Identity application: business cards, CV and cover letter

20th March

The focus of today’s lecture was on stationary materials, business card and letterhead design. We thought about how to apply our identity to these pieces. These different elements can build up a picture about who I am. 

When building a professional identity, I’ve considered typography to use throughout identity application, for example, cv and website. An example is on the Blox website. We can see here that their display type face and body copy are 2 different typefaces that work nicely together and form this identity. These can be applied to the cv for use as headings to reflect your identity right from the point where you are applying for the job. Equally, 1 typeface can be used that has bold, medium and regular.

An example is the design for the architectural firm Blox. The urban landscape and architecture duality is reflected in their logo. The elements of their identity come together in their logo, typeface, colours- this can be called their identity toolkit.

from Book of Branding
Blox on Behance

A ‘logo lock up’ is when the elements group together – the combination of the logo and company/individual’s name together in a balanced and coherent way. This might be that the name and logo are centred on a business card.

  • We could explore use of colours or using just black and white – either is fine.
  • We can look at using a main colour alongside a supporting/secondary colours.
from Book of Branding
  • What you see on the screen may not be what is printed, this is important to keep in mind and means that we  need to print out and test out for this when using colour in our work.
‘Are business cards dead?’

When I was at last year’s Illustrator fair in King’s Cross, I took home many business cards. What I remember from this collection was the wide variety and clear expression of the illustrator’s style and character. Being all from illustrators they did seem to have something in common, for instance their drawings displayed on the card.

It occurred to me during this lecture that the person’s occupation has the biggest impact on what the card will look like. The business card of a graphic designer is expected to show their creativity, whichever way they choose to express this. The business card of a real estate agent will be predictably more ‘conventional’ or straight-forward than someone with a creative profession.

Adding functionality to a card makes it fun and more likely that people will hold onto it, since it is useful for something.
  • Exploration in terms of printing. There are many printing techniques that we might want to explore e.g. foil or  embossing. Paper from GF Smith can help me to find certain colours.
  • Business cards provide a sweet and nice application, it’s the first thing you might see of a person. The card can contain your logo, website, social media handles and email.
  • It can be conversational or ironic, it doesn’t need to be dull. For instance, Sarah Ferrari’s business card that plays on the awareness of her surname in connection with the popular car brand.
Sarah Ferrari’s business card
  • The card can be fun and start a conversation ‘nice to meet you’.  It Can include something that says something about you. A business card can give a strong message, making a promise to potential clients for instance.
  • Anni Kuan- Sagmeister, this business card has been presented like a little leaflet. When folded, the message is completed. This concept also used on the envelope and letterhead.
Sagmeister, Anni Kuan

Printing Techniques-

Blind embossing/ debossing is an option. This involves not actually printing anything. Instead, the shapes are pressed into the material. We would need to use a thick card for this.

dot studio, white screen-printing and blind embossing
Stitch Press, blind embossing

Foil blocking – applying a hot foil onto the dye. Different colours, crafty

Foil blocked business card, Rheannon Cummins. She has use recycled grey board which was sourced locally. Sustainable options might have compromised the design. However, paired with the shiny foil type, the 2 elements balance each other out.

Duplexing and multiplexing sandwich business card pressing 2 cards together duotone- a dark side and a light side.

Mash Creative, foil blocked business card. ‘Duplexed business cards printed on 2 x 350gsm GF Smith Colorplan with white foil backs’
Multiplexing and duplexing from Dot Studio
Colour edging, dye cutting

Business cards can tell a story, it’s a portable marketing tool, a glimpse into who you are. A good example of this is Sometimes Always Fidele identity. They have used a  risograph press to print this business card. The card then becomes a physical demonstration of the work they do.  

Sometimes Always, Fidele identity
Marina Cardoso, riso printed business card with a variety of designs on the back of the card. Printed in 2 colours.
  • Another options is to design a series of cards- maybe with a logo variation, as Sometimes Always has done.  
  • It is good to be minimal with what you include. When a business card contains too much information, it looks busy and chaotic which is off-putting on such a small scale.The use of white space can help when designing a business card.
  • The standard size is 55mm x 85mm, leaving a margin
  • Use a grid, e.g. 8 x 5
  • The type needs to be legible and stand out after printing, one way to know this is test printing.
  • The information can be placed vertically or horizontally depending on your logo. Below is an example of vertical (portrait) placement:  
  • It can be fun to use elements of your logo shape throughout the design, for example using squares from your logo as bullet points to present the important information. This builds a coherent theme/style.
  • Think of hierarchy. By placing the most important information first, this makes the reader’s job easier.
Kiki Buchaniec

These business cards (above) were linocut. Her business is illustration, therefore making this technique appropriate.

CV/ covering letter
  • The most important information tends to be placed on header of the letter, but this isn’t always the case (See below, Sputnik identity).
  • The letterhead you design can be used on the template for the cv and covering letter.
Sometimes Always, Sputnik identity
For the Fidele identity, the contact details as well as the logotype have been placed in the footer of the company’s invoice template.

From Building Design Portfolios by Sara Eisenman:

One section of the book talks about designing a CV. In this example, the author compares a poorly deisgned CV alongside the improved version (right). I was drawn to the pop of colour and the clear sections. This makes it easier to read. As does the narrower lines of text compared to the first draft.

From Designers Identities‘ by Liz Farrelly:

I like the simplicity of this business card design. The designer is playful with her choice of orientation. She has placed the type at the centre on both sides of the card which makes the card uniform. I like her use of colour on just one side of the card. This makes it clear which side is the back.

Magpie Studio have used photography in their business card to indicate the analogue technique used by the studio. This gave me an idea that I sketched in my sketchbook, where I could use photography to showcase my own printing process on a business card.

Marc & Anna. The designers have played on the ampersand in their name for the identity shown on their business cards. I like that the style of this symbol is varied but the impact is the same. This works because they have stuck with black and white for their identity; also because the rest of the design is kept the same, in terms of type and layout used.

Professional Practice Week 2

We began the week by discussing with our tutors, what we hope for our future careers. This took the form of an informal presentation, where classmates were encouraged to get involved and think about specific design industries and studios.

This is an exciting time in the course. Suddenly the real world is on the horizon!


I was happy to share my ideas with the group, however, what I realised is:

  • I don’t really have a clear idea yet.
  • I might know what I admire in other’s work, but I hope my path will become clearer as I continue to work on briefs and keep my eye open to new ideas.
  • I don’t have much confidence in my work. For example, I can look at a beautiful editoral layout that uses experimental elements, but to believe that I am capable of anything nearly as inspiring?
  • I know at least one thing. That the morals and ethics are number 1 for me. That art, healthcare and education are the topics I am most passionate about if I had to narrow it down.
  • The group was smaller in size today. I enjoyed this experience much more because I got to hear from every individual. I felt more involved and enjoyed participating in discussions. I like being able to offer advice to others and be supportive.
  • Researching studios could really be an endless task! I’m sure if I continued to research it would influence me further.

Below is a PDF of my presentation slides:

I realised afterwards that I never mentioned printmaking, but printmaking is normally used as part of an illustrators process, rather than a discipline in itself.

We discussed that what I may be more interested in is the concept itself, as in creative direction.

Sketchbook Logotype Experimentation

This week, I continued to experiment with monograms in my sketchbook. I used a felt tip pen to sketch these ideas. I then took 4 of these ideas forward and drew them using a paintbrush and purple ink. (The purple had no significance, I used it because I wanted a dark colour for contrast and couldn’t find the black ink at home.)

(below) I then used collage pieces to create the letterforms from paper, using scissors. I layered these on the page, considering the composition and negative space.

(Below, right) I wanted to see the effect water would have with the ink. I wet the page with water then drew the ‘DB’ with ink and the end of the paintbrush. Below this, I drew the Db with diluted ink. I like the softness of this.

Digital Iterations

I scanned these experimentations and placed them into Adobe Illustrator.

I Image-traced them. For example, the grey monograms above were made by selecting ‘shades of grey’ and the darker monograms beneath were from selecting ‘silhouette’. I then played with Effect > Stylize > Scribble. This gave the letterforms a rougher appearance.

On one monogram, I used a box to place the initials in and crop the edges off. I chose a square because I feel I have the square characteristics (from last week’s workshop).

Sketchbook Logo shapes

Further experimentation with squares and circles.

Contextual References

I looked at how designers have used shapes within their logo designs.

Fedoriv’s identity for Rezult

‘Korosten MDF Plant in Ukraine is an environmentally friendly factory producing laminate flooring and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) panels.‘ In this example, Fedoriv have formed the ‘R’ using a rectangle as a separate shape to the rest of the letterform. It looks as though it is holding up the rest of the ‘R’. This gives the impression of stability, reflecting the theme of construction.

Development of dovetail joint symbol, logo, and signage. Jack Renwick Studio, Carpenters Wharf

(Above) The squares are rotated and divided by a wood joint line. The texture of wood is key in the identity and is used within the square shape.

The square pattern looks like a kind of rectangular puzzle grid and is placed within the letterforms.

ico Design, Burst

For the identity for this oral care brand, ico Design have constructed the letterforms from a repetition of circles.

From Letterhead Logo Design II (Rockport) by Design Army:

‘We believe in simplicity. In fact, you could say that it’s part of our identity. Our logo is a star. Our colors are red, brown, and mint green We use one typeface. It’s simple, consistent, effective—all the things you’d expect from a powerful brand. Simplicity is perfection…Along the way, we confirmed what we already knew: It’s the little thoughts that have the biggest impact.’

Visual identity for Design Army
Default’s design for Merge Architectur
Blok Design’s identity for Taller De Empresa
Asli Kuris Design, for the client Ayse Ebru Tuner

This receipt was from the cafe I ate at this week. I like the way the ‘c’ and ‘o’ have been entwined.

Below: The author’s initials are combined to create this geometric monogram. The monogram is appropriate for the theme, since Douglas Adams is a science fiction writer.