A business card is an easy and memorable way of introducing yourself and your business to potential colleagues, clients, and customers. And as it turns out, there is such a thing as famous business cards—well, the business cards of famous and influential people throughout the last century.
Let’s take a look at the famous business cards of some of the world’s biggest movers and shakers and see what design tips and tricks you can take and apply to your own business card.
Steve Jobs built his legacy off simple but stylish design. From his signature black turtleneck and glasses to the sleek designs of the Macbook and iPhone, Jobs was not only a genius businessman, but he also knew how to leverage design to make a statement about himself and his brand.
So it’s no surprise that he did the same with his business card. Jobs’ business card was—like all of Apple’s branding—simple, sleek, and elegant. The card is primarily white space, with italic, gray typography; subtle bolding of both Jobs and Apple’s company name; and the iconic Apple logo in the upper left corner of the design.
The element that keeps this card from veering into “boring” or “generic” territory? The fact that Jobs decided to use Apple’s multi-color logo; that pop of color (which resembles an apple-shaped rainbow of green, yellow, orange, red, purple, and blue) jazzed up the otherwise simple card design.
Design tips we’ve learned from Steve’s business card:
Andy Warhol was one of the most creative visual artists in history. Known best for his paintings that put a pop art spin on well-known imagery (like Campbell’s Soup Cans, Gold Marilyn Monroe, Orange Disaster #5, and Mickey Mouse)—as well as his iconic studio, The Factory, a popular New York spot among the famous, artistic, and bohemian crowds of the 1960s and 70s—Warhol was anything but ordinary. And so were his business cards.
Warhol threw all conventional ideas of what a business card should look like when designing his card, forgoing traditional elements (like nondescript fonts and neutral colors) for bold shades of blue and green and whimsical, signature-inspired typography.
Design tips we’ve learned from Andy Warhol’s business card:
You might not immediately recognize Evan Williams’ name—but you’ll definitely recognize the empire he’s built. Williams is an internet entrepreneur and the co-founder and former CEO of Twitter. During his tenure as CEO, Williams took Twitter from a small microblogging site to the world’s third most-used social network and one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who uses the internet who doesn’t immediately recognize Twitter’s iconic bird logo. Williams wisely let that logo take front and center in his business card design, opting to showcase the it while keeping the rest of the design elements simple and understated.
Design tips learned from Evan Williams’ logo design:
Thanks to the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon has gone down as one of the most infamous Presidents in the history of the United States.
Nixon’s business card design is everything you’d expect from a political figure; it’s understated but strong; traditional but unique; classic and timeless. And the former President’s signature—which is prominently displayed in the center of the card—lends a personal touch that keeps the card from going into forgettable or generic design territory.
Lesson learned from Richard Nixon’s business card design:
Walt Disney was one of the earliest pioneers of animation. He pushed the boundaries of what was possible and forever changed the way the world looked at animation. Walt Disney went on to build an iconic brand known the world over for bringing some of the animation world’s most enduring and beloved stories to life—including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Frozen.
Disney may have gone on to become one of the most famous entertainment executives in history, but in his early days, he was a cartoonist and animator. His early business cards featured a hand-drawn cartoon of Disney sketching at his desk. So not only were his cards a way to give his contact information to potential clients, but also a way to show off his artistic talent and give people a concrete example of what he did best.
Design tips from Walt Disney’s business card:
Want to take a page from Disney’s book and show off your skills on your business card? Get started with these Canva templates: Black And White Photographer Business Card, Light Brown Furniture Interior Design Business Card, and Black Vintage Photographic Business Card.
Today, Microsoft is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and its co-founder, Bill Gates, is a household name.
But Gates’ first business card from 1975 couldn’t be anything further from the sleek branding Microsoft is known for today. From the burnt orange and gold color palette to the psychedelic logo, Gates’ original business card screams of the 1970s. And while the design might feel dated today (even though it does maintain somewhat of a nostalgic charm), at the time, it was fresh, current, and on-trend—something that likely helped Gates to stand out and make an impression.
Design tips from Bill Gates’ business card design:
There’s arguably no band in the history of music that made the same kind of lasting impression as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. But before Beatlemania took over the globe—and the four boys from Liverpool changed the music industry forever—they were just another local band looking to book a few gigs.
And this is the business card they used to do it. The Beatles’ business card proves that sometimes, simple is best.
Lesson learned from The Beatles’ business card design:
There’s so much to learn from the business cards of the world’s most famous people. And if you can take those design lessons and apply them to your own business card design, there’s no reason your business card can’t make as big of an impact as Jobs, Gates, or McCartney. So get out there and get designing!