card front

Massived Music business car


WPP. No pansying around with pretty colours or fancy pictures here. Just a simple, elegant, immaculately art-directed piece, in classic bone white. Patrick Bateman eat your heart out.

WPP business card

WPP business card


Freeform. A business card in the form of a ticket for a wrestling match. A fitting way to push the Melbourne agency’s fight with conformity positioning.

Freeform business card

Freeform business card


Formul8. Perfect weighting, smartly curved edges, indented logo and classy gun-metal colouration. No expense spared on the paper, which is subtly textured and sturdier than a beer coaster. A woman who means business has a business card to match.

Formul8 business card

Formul8 business card


Cloak & Dagger. Interbrand Sydney rebranded Chantal Manning-Knight’s head-hunting firm last year, coming up with an apt name for her field and a design that has impressed awards juries.

Cloak & Dagger front

Chantal Manning-Knight


Bacardi. A strong, authoritative layout. And it’s hard to argue with anything written in gold.



Adobe. No risk of losing this one among the stack of boring white cards in your pocket.


Adobe business card


Accenture. Raised silver lettering on egg-shell white. Says we are expensive, but worth it.

Accenture business card


M&C Saatchi. Bold. On brand for M&C, one of the few agencies that isn’t secretly ashamed of its name.

M&C Saatchi Malaysia business card

M&C Saatchi business card


Weber Shandwick. When the PR agency rebranded recently, the first thing staff in the Hong Kong office wondered was what the business cards would look like. Well, a lot of them are different, since you can choose the illustration on the back.

Weber Shandwick business card

Weber Shandwick business card



Foetus International. One of Malaysia’s largest communications groups has a logo that resembles that of a religious book shop.

Foetus International

Foetus group back


McDonald’s. Does this card belong to the VP of marketing and communications or a drive-through check-out girl? The delivery number on the back?  Do you want to talk business or get me a burger? Not lovin’ it.


McDonald's business card


Ektron. Hmm. Looks like someone has been using an insert-name-here business card template.

Ektron business card


Harbour City. A terrifying splurge of social media links suggests that this individual does not have much of a life away from a computer.

Harbour City business card


User strategy. Nice pic, but this card is too small. It would either get lost or be used as roach material.

User strategy

Scott Bales


Jay Oatway Media. The design doesn’t offend so much as the words ‘author, speaker, consultant’. Just a fraction smug.

Jay Oatway Media business card front

Jay Outway Media


Cell City. Is this a business card… or a loyalty card for a juice bar? And does anyone really use QR codes?

Cell City

Cell City


CMO Asia. Looks suspiciously like a fake ID for a journalist. Do you think by waving it around you’ll get interviews?

CMO Asia business card


NTV7. 10 Feel Good Years… at a strip club? And the front appears to have been dipped in a cup of tea.


NTV7 business card


Crocs. At least this isn’t as ugly as the products the company sells. But probably a good idea to spell-check your job title, unless ‘marchandising’ is a new buzzword for how to sell shoes.

Crocs business card

Next time you get your cards printed, ask yourself, what would Patrick Bateman do?

Robin Hicks

Research: Kellie Eminson


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