By Sammy Blindell, marketing expert, The Brand Brains team

When you start thinking about branding and building a brand identity, the business card is sure to enter the conversation. Your business card is your mini-me, your billboard and the level of creativity you use when designing it will determine its fate.

To keep your business card out of the dust bin, here are some tips from 12 branding design masterminds:

A metal-working shop distributes brushed-metal business cards, with the name of the business and other pertinent information cut from it, as with a stencil. A ring on one end of the card makes it useful as a keychain.

A computer repair company circulates bi-fold business cards that, when opened, look just like little laptops. On the screens, recipients will find the company’s name and contact information.

A fashion designer hands out business cards containing punch-out paper dolls that can be assembled and stood upright on a desk. Each doll’s dress displays relevant information.

A production company’s business cards are numbered and styled like oversized theatre tickets, touting the business as the main act.

A packing company’s card is covered in transparent bubble wrap – to convey a shipping message and to quell recipients’ nerves.

A coin dealer distributes business cards that are thick, round, metallic-looking, and ribbed along the edges – just like coins.

An embroidery company hands out business cards that are created, and embroidered, in the fashion of iron-on name tags.

A music shop has cards manufactured to look and feel just like giant guitar picks. Another has heavy paper business cards printed that contain slits in which they place a real guitar pick (printed with the company name and phone number).

A bakery offers thin, business-card-sized cookies that are printed, scalloped, and wrapped. Sure, the cards get eaten, but no one will forget where to go for another.

A packaging and holiday gift-wrapping company presents bi-fold business cards that are tied up with attached ribbons or jute string.

A children’s toy company uses cards on which all creatures come equipped with glued-on googly eyes.

An accounting firm hands out business cards inside envelopes. The cards can be slid in and out of the envelopes (which contain strategically placed windows) to calculate tips for waiters and waitresses.

Little or no branding can be accomplished with a ho-hum, unoriginal business card. The possibilities and the reach of your branding are limited only by your imagination and the level of branding design that you incorporate.

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