When you’re planning a meeting or event, there are a lot of moving parts to take care of; all of those details play some role in its success and how it’s remembered. One element that might be easy to overlook in the early planning stages — but is actually quite important — is the kind of name badge you want for attendees.
Although name badges are designed with the primary purpose of identifying attendees, they actually provide many functions beyond that. They’re a great way to brand your event and to enhance networking; they’re also useful in increasing your visibility on social media and can even improve security at your event.
In order to get the most out of your event badge, you’ll want to consider all of your options in selecting, printing and displaying your badge. Here are five important things to consider when planning your event badges to help make your next meeting or event run smoothly.
1. Determine the Right Kind of Badge
The kind of name badge you choose says a lot about the event itself, which is why you don’t want it look like it was an afterthought. And you certainly don’t want to resort to those write-on peel-and-stick name badges; your badge should be an extension of your event and all the marketing you’ve created around it.
You want a badge that is visually appealing but also can take on whatever attendees subject it to; that means it should be able to weather incidents like coffee spills and rainstorms — and still look like a million bucks. Using high-quality materials that will hold their color not only ensures that badges will last throughout your event, but it lends more credibility to the caliber of event that you’re hosting.
2. Select Your Design
Designing a good event badge means striking that perfect balance between art and information. You don’t want to overdo the design and cram so much information on the badge that it’s hard to read, but you also want to make sure it’s as attractive as it is useful. One idea is to follow the 10-foot rule, knowing that people who are networking will want to be able to read names from about 10 feet away. Is your badge readable from that distance? If not, you might want to head back to the drawing board.
This is where working with a designer, either in-house or through your badge printer, can help you make the right choices. You want to avoid fonts that are too small or narrow and can get lost in the color of the background. And, when it comes to color, always make sure it doesn’t overpower the rest of the design.
You have lots of options, so these should all be taken into consideration from the beginning. It could be helpful to make a list of what you want included in the badge design; if you’re trying to include too much, think about why people are attending the event — then only include the information and elements that will support that purpose. (Of course, you should always make sure that your logo or branding appears on the badge.)
3. Think About How It Will Be Displayed
The tell-tale sign of conference attendees used to be the presence of pin holes in a shirt or suit lapel. Fortunately, we’ve moved on. Today there are (thankfully) more options that don’t leave such a lasting impression. As you’re planning your badges, think about how and where it will be displayed. Will it be clipped onto a lapel or collar? Worn on a lanyard? Will it be placed inside a vinyl or plastic holder? Deciding how it is going to be displayed will help inform your design and also affects your costs.
If you’re going to use a lanyard, you can use that as another branding opportunity for your logo or can ask one of your event sponsors if they’d like to sponsor the lanyard. Or you could include the logos of multiple sponsors and make it part of their overall sponsorship package.
4. Decide When and Where Badges Will Be Printed
When it comes to the physical printing of your meeting badge, there are basically two options: You can outsource production and printing of all of the badges before the event and have them ready for attendees to pick up, or you can have them printed on-site.
Having them pre-printed means they’ll be ready to go when attendees arrive. If you decide to print them on-site and on demand, you’ll need to make sure you have a large enough staff for someone to handle the printing. They'll need to be able to manage all the tasks related to printing the badges and should also be capable of troubleshooting and resolving and issues that arise. While there are some great economical printers out there, make sure you look at features as well as cost before making your final buying decision.
Some of the things to consider are speed and color capabilities; you don’t want to put a lot of hard work into your design and be stuck with a printer that simply can’t capture the sharp colors of your design. You also want to make sure that it can print badges quickly enough to keep registration lines from getting longer; the idea is to be able to move attendees through the line as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Regardless of which method you choose, make sure that you have a plan for providing badges to attendees who sign up at the last minute. If you’re already printing on-site, this will be easier, but if you’re printing badges in advance, you might want to look at pre-printing a few extra badges, then run those through an economical printer to add the names as needed. Or you could print the names on clear adhesive labels and then place them on the pre-printed badges. Talk with your badge printer to find out what options are available, then choose the one that’s right for you.
5. Create a Plan to Distribute Your Badges
Once you have answered all the other questions about your meeting badge, you need a solid plan for how they’ll be distributed. If each attendee is getting a welcome bag with a conference program and other essential items, their badge could be attached to the outside of the bag. Keep in mind, however, that this takes a great deal of organization to make sure the right bags are given to the right attendee.
Some other ways to keep the badge distribution moving smoothly is to do one of the following:
- Have a table with all of the registration badges and let attendees look for their own. Make sure there’s a staff member or volunteer at the table to keep it organized and answer questions.
- Have multiple lines for attendees to check in, divided alphabetically by smaller groups to keep the lines moving faster.
- Offer early check-in for those who arrive the night before; this can help cut down on bottlenecking the day of the event.
Plan Ahead for a Better Experience
Including badge design and distribution as part of your overall event planning will help make it a seamless part of the meeting experience. When you can keep both your attendees and your sponsors happy, your chances are better that all will return next year.