My Google Card

This is what I call a ‘Google card’ . And it’s my newest “visiting card”. The front side of the card has just the search box with my name. My first set of 100 cards came from the printers today and I’m super impressed with how they turned out. So impressed was I that I placed an extra order for 400 cards.

The idea originated from Japanese ads. For more, go ahead and read my Business Standard column that I reproduce below. Here’s link to the story that appeared in print.

Search box replaces URLs in ads.

A recent visit to the Japanese consulate helped me in designing my latest business card. It has nothing but just the google logo and my name in the search box.

Let me walk you through my experience.

While waiting at the reception of the Japan consulate, I picked up a few magazines lying on the table . My knowledge of the Japanese language begins and ends with the word ‘sayonara’ and that too if its written in English!

While flipping through the magazine whose language was greek to me, I noticed something familiar about the advertisements. Some of the ads had the Google search box while few others had the Yahoo! search boxes as part of their advertisements.

That’s when it stuck me. What a wonderful strategy. Instead of putting in the website URL you encourage the person to just search for your company or brand. Its much more easier to remember the keyword as against the URL.

Whoever came up with this concept has actually been paying attention to the way people use the web browser. Most people use the web search to easily get to a website.

That’s the same idea I used for my business card too. I love the idea for various reasons. First, its unique. Second, googling for my name not only throws up my website it also shows my Flickr page, my twitter account, my YouTube page, links to my podcast and my writings on the NASSCOM blog. That’s like hitting six mangoes with one stone.

I noticed that this idea of putting in Search Boxes is also an excellent mobile strategy. Typing in the full URL in a mobile phone can be quite painful and it becomes easy to just search for a company’s name. No wonder most advertisements inside Japanese trains have the search box embedded in them.

Pontiac does this in their TV ads. Instead of the generic URL, they have Google ‘pontiac’ to find out more.” When doing so, you must also realize that you are at risk of losing out the mileage to a quick thinking competitor. At times when Search Engine Optimization is a billion dollar business, there are specialist agencies that work solely on bringing a particular website on top of a web search. So, you don’t want your competitor reaping the benefits of your advertisements.

Pontiac made exact that mistake. While they made sure their site came up top, they did not pay attention to the sponsored links section. When one searches for ‘Pontiac’ in Google, you get its competitor, Honda’s ad on the top. Big mistake. Just to play doubly safe, companies are encouraged to buy the top Google ‘sponsored adword’ so that their link is guaranteed to be on top of the search page.

The UK Government has also used this technique effectively. They recently started a campaign called ‘Act on CO2’ to encourage people to cut down on the carbon emissions. On their TV advertisements, rather than saying “Visit double-yoo double-yoo double-yoo dot dee eff tee dot gov dot yoo-kay forward-slash act on see-oh-too”, they just say “Search for ‘act on co2′”. The same concept can be effectively used in Radio advertisements.

Its just a matter of time before we see this practice happening in Indian advertisements too.

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  1. Kenney Jacob Says: May 25, 2009 at 2:55 am

    thats a nice idea. Im gonna try this myself

  2. Kiruba Shankar Says: May 25, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Thanks. Make sure you get your site as the top result on Google. That’s important.

  3. Anbusivam Says: May 25, 2009 at 3:00 am

    Super….Kiruba…!!! Nice one. Yes, now I remember, the way I used to type the key word in Google, i.e my home page, though I know the full url, just b’cos I need not type all that http://www…… I too will try with Anbusivam.

  4. Thats a great idea Kiruba. The more unique the name, the better. Of course you need to rank #1 … forever.

  5. Seriously?! are you sure there will be no legal issues? Can Google sue you? Can somebody sue you for deceit? just curious..

  6. Yadhvi,
    If anything.. Kiruba is promoting google.. why will google have an issue with that??


  7. Sudhir syal Says: May 25, 2009 at 3:03 am

    Hi Kiruba,

    Well written piece.. only thing is I have often referred to visiting cards while travelling or even at office when Im not necessarily using a computer- so the number not being on the card could be inconvenient.

    But some variant of this could certainly be used instead of URL’s in offline to online advertising…

  8. Kiruba Shankar Says: May 25, 2009 at 3:03 am


    I have printed my email ‘’ and my mobile number on the back of the card.

    I didn’t want to do this in the first place. I strongly believe in minimalism. Also, I’d like to awe the person and make him wonder about the card. If the guy stares at the card for 3 seconds, you have yourself imprinted in his memory. You stand out just because you are diffrent (not necessarily because its good). I’ve found this strategy quite good in conferences.

    But then it would be cumbersome to everytime to write down the number and email. Hence decided to print them instead.

  9. Kiruba Shankar Says: May 25, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Well said, Pat.

    Yadvi, I don’t think Google would take offense. In this case, I’m treating “Google Kiruba” as a verb and just replacing the word Google with the logo that everybody quickly connects.

    I’m doing this in the spirit of things and I have very high regard for Google and its brand. I’m fairly confident that the folks at Google appreciate that.

  10. Kiruba Shankar Says: May 25, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Anbu, yup, its important to come first on the search result. Not many have that privilege (especially for people with generic names). That’s what gives people like (who have unique names) an edge.

  11. Anbusivam Says: May 25, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Yes, coming first on the search is the key here. Though my blogger profile page comes first when I google “anbusivam”, it also says “Did you mean: anbuselvam” that is where I am apprehensive. I am wondering how can I get rid of that..?

  12. Awesom Kiruba..the idea is great and can be explored by people who would like to stand out in the crowd..I’m sure you are one of them.


  13. Its working for me too..meetasimpleguy in google shows my blogspot…

  14. What an idea!!!!!
    I read a lot of graphic design/ webdesign blogs covers on latest trend in business card design. But this new and classic. 🙂
    But depends on Google ranks :(.

  15. Fantastic idea. Even i want to put it on my new card. Thanks

  16. Mackenzie Says: May 25, 2009 at 5:23 am

    It’s nothing to do with paying attention to how people use browsers and everything to do with language. See, although Unicode URLs fit perfectly fine within the standard, in reality, Internet Explorer barfs if you try to use them. Thus, all companies need to use latin characters for their URLs, and good luck remembering a seemingly-random assortment of characters from a foreign tongue which mean absolutely nothing to you. While they should be able to use としば.jp, Internet Explorer makes that impossible, so they revert to latin letters they can’t read, and then have to search to get their because they can’t remember the characters to spell the URL.

  17. i think its a brilliant idea! was very curious to know the idea behind the card and logged onto fine out – amazing!

  18. Hey that’s a super intelligent idea!

  19. charakan Says: May 25, 2009 at 5:24 am

    Good idea for those who need to give their business cards to net-savy people only.I won’t be able to do that.I am a doc in a small town and very few of my patients use net regularly

  20. Karthik Narayan Says: May 25, 2009 at 5:24 am

    nifty card… I have one of yours now 🙂 nice and thanks!

  21. Yes, Google can come after you. This is because of unauthorised use of their trademark (in this case the logo) on your business cards, which can be seen as misrepresenting yourself as a Google employee.

    My recommendation would be to contact Google and make sure it’s okay, otherwise you’re asking for legal trouble that might just not be worth the cool factor.

  22. cool idea !!!!!
    but recently i came across a different story . search for google + CO2 .. now ppl got to think twice you see

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