Opinions on name tags

Some of my friends are putting on a conference and asked my to do the branding for it, but I’ve taken control of most of the “style” of the conference. Meaning that I’m making sure the hotel, restaurants, transportation, etc are of a certain quality and style in addition to putting together the promotional materials, website, etc.

At this point, I’m trying to determine a way of differentiating committee members, volunteers, sponsors and attendees. The chairs of the conference had pretty much assumed we were using name tags for this purpose, but I personally have found them awkward since you have to introduce the other aspects of yourself to have a discussion. From all the professional interactions I’ve had it’s flowed much better when the first thing I do is say “Hi, I’m Mike” and then continue from there. The only time it’s helped me was at interdisciplinary conferences when the nametags also had whether you were a designer, developer, business person, volunteer, etc. but I think I can find a more elegant solution for communicating that.

What I was thinking was getting volunteers embroidered polos, letting attendees and sponsors wear what they like (its a student conference so it’ll be easy to tell them apart) and putting together an uniform of sorts for committee members with something like a distinctive tie colour and pattern (mirroring the rest of the branding).

Do you guys have any opinions on name tags? I know I’ve talked to people who really like them (so much so that they passed them out at a board meeting of 8 people) and those who really don’t.

I personally detest name tags or badges or anything similar. Even when I’m required to wear them, I don’t. At the Outdoor Retailer trade show, I kept mine off. Security asked me to put it on every time I walked by one of them. I understand that they keep track of who paid vs who snuck in this way, but I still just kept it in my bag. Something I don’t like about it personally. I know others almost enjoy wearing them, so I’ve heard.

If there were an embroidered polo waiting for me, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole.

Apologies for sounding negative, just sharing my honest opinion. Best of luck.

Maybe you can create some type of interactive process in which the people there would meet each other? Could also be tacky. Frog design had a killer SXSW party, where you were encouraged to meet people via a physical in-person + digital meeting at the same time. Too lengthy to explain, but it was a lot of fun. And you were awarded “points” for going to the bar, which is a plus.

I think that is a pretty good idea for volunteers… you want the people there to be easy to identify. Though buying people clothing can be tricky… I probably would never wear a polo someone got for me.

I also detest name tags, but at a conference after a few drinks, it is nice to be able to read the name tag of the person across from you even after they have introduced themselves…

Thanks guys!

I think you’re right about the polos, I’ll scrap that idea. It stemmed from trying to fancy up the standard volunteer t-shirt but I don’t want to make them seem like “the help” or force a style on them when they’ll be meeting potential employers. No need to apologize Taylor, thanks for stopping me!

Maybe an accessory of some kind would be better? What would you be willing wear if someone provided it to you? I think ties for the volunteers might be a bit expensive too, as the chairs are already baulking at putting ties for the committee in a public budget. We would need something else for the girls as well. I want it to feel natural, so if someone saw them walking down the street they wouldn’t think anything of it, but noticeable in a conference setting.

I think name tags are out though, I’ll have to work on another way to help with the name issue, or determine how much of an issue it will be. There will be about 100 students attending, and as many companies as we can get. Engineers are a strange animal when it comes to this as well, they’re either extremely dynamic or extremely reserved, sometimes both if you hit the right switch so I have to plan for everything.

The issue of event admission was also brought up. In the past its been solved by either the name tags or bracelets. I would prefer the bracelets over the name tags if necessary, they can be hidden under a sleeve, but how likely is it that someone would try to sneak into one of the lunches or dinners of a small student conference? Maybe we can hand out identification cards that they can keep in their wallet in case we need to check? It would be a pain, but we would have to check everyone’s name tag or bracelet if we went with that.

The interactive process is interesting, but I’m not sure how well it would go over with this crowd. I’m envisioning some not participating at all, and some fulfilling their basic meeting requirements and moving on. Do you know if the infrastructure was difficult to set up? Was there a prize?

I traveled to an opening of a design show years ago. The biggest failure of the organization was having all of the designers there and no way for anyone to know who was who. Name tags would have helped, Polaroids on the wall would have helped. In the end the was a lot of work that I would have liked to know more about, but it was not possible due to the anonymity.

I would let the attendees choose what they want on their tags and let them decide whether or not to wear them or stick them in their pocket except when coming through the door.

QR code tattoos for everyone that link to your website.

Just had a thought, yours to edit, keep, or trash as you wish.

Is there a bar? A packet pickup? Or a place for snacks? Some thing that will draw people to? A cookie tray? Something. Call them interaction points. Multiple would be better.

In order to receive X item/to gain entrance to the event/to gain entrance to X thing, two strangers must walk up to the person, and introduce the person they’re with, therefore, they have just met each other.

Just an idea, back to work.