A friend commented at the weekend that ‘American university business cards are more friendly than ours’. I failed to probe much into what this might mean at the time, though the view that the Edge Hill ones are ‘corporate’ was expressed. Today I’ve pulled the US cards from my Rolodex (a Luddite piece of equipment which nevertheless has yet to be improved upon) seeking to discern the extra friendliness. I’m struggling: none have smiley faces dotting the ‘i’s, exhortations to ‘have a nice day’, or discount coupons for Care Bears redeemable at a nearby mall. They don’t say things like ‘Hi! I’m Frank’ and as far as I can recall none were presented with an invitation to a group hug or immediate adjournment to a family barbecue, ‘baby shower’ or ‘kegger’ . (Having said that I did get taken to a church service in Wisconsin once. As it was July 4th, much was made of independence from the yoke of the beastly English. The patriotic hymn ‘America’ was sung, ironically to the tune of ‘God Save the Queen’, the lyrics of which I mumbled subversively… before handing out my unfriendly UK business cards accompanied by spitting and head butts.)
What the American cards do have is serifs on the fonts, and heraldic logos. To me this approach could signify tradition and prestige more than friendliness – but it’s all in the eye of the beholder of course. The Edge Hill visual identity seeks to be modern and does not attempt an appeal to heritage. Hopefully this doesn’t in itself make for an unfriendly image – we actually score highly for friendliness in surveys so overall we must be doing something right.
Meanwhile, I’m going through my own stock of cards and handwriting ‘S.W.A.L.K’ on them with a pink gel pen… just to soften the blow.