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Here are some words of wisdom from Clint Neuerburg, our Art Director, on how to get the most out of your conference badges.

Access is known for lighting up the music world with great backstage pass design.

But truth be told, we do a ton of work for conferences, too. Who said stunning, functional event badge design was just for the rock-stars?

As any conference-goer can tell you, the look and feel of a conference badge reflects the conference itself. Badges can range from exquisite, gold-stamped, designer badges fit for the Sultan of Brunei to something pulled from the recycle bin at the downtown Copy-mart.

Not that a badge needs every bell and whistle to convey quality. In fact this blog is meant to show how a little design and some common sense will result in good-looking badges that serve as great networking tools and beautiful representations of your event and your brand sponsors.

We make thousands of conference badges each year, and while the design of each badge is ultimately dictated by the needs of the client, there are a few almost-universals we like to see. So read on!

1) [BADGE] SIZE MATTERS!

While we offer a cornucopia of different sizes, what works best for most conferences is our 3.75” x 5” badge. We’ve made so many laminates in this size that we actually refer to it as the “Conference Size,” whether it’s for a conference or not.

2) FIRST NAME COMES FIRST

Rule of thumb: delegate 2/3 of the front of the conference badge for personalization (name, title, organization, etc.) Preferred layout for data is:

FIRST NAME (in the biggest point size and preferably bold)
LAST NAME (slightly smaller and not necessarily bold)
Title/Company (smaller than last name)
Other Stuff (you get the idea)

3) FONTS. THEY’RE CLASSICS FOR A REASON.

When it comes to font choice, bigger is usually better and sans-serif is almost always best. Fonts like Helvetica and Gotham are ubiquitous for a reason; they maximize legibility for a small amount of information to be read quickly at a distance. You can get tricky with more stylized sans-serif fonts, but we keep returning to the basics because they work and fit with nearly every design.

4) DESIGN DESIGN DESIGN

The actual graphic elements of great design are a bit trickier to navigate with these clunky things called words. But here are a few guidelines:

If collateral for the conference exists before the badges are designed, then we recommend aligning with that look and feel. When given free reign, I personally like the look of clean lines, minimal design, and a small color palette. I also tend to use only one or two key elements in my design. Loading the background up with a bunch of crazy textures and a rainbow of colors almost never results in an aesthetically pleasing pass.

Ultimately, our job is to take your logo and any additional art elements and incorporate them into a fantastic looking conference badge – that’s what we’re good at.

5) SPONSORSHIP!

It’s easy to get excited by the revenue opportunities associated with selling sponsor logos and other real estate on a conference badge, but be careful: a badge full of sponsor logos can quickly look cluttered.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s tremendous sponsor value in the back-of-badge real-estate, but I try to steer clients toward a robust logo layout on the backside while keeping the front as clean and uncluttered as possible.

Ideally, find a single sponsor to purchase the entire back of the badge, you guarantee greatly increased awareness for that sponsor (as opposed to being simply one of many). Such an arrangement makes for a better looking conference badge and gives the sponsor a chance to incorporate the badge itself as a marketing centerpiece for follow-on marketing campaigns, from which they can track the ROI of their sponsorship spend.

In the same vein, a giant conference logo isn’t great for the front, either. We’d hope everyone at the conference knows where he or she is (those returning from late-night networking sessions excluded); no reason to keep advertising.

6) THE “FLIPPING” SCHEDULE

Schedules are often incorporated on to the back of the conference badge, and a great help for conference attendees, but there are limits to the amount of data you can reasonably use. Many times clients have required so much information be placed into such a compact space that the conference badge would need to be accompanied by an electron microscope.

Keep the schedules to a bare minimum and you (and your designer) will be much happier with the results.

PRO TIP: If you are using lanyards or some other around-the-neck method to display your conference badges, try printing the schedule upside-down on the back so your attendees can read it easier. Just flip and read!

7) DESIGNER TECHNOLOGY

We’ve seen two schools of thought on how to incorporate emerging technologies like RFID and NFC tags into the tech-enabled badge.

One option is to sandwich the RFID or NFC tag between two layers of conference badge substrate. It hides the tag and creates the most minimal effect on your design.

Another option is to use a tag in which the electronics are visible and incorporate it into your badge design. This reinforces the fact that your badges are integrating with a live-event tech system and that there’s something special happening for the benefit of your attendees.

Either way, we’re doing some great stuff in the world of event management software and technology – so be sure to check that out too!

IN CONCLUSION

Less is more when it comes to conference badges, and they’re worth more to your sponsors if your attendees hold on to them after the event. If you make them clean, simple, and with huge names, your badges (and likely your conference) will be a success.