Name badges are an essential component of every conference, but it's easy to approach them as something of an afterthought. After all, it’s a name badge, right? How difficult can it be?
The fact is that a name badge says a lot more about your conference than just identifying the people who are attending. Putting some extra thought into your badge can do more for your event than you might realize.
For starters, the badge gives an instant impression about the quality of your event. Think about the difference between handing someone a peel-off, stick-on label with their name printed on it ... or giving them a four-color laminate badge on a customized lanyard. You’ve immediately upped your game and are sending out a message that they're about to participate in a first-class event.
There are several reasons to give a lot of thought to your conference name badge and plenty of ways to make sure that you’re getting the most mileage out of it. First, let’s look at what purposes your conference name badges serve.
Five Things Conference Name Badges Do for Your Event
Yes, in theory, the purpose of a name badge is to identify the wearer. But that’s just the beginning of what it can do at your event. If designed correctly, your conference name can also do all of the following:
1. Help Brand Your Event
Branding is an essential part of your marketing efforts, and the badges you provide should reflect as much thought as your signage, flyers and other conference materials. Be sure to integrate the logo, slogan and colors of your event so that your messaging is consistent. If you have sponsors, you could also include their logos across the bottom, depending on the size and style of the badge.
2. Create Networking Opportunities
One of the big reasons people attend business conferences is for networking opportunities, and you can design your badges to help attendees identify, at a glance, the people they want to connect with. Some organizations still do this with color-coded ribbons that attach to the badge holder and designate if someone is a speaker, exhibitor, etc. But a better way to accomplish this is to color-code the badges themselves. Whether that means a colored bar across the top or bottom of the badge, or the background color used on the badge, this is a seamless way to identify attendees while at the same time giving you fewer moving parts to keep track of.
3. Start Conversations
Not everyone’s an extrovert. For some people, the hardest part of going to a conference is trying to meet new people and start conversations. Name badges help ease that awkwardness; they help attendees remember the name of the person they talked to in line the night before or can provide an entry point into a conversation — such as the name of the company they work for or the city they live in. (Or, if you want to let attendees customize their badges, you’re opening the door to all kinds of unique conversation starters.)
4. Enhance Security
Regardless of what kind of event you’re hosting, security is always a major consideration these days. Requiring conference name badges ensures that only the individuals who are registered and are supposed to be there are able to walk into the event. For that reason, you should make it mandatory that badges must be worn at all times. If needed, you can always add an extra layer of security to your event badges by using barcodes or other security measures.
5. Increase Your Visibility on Social Media
Be sure to include your handles for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media, and encourage attendees to tag you in photos and posts related to your event. After all, what better way to get more attendees next year than for people to see what a great time this year’s attendees are having? If you’re concerned the front of the badge is getting too cluttered, remember that you can use the back of your badge for this kind of information — as well as for other messaging.
Time to Design a Better Conference Badge
Now that you know what your badge can do for you, it’s time to ensure that you design your badge with these key objectives in mind. To do that, follow these three pro tips:
1. Make it readable
Even though you want to include your logo and event branding, you don’t want it to overpower the name of the person wearing it. Make sure that the attendee’s name stands out with a large, easy-to-read font. (Some of those cool artsy fonts might give your badges an edgy look, but don’t sacrifice readability for the sake of art.) If names, titles and company names aren’t easy to read, there’s not much point in having them, is there?
You can play with the design and make the first name larger than the last, or keep both names the same size, but make sure the badge can easily be read from about 15 feet away. And avoid unusual formats that diminish readability.
2. Check the colors
This goes hand-in-hand with readability. There should be plenty of contrast in the color of ink used for the name of the attendee and the background; look at it in different types of lighting to make sure the font isn’t going to disappear in darker rooms. Be mindful of the age of your attendees and make sure the font is large enough and clear enough for over-40 eyes.
3. Go big
One way to make badges more readable — and therefore more effective — is to make them larger. A big 3.5 X 5.5-inch badge or 4 X 6-inch badge gives you more room to create the perfectly designed conference name badge that checks all of the boxes. You won’t have to cram your design onto a small, standard-size badge, and you will have more flexibility with what you can create.
Create a Badge to Remember
When you put in the extra time and effort to design a truly useful badge, it will speak volumes about the rest of your conference. Set the tone for your event with the right badge, and it could make a bigger impact for attendees than you realize.