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What’s In A Nametag?

It may sound trite, but in this industry we all – suppliers, planners, attendees – deal with nametags. Whether it’s company issued or convention required I.D. we all end up wearing and dealing with some version of the standard issue tag. And despite the fact that it’s basic meeting management 101, the procurement, production, organization and distribution of name tags continues to pose challenges for planners. Why? Because all meetings, no matter the size, almost without fail require some form of identification for attendees.  Like them or not, we all use them; but, do we use them wisely, effectively, and purposely? Sometimes, not so much.

Some people feel awkward when given a nametag. They don’t know where to put it – left or right; high or low? Who even cares about it? Well, true story here, I once met a planner who actually got her planning career start because she was put in charge of printing her company’s name tags for a specific annual event. That’s right. She became an actual full time planner because she did such a stellar job with the simplest, most menial of planning tasks that it lead to one promotion after another until she was actually in charge of that company’s meetings and events. All because she took the time to think that first project through from start to finish identifying who would wear those tags and what they would see. Prior to that her company had provided write-your-own-stick-on-badges and got the expected effect. Some attendees wore tags and some didn’t. No one could read them or use them effectively to meet others during their event because vital networking information was missing.

So, when was the last time you put any effort into thinking about a name tag? I’m guessing never, or only when forced to get them printed, perhaps even last minute when budget goes out the window and it turns into a get-the-job-done-at-any-cost project. Well here are some basic guidelines and considerations to think about if ‘get me those name tags!’ comes under your radar:

  • Make sure they are READABLE, and we’re not just referring to selection and size of font but also color, shading, background clutter, etc.
  • Always have extra blank ones on hand for reprints, walk-ins, etc. Even if they are the write on/stick on type, if everyone else has one on you need to allow for additions and changes, omissions and mistakes with the pre-printed versions.
  • With so many product choices out there now there’s no excuse for the “I can’t wear it because it will ruin my clothing!” chant. Clip-ons, adjustable lanyards and magnets are all affordable options, even if you just have a dozen or so available of each variety for attendees to choose from, that way you’ve got them all covered. Oh, and subtle HINT to women who need to make some adjustments for the visual ‘landing height’ of said badge: lanyards can easily be tied behind your neck to raise it up a bit above your ‘ta-taas’, unless of course, that’s where you want everyone to look!
  • Plan for extra stock used only for guest badges. This can also be pre-printed with basic background information (program or company logo, guest status, applicable dates, color coding, etc.) allowing space for names added on demand.
  • Don’t forget that name tags can be used as great networking tools. Instructing people to add their favorite wine, exotic travel destination, or even Celebrity Chef can start fun conversations or kick off your teambuilding sessions.

Oh, and are you wondering exactly where the placement of that name tag belongs? Experts say it should land on the right lapel/shoulder which is the natural vision line as you reach to shake hands (apologies to all the left handers out there).

So, now do you believe in the power of a well-planned name tag? Maybe it’s time you rethink what your company is using and make sure it’s both readable and effective.

Terry Matthews-Lombardo, CMP

Terry has a long history as a successful meeting planner, and was among the first to become Certified in 1987. Her TML Services Group client list includes a variety of corporate, association and incentive programs held all over the globe  Additionally, her alter ego is that of a writer focusing on industry trends and tips, and you’ll find her published in multiple trade magazines including this one. Watch for writing updates via her blog, Terry is also the author of the newly released book Meetings Mayhem! which is a fun look at the chaos behind the scenes with meetings and events, now available wherever books are sold.