Most of us know intuitively, that first impressions are important. We don’t like to think that we judge a book by its cover or a person by what they are wearing or how they appear, but the reality is that we often do. It’s second nature.
First impressions never have a second chance. Charles (Chuck) R. Swindoll
I consider professional business card design and printing along with professional headshots an absolute basic prerequisite to a successful branding and marketing platform. Over the past 20 years dealing with many, many start-up businesses, very few actually write a business plan. And, the few that do, do not typically create line-item budgets for professionally designed stationary (letterhead and business cards and thank-you notes). And, RARELY will small business owners justify the expense of a professional headshot.
Many or most lay people have the perception that graphic design is about making things “purty” and don’t realize it is mostly scientific. Which is ok, because like a great actor, you applaud their skills because it does not seem like they are acting.
Graphic design is about the “grid” in how a person brain digests information. In the Americas, we read left-to-right, top-down. So, any design should typically honor that. Sometimes center-align is applicable but it is lazy design as a principle.
When it comes to business card design, the true key is for the 1st impression of any recipient to digest your brand (logo and color scheme), your name and your phone number.
Have you ever received someones business card and all the text is in one place and super-small and you cannot find a phone number? Drives me nuts!
I design in “blocks” and try to prioritize what information is most important. These are the questions I ask in every design:
- How big should the logo be? Most people will request a BIGGER LOGO which is not good science.
- Name, email and phone number(s) – Generally speaking, can you find this information quickly on your business card?
- Address – Your business card might have only a mailing address or a P.O. Box. By isolating this information block you can either accentuate it or make it less important
- Website URL – due to design, sometimes you might leave off the www. That is ok.
- Headshots – Typically associated with real estate salespeople, insurance salespeople and bankers, it might or might not be a good idea to have a headshot on your business card. And, if you do, then the entire design might change.
Your headshot is like the logo of your personal brand. If you’ve always wanted that dream job or are currently in business, you’ve probably heard and read about the pride that top executives (in any industry) have of their image. From their point of view, everything they do (especially in the public eye) has to be calculated and in tune with their brand message – including their picture. On the other hand, if you’re stuck in a rut and want a change – a professional headshot is your key to opening that door. A headshot is the simplest way to not only be noticed by those around you, but also to a wide spectrum of viewers from prospective recruiters, clients, and even those seeking a relationship.
At this point you might be asking, “ya I get it… but how will a pro photographer make that happen, when I can just get a friend who has a digital camera to do the same thing for free?” The truth is, a pro photographer knows his / her craft (composition, lighting, how to pose a subject, post-production editing, etc) and it is our daily job to make things look great, be it people, products, or whatever the mind can conceive. Would you (honestly) trust your friend who is a mechanic and owns two properties help you buy your first home? No, you’d hire a professional in the field aka a real estate agent! There’s a reason professionals seek other professionals – because they know the ins and outs of the job and are good at it – so don’t cut yourself short.
- It conveys your professionalism. If you look professional, potential clients, investors, collaborators, etc. that don’t know you personally are going to be more likely to agree to that first meeting.
- A good headshot gives people an idea of your personality before they meet you. A smile portrays approachability. A serious look portrays determination. Make your expression match your personality. I choose to smile in mine!
- It reminds business contacts who you are if they met you in passing at a conference or business function. This little cue makes it more likely they will accept your “friend” or “follow” request.
- A current headshot gives people an idea of what you look like now. I recently went to a CEO breakfast and two of the presenters’ headshots were taken years ago. There was an immediate disconnect. It’s not good to surprise people in this way. It sends a message of inauthenticity.
- It supports and enhances the skills and experience on your LinkedIn profile, making you stand out from the rest. One hint specific to LinkedIn is to look to the left so you are literally looking at your profile.
- It makes you feel good to look your best. Having a quality image of yourself to share with your professional peers boosts your self confidence, and it can even inspire you to share more of yourself with others, take a few risks, and overcome work-related challenges.
Professional headshots aren’t just for top executives anymore. Everybody needs one. If you don’t have one already, I encourage you call North Star Multimedia and check it off your “to do” list. With a great headshot, your professionalism and unique personality will shine through, opening the doors to new opportunity and new business.