Business Cards Are for the Birds

“Nobody needs business cards anymore.” At least that’s what I’ve heard from several printers lately. But there it was…in one of the least expected places! With that instantly recognizable little blue bird, lightly debossed on a rich, thick 100 percent cotton paper, “it” was a Twitter business card.

Old and new media collide
All in all, it’s a beautiful, classically designed card, with ample white space and only the necessary contact information. But what made it noteworthy was the choice of letterpress printing.

So why would Twitter produce business cards? And why, of all the printing processes available, did this social media icon opt for one of the oldest forms of printing known to man?

You can credit employee number 80, Elizabeth Bailey Weil, corporate design and culture at Twitter Inc., and her personal goal to make a big company feel small.

Case in point: as of Monday, 35 new people have joined the Twitter team. All 35 found a one-off letterpress printed card on their desks welcoming them to the company.

“I want people to feel like they matter,” explains Weil, “and give them the feeling that even if we are a big corporate entity, they are personally known.”

Making a big company feel small
From a small startup, Twitter has grown to more than 1,500 employees (make that 1,535 including those new hires ;-)) in 10 offices. It would probably be more economical to send a welcoming email to the newbies, or print out a “welcome to the team” letter on the office inkjet printer, but…

“Paper, especially thick paper, has a particular appeal for those who spend hours at a time in front of a screen,” says Weil. “You can pet it.”

Weil’s favorite is the thick, soft, buttery feel of 600 gsm (220-lb. double thick cover) cotton paper.

Sabine Lenz is the founder of, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 

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  • Mark Henry


    There is a world of difference between the $9/250 business card and a custom card done on high quality stock. I have have gotten rave reviews, and significant business from ‘s Luxe series of cards printed on triple thick Mohawk Superfine paper. The response you get from using high-end, personalized communications (high quality business cards, hand written notes with custom envelopes, etc) will more than pay for itself in the quality of business you attract and retain.

  • Jim Eads

    if business cards are dead why do some of the .com printers spend so much for ads during high profile games and shows. It does bother me that these companies put on the air that they are better than a local printer such as myself.

  • Maggie Young

    Many are arguing that with our digital personas we don’t even need business cards. Having something tangible is huge, and really does say, "I’m real, I exist!" Here is a great article that I just read on this topic:

  • Sabine Lenz

    @Mark "The response you get from using high-end, personalized communications will more than pay for itself in the quality of business you attract and retain." I could not have said it better myself Mark. A flimsy $9/250 business cards will get you clients to match ;-))

  • Cheryl B

    Business cards are here to stay! And for those who argue that digital personas are the wave of the future, I point out that a QR code on your business card helps make sure potential clients can contact you in whatever way they like best! Thanks, Cheryl at