How to wear a name badge

Sheridan's Badges and Engraving - Badges for Schools

What’s the right way to wear a name badge? It may surprise you to find that this is a question; but there is correct etiquette involved when wearing a name badge! This is a common question we’ve come across; for other answers to pertinent questions you may be curious about, check out our previous blogs on why name badges are great for hospitality businesses, as well as who uses name badges and why

Before moving onto the etiquette of name badges, it’s important to lightly touch on that “who” and “why”. Name badges are commonly used by businesses or organisation that interacts with the public; for example, imagine the difference in comfort, rapport and trust when you know the name of the doctor or nurse who’s treating you, the waitperson who’s serving you, etc. 

But name badges don’t just matter to external stakeholders – they matter to your people, too. A name badge offers a sense of pride, loyalty, permanency and being valued and invested in. Name badges signal that you’re devoted to your staff, and they’re devoted to your business. Of course, name badges aren’t just for businesses – membership organisations like sports clubs are common clients for the sense of belonging and camaraderie that name badges offer, and they’re all that and a fantastic branding device for schools. (And if you ever got to wear a school name badge as a child, you’ll remember how important you felt!)

So, now that we’ve talked a bit about the importance of name badges and the roles they play, let’s talk about how to wear them right!

Right, in plain sight

Ideally, you should wear your name tag on the right side of your upper body. The reason for this is that handshake etiquette says you should shake hands with your right hand; since most of us are right-handed, it tends to be the case that either you’ll be reaching for someone’s right hand, or they’ll be reaching for yours. When you do reach for someone’s right hand, you’re aiming your body towards their right side, and it’s easier to look where you’re aiming.

On the other hand, if their name tag is on the left, you’ll have to look to their left to visually scan the name tag; this can be a bit uncomfortable, especially if you’ve met them before. If you have trouble remembering names, this can be awkward! So for the sake of the person whose hand you’re shaking, it’s best to make it a bit easier for them to scan your name tag, rather than having them avoid that awkward moment. That way, they can easily find out who you are and have great conversations with you – perfect for those networking events!

So, where should your name badge be placed on the upper body? The conventional wisdom on this is the upper lapel area, so that it’s in plain sight and near the eyeline of the person you’re greeting. So when you’re attaching your name badge, just remember the mantra: right, in plain sight!

Other than that, visibility is key – you want to wear your name badge loud and proud. Make sure it’s as straight as possible. You also want to take great care not to place your name badge upside down – yes, this has been known to happen, especially when you’re attaching your name badge for work before your morning coffee, but it’s a quick way to get a reputation as the office clown.

Alternatives to wearing name badges

As we’ve discussed, wearing a name badge is a mark of pride and professionalism; it’s designed to reassure the person you’re interacting with, but also to make you feel part of something. Those “Hello, My Name is” stickers you’ve likely seen at networking events are a sticker, not a badge; sure, they tell the other person your name, but they don’t convey an image. Of course, the business-minded among us can see an upside to that: a chance to create a competitive edge. If you’re at an event and so is a competitor in your field, and you have an attractive name badge clearly identifying who you are and the industry you’re in, there’s a good chance that you’ll be the one to generate that high-quality lead!

What about lanyards, you may ask? Well, as we’ve seen earlier, name badge placement is important – right, in plain sight. For the same reasons why that placement is important – so people can easily see who you are and what you do – lanyards fall flat. To be exact, flat in the middle of your body, in a location that’s difficult and awkward to glance at. Lanyards are a  convenient way to store an ID card that you need for security purposes, but their value in identifying you to others you interact with is very limited. 

Does this mean lanyards are redundant? No; if anything, they’re a very helpful way of storing ID, swipe cards for the office elevator, etc. Giving your people lanyards will almost certainly pay significant dividends in terms of swipe card loss alone. But they’re not a viable alternative to name badges; they have an important but basically wholly separate function in their own right.

Which kind of name badges are the best?

To decide what kind of name badge is the best, let’s go back to why name badges are important: pride and professionalism. With that in mind, the best name badge is one that someone is proud to wear, and that conveys professionalism and reassurance to the viewer. While some more traditional companies will only consider metal badges, a well-made plastic name badge is also a thing of beauty! If you’re having trouble making the decision, keep an active look out for the name badges you come across in the next week or two: you’ll see both used beautifully. However, some organisations may gravitate towards one or the other – for example, a tech startup with a modern feel to the office may find plastic more appealing, whereas a 150-year old financial institution may value the sense of gravity that comes with a fine metal badge. And for a membership organisation or a school, metal may be appealing because when you give your club member or student a badge, it means so much more than just identification. Particularly for students, that  badge can become a cherished memory of a lifetime, and a well-made and carefully stored metal badge can last a lifetime. If you reckon that the badge is going “straight to the poolroom”, as dad Darryl in the Aussie classic The Castle so iconically put it, then by all means build it to last – because it’s not just a name badge, it’s a treasure, so you’ll want it built to handle a decade or more of wearing while still being in good nick.

A common question that business decision makers ponder before buying name tags for staff is whether the badge should be magnetic or not: after all, uniforms with holes in them can be a concern. Fortunately, a well-made name badge with a pin of an ordinary size will only produce the most tiny holes, which will not be visible in most fabrics; furthermore, if your people are all wearing their name badge on the same side, in the same place, you don’t really have to worry about any visible holes on their uniform. Magnetic badges also require a bit more fuss to place properly, and it’s easy for the magnetic backing to get lost and need to be replaced. There’s also potential for embarrassment if the backing gets moved and the badge falls off – so for many business decision makers, they’re not exactly a “magnetic” choice.

We hope we’ve answered all of your questions about how to wear a name badge! If you’d like more insight from the Sheridan’s Badges and Engraving team, keep an eye out on our blog; and if you’d like to learn more about the name badges we produce and our process, explore our range of name badges.