Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Seven Deadly Sins of Ineffective Name Tags

Scott Ginsberg, Guest Author

Your name tag is your best friend. It is a lifesaver in meetings, trade shows and events to start conversations when you meet groups of new people. It also identifies you as well as your company in the minds of others. As a result, you will become more approachable so you can connect and communicate with anybody. Unfortunately, name tags are useless and ineffective if they are designed and worn without careful consideration.

name-tagIf you avoid “The Seven Deadly Sins of Ineffective Name Tags,” you will maximize your approachability when you make your name tag more visible, accessible and efficient. You will also discover that when you invite people to “step onto your front porch,” they will cross the chasm between a stranger and a friend, or a prospect and a customer.

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 tag must be readable from ten feet away — both the font and the name tag itself.

According to a name tag survey done by David Alder of Biz Bash, 50% of a group of meeting planners claimed that “illegible font size of name tags 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 tags 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 tags 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 tags 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 tag.

Write the font in black or dark blue. Never use yellow, orange or any other light color. Even if a dark color choice means an aesthetic digression, fashion must be outweighed by your name tag’s approachability and visibility! Finally, unless you work in an academic capacity, avoid gold name tags.

Turnaround ~ A frustrating name tag problem that people face is “the name tag turnaround.” No name. No logo. No company. Just the blank back of the badge! While lanyard or necklace style name tags reduce clothing damage, no doubt these will get accidentally turned around and tangled at some point!

Therefore it is vital to always write the exact same information on both sides. And, if someone who doesn’t know your name sees your reversed name tag, they might shrug their shoulders, turn away and find another person to talk to! (NOTE: If you write the information on both sides also eliminates the possibility that some of us will purposely turn our name tags around. “Lead us not into temptation…”)

Name TagPlacement ~ The horizontal placement of your name tag is a function of the context in which you wear it. For example, on the right, name tags will be easily visible in the line of sight that correlates to your handshake. Most businesses handbooks will instruct you to wear name tag in this manner. And, it is a good visual aid for people who have 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 tag on your left side. This allows people who approach in your opposite direction to see your name tag with significant ease, since we traditionally walk on the right side of the road/aisle/hallway.

Presence ~ Although horizontal placement of your name tag is an important consideration, vertical placement is the most important visibility characteristic. A name tag 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 tag will make you unavailable to people outside of your conversation, thus limits your ability to meet more valuable people.

So, your name tag 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 tag eliminates the possibility that it will be covered by something. For example, if your name tag 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.

Maximization ~ Have you ever seen a five inch name tag with tiny letters the size of sunflower seeds? What a waste! Use any and all blank space provided by your name tag. 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 tag itself. Imagine your name tag 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 tag is your best friend. In other words, think of your name tag 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 tags that are visible, accessible, and efficient so you will maximize your approachability.

“Your name tag is your best friend for several reasons. First of all, a person’s name is the single piece of personal information most often forgotten–and people are less likely to approach you if they don’t know (or have forgotten) your name. Second, it’s free advertising for you and your company. Third, name tags encourage people to be friendly and more approachable.” ~ Ivan Misner

BONUS Articles: Name Tag Tip

Larry’s NOTE:  Need a “last-minute” name tag for you networking meeting?  Fill out a FREE Designers template for a temporary name tag or badge insert at:


Copyright © 2014 – Scott Ginsberg. Scott Ginsberg is a professional speaker, “the world’s foremost field expert on name tags” and the author of “HELLO my name is Scott” and “The Power of Approachability.” He speaks to companies and associations who want to become UNFORGETTABLE communicators – one conversation at a time. He’s “That Guy with the Name Tag.” Visit his BLOG or


netHQLarry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

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  1. Nice to see your attention for elementary tools that are too often neglected. I still see a lot of people not making the most of their personal presence. They probably think ‘personal branding’ is just a virtual thing. They should start by making a proper name tag at

    Comment by Anton Theunissen — Tuesday, February 17, 2015 @ 5:47 am | Reply

  2. Great article Scott! It’s something people don’t really pay attention to, but it’s the finer details that can make something a success. I’ve been at conferences for work and they didn’t have name tags, man that was a confusing day hahaha

    Comment by Ben — Sunday, September 7, 2014 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

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