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What should I avoid when designing a name badge?

At Name Badges Direct we’ve rescued countless folks from name badges gone wrong. We’re not saying that you will do the same, but sometimes a little reading now could save you a potential mistake when it’s too late! Here are six tips on what to avoid when it comes to your designing and wearing your name badge…

Size

How many times has someone rudely squinted at your chest desperately trying to make out those tiny letters? This is self defeating, embarrassing and actually works to decrease your approachability. Not to mention it makes the other person feel ridiculous! So, much like a retail price tag, your name badge must be readable from ten feet away — both the font and the name badge itself.

According to a name badge survey done by David Alder of Biz Bash, 50% of a group of meeting planners claimed that illegible font size of Name Badges was a major problem. And, consider the 75 million baby boomers that have reached, or will reach their bifocal days, this is a top priority. The recommended font size is 24 point – hopefully bigger if possible. Also be certain to avoid cursive, script or other fancy letters.

Clutter

Avoid name badges with overly thick borders, unnecessary clutter or too much text. Make it easy on the eyes. All of the information contained must be readable and memorable in less than five seconds. For trade shows or other venues with hundreds of people and limited time, be sure that your company name, position and logo are positioned adequately from a networking/prospecting standpoint. (Still readable from 10 feet away)

Other than that, make sure that any supplementary, less important text is significantly smaller than the name itself. Remember, they call them name badges because the name must be the focal point, whether it’s the name of the person or the name of the company, those are the two most important pieces of information.

Color

The most effective background color for name badges is white. This allows maximum visibility for your logo, name and position. Dark blue, green or red backgrounds are used occasionally, but they have a tendency to steal the show from the rest of your name badge.

Write the font in black or dark blue. Never use yellow, orange or any other light color. Even if a dark colour choice means an aesthetic digression, fashion must be outweighed by your name badge’s approachability and visibility! Finally, unless you work in banking/financial services or the restaurant industry, avoid gold name badges.

Placement

The horizontal placement of your name badge is a function of the context in which you wear it. For example, on the right, name badges will be easily visible in the line of sight that correlates to your handshake. Most businesses handbooks will instruct you to wear name badge in this manner. And, it is a good visual aid for people who can’t remember names…which is everyone!

On the other hand, for mobile and populated events such as trade shows, expos and conventions, it is more effective to wear your name badge on your left side. This allows people who approach in your opposite direction to see your name badge with significant ease, since we traditionally walk on the right side of the road/aisle/hallway.

Presence

Although horizontal placement of your name badge is an important consideration, vertical placement is the most important visibility characteristic. A name badge in the middle of your chest is likely to get covered by your arms, papers or some other obstruction. Furthermore, central placement of your name badge will make you unavailable to people outside of your conversation, thus limits your ability to meet more valuable people.

So, your name badge is pointless if it’s worn below your breastbone. The most effective location is two to three inches below your collar bone on whichever side most appropriate for your function. This allows maximum eye contact. Furthermore, high vertical placement of your name badge eliminates the possibility that it will be covered by something. For example, if your name badge hangs too low, it will be impossible for other people to read it when you: sit down, cross your arms, wear a jacket, write down information or use gestures while you talk.

Maximisation

Have you ever seen a five inch name badge with tiny letters the size of sunflower seeds? What a waste! Use any and all blank space provided by your name badge. Make it huge! Don’t worry if you look silly, because everyone looks silly! And, although font size must be large anyway, don’t hesitate to increase the font commensurate with the size of the name badge itself. Imagine your name badge is a personal advertisement. Maximize your space efficiently. Think about this: you will never see a billboard on the highway that only uses half the space provided!

The next time you go to a meeting, convention, seminar or trade show, remember that your name badge is your best friend. In other words, think of your name badge as your front porch. It invites people. It makes them feel comfortable. And, it initiates conversations that transform strangers into valuable connections. But, like any good front porch, it’s important to create and wear name badges that are visible, accessible, and efficient so you will maximise your approachability.

* From Seven Deadly Sins of Ineffective nametags, Scott Ginsberg, “The Nametag Guy”