What does “personal brand” really mean?

Flip side Sally Felt biz card example designed by Kelly Mills
My business card

I carry two business cards. My main card describes me as WriterSpeakerAdventurer, same as this site. and you can see the art for yourself. What the description lacks in specificity, it seems to make up in memorability. Folks see it and smile. Some exclaim in delight, needing to repeat it out loud.

When I chose these three words, they represented my personal aspirations. True, I’d been a writer for decades. But I’d not yet had a real speaking gig, and with a few exceptions, my adventures were mostly spiritual.

It worked. I’ve grown into the description. It fits me. When I give someone this business card and get a reaction, I’m not just connecting—I’m paying it forward. Inspiring someone else to take a risk, be playful, stretch a bit. That’s a brand I happily inhabit.

Sally Felt biz card example designed by Kelly Mills
My card’s flip side.

So why carry more than one card? Let me start with a question (and a rant about my personal preferences in business card design).

What do your business cards say about you?

Do you carry cards? Perhaps, like me, several different ones? Trying to find a meaningful, memorable way to represent yourself on a 2 x 3.5” bit of card stock is confusing, isn’t it?

When working for someone else’s company, you take whatever is offered, even if the logo is ugly or your job title doesn’t reflect what you do.

When working a side hustle or are self employed (like me), you face delicious, agonizing freedom of choice all the way down the line.

Job title, yes or no?

If yes, what? I’ve seen quite a few that say President, or Owner. That doesn’t suit me, especially since I don’t operate under a business name. (“Owner of Sally Felt,” makes me giggle.)

I’m more drawn to cards that suggest what’s being offered, such as Illustrator, or Programmer, or Handyman, or Author. As time passes, cards like this help me remember who you are and why I kept your information.

Include Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, 2 phones, 2 webs, email etc.?

In the interest of helping clients, fans, colleagues and prospects reach us, it’s tempting to load up the business card with all our addresses, from email to website, social media, and maybe even snail mail address. Plus at least one phone number. Some authors I know include a list of book titles.

I prefer something sleeker. Simpler. Give me a card that doesn’t try to be all things to all people and I see you as a confident professional. I start to trust you before we’ve done more than exchange cards.

Paring down to essentials

The process of creating ideal business cards proved so tough that I’m currently carrying two cards while pondering how to get down to one.

Things I’ve solved: what to include

  • My name
  • A 2-3 word description of what I offer
  • My mobile number
  • One email address
  • This website

It makes for a clean, simple card that gives essential contact information. And I chose uncoated card stock so it’s easy to write on with an ordinary pen. (Do you like to make notes on people’s cards, like where and when you met them? I do.)

And at last, my answer to why two cards?

All that differs between my two business cards is the artwork and the self-description.

My second business card says Intuitive Tarot and uses striking close-up photos of dragonflies, suggesting the transformative potential of receiving a card reading. A Tarot reading is an intimate experience, and though my playful approach to life spills over into my Tarot business, I want a business card that reflects my client’s potential more than it reflects me.

Perhaps I’ll find a pare it down to just one card. Until then, I carry two. What’s a WriterSpeakerTarotAdventurer to do?


Business card design by Kelly Mills

4 Replies to “What does “personal brand” really mean?”

  1. Hi Sally! Nice article about business cards and the dilemma of cramming too much info on them!

    I’ve thought about updating my cards and considered adding QR codes, that way I can keep it simple, and have the QR point to my website, twitter, etc. Even an Amazon page. Some apps for creating QRs are free!

    -Kara

    1. Good luck with your update. I have misgivings about QR from an aesthetic viewpoint, but that’s me. If you believe in its power from a marketing standpoint, blessings on you.

  2. Enjoyed your post! I carry a 2-sided business cards since I write and photograph. My title is “writer/photographer/beatnik” and I’ve got links to my writing portfolio and my photography portfolio. The back of the card has a photo of me. Of course I’m thinking of tweaking my card a bit, but still have over 300 cards and hate to toss them – sigh.

    1. Good idea, including your photo. I wish more people did, especially when I come home from a meeting or conference with a whole bunch of cards.

      (Which is one of the reasons I chose card stock that could be written on w/a regular ball point pen, making it easy for folks who–like me–make notes about where they met me/what we talked about.)

      I know what you mean about not wanting to toss old cards. Why not make it your mission to uncover every place in town with a “drop your business card here and you could win a free lunch.” You’ll get through the reminders faster, and likely enjoy some lovely meals.

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