Badge your event better

Whatever the size of your event or conference, first impressions count. The car parking, the pathfinder signage and welcome branding; it all counts towards determining your guests’ initial impressions of your event.

And the same goes for their name badge.

So rather than printing out their names in Times New Roman and buying the same old throw-away badge holders, turn it into an opportunity.

Branded, personalised name badges make a big impression

Greeting attendees with a branded, plastic name badge conveys a far more professional image than a paper one ever could.

It’s also a key branding opportunity: one that’s on show for the whole of the conference or event, and will be prominent in any photography or media coverage.

So what’s the best – and most cost-effective – way to do it?

You’ll need a plastic card printer, commonly referred to as an ID card printer.

These aren’t as expensive as you might think. The model you’ll need (and therefore the cost involved) will depend on how much of a workhorse you need it to be. Entry level plastic card printers like the Evolis Badgy start at around £650 and are perfectly good for the light user, though you can spend up to £3,000 on an all-singing, all-dancing model if you need to produce large volumes of cards quickly.

Evolis Badgy ID card printer
Small and lightweight, the Badgy has everything you need to get started – just plug in and print

Most are small and lightweight, easy to carry around and designed to sit comfortably on a registration desk.

Before the event, set up the design template you want printed on the badges (you do this through the card design software) and do some test runs.

You can then pre-print attendees names so that they’re ready for them as soon as they arrive, or if you want to minimise wastage, print them when they turn up on the day.

Speed the process up by having the base cards pre-printed

Where this doesn’t work so well is when you have large numbers of people arriving at the same time.

One way to speed up the process is by having the card design pre-printed onto a stock of cards, so all you have to do is over-print the name on the day.

The most cost-effective way to do this (particularly in large numbers) is for a plastic card bureau to print a bank of cards, which you then put through your own ID card printer when required.

The bigger the run of cards at the bureau, the cheaper the unit price. So if you have a number of events planned throughout the year, think ahead and order all your cards now to make it most cost-effective.

Need the cards to be more than just name badges?

Using a card bureau is often the best way if you need the cards to do something more than just identify the wearer. For example, if you want the cards to also act as an access control card, or smart card; allowing the attendee to access VIP areas of a conference for example; it’s quicker and easier to have these capabilities already programmed rather than trying to do it on the day.

Then think about how your attendees will wear them

If you’ve spent time creating beautifully branded name badges, make sure they are shown off to their full advantage. Some card holders can encroach on the design; others require you to punch a hole in the card to attach to a lanyard or holder.

Pin crocodile clip for name badges
Using this fitting, the name badge can be pinned or clipped onto clothing

The easiest way to let the name badges take centre stage is to use a pin/crocodile clip, that affixes onto the card via an adhesive pad.

Want to recycle and re-use the cards?

Thousands of name badges end up in the bin at the end of conferences, but there is a way to re-use them.

A re-writable ID card printer, like the Evolis Tattoo, allows you to rewrite and reprint the same card up to 500 times.

Which not only makes it rather clever, but also highly economical and environmentally efficient.

Evolis Tattoo rewritable card printer
Lightweight and small, the Evolis Tattoo can re-print the same card up to 500 times

So ask your attendees to hand their badges in at the end of the conference, erase the name and you’ll have a card ready for your next event. The branding design that was pre-printed by the card bureau won’t be erased; just the name details you entered through your own card printer.

One thing to note: you’ll need to buy rewritable cards, regular plastic cards won’t do it.

Of course if your budget will stretch to a self-service registration kiosk that automates the entire registration and badging process, then brilliant. But if it doesn’t, there’s still plenty you can do to improve the way you badge your attendees.