10 Tips for Creating an Effective ID Badge Design

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A custom ID badge can do much more than just provide identification. It’s also a way to support company branding and heighten the appearance of professionalism within your organization. With the right ID badge design, you create a way for employees to remember each other’s names more easily, which can improve employee connection and increase engagement — and that, in turn, plays a key role in productivity.

Of course, security is usually the primary reason that companies want to use ID badges, and badges should always be designed with that in mind. A great company ID badge will let others know immediately if the person belongs in a specific area, and it can help managers improve employee accountability by documenting such things as when they’re arriving and leaving.

In the past, a white badge with minimal information was considered perfectly acceptable, but the availability of new options and features mean that employers and employees both expect more than a generic white card. Creating a custom ID badge design that’s aesthetically pleasing is important for company image as well as for being an effective identification tool.

Custom ID Badge Design Basics

When you approach your custom ID badges with a fresh eye, you’ll probably see a few things that you want to change. But what makes for a great ID badge design, and what do you need to avoid? Follow these 10 rules of custom badge design and you’ll have a company ID badge that every employee will be proud to wear.

No. 1: Remember that size matters. Before you begin working on design, identify how employees will wear or use the card. Is it going to be on a lanyard? On a retractable reel? Make sure that the size fits the usage. The standard card size, CR80, is 3.379 inches by 2.125 inches and is what you’ll use in most cases. However, if you are creating custom ID badges for a conference or seminar, you may want a larger size, or if you are creating something like key cards, you might want to go smaller. Determine this up front because you want your custom ID badge design to be both legible and appealing.

No. 2: Select the right materials. Since they’re going to be used by employees daily, your ID badge needs to be durable, so look at materials like a PVC or PET card. In addition to starting out with sturdy materials, you might want to consider laminating the badges as well, since that will keep the card looking brighter and newer for a longer period of time, which gives the badge a more professional appearance. (It also makes the card tamper-proof.)

No. 3: Choose your orientation. Is the card going to be designed horizontally or vertically? (Remember that a horizontally designed card will make it easier to accommodate long names and titles.) The way the card is displayed will determine where or if a slot is placed for a badge clip or lanyard, and that affects the design process. Work with your designer to make sure the elements you need to include will work well with the orientation you select.

No. 4: Bring in your company colors. There’s no need to stick to basic black-and-white when it’s just as easy to bring some colors to your custom ID badge design. However, be careful not to use so much color that it overpowers the font and also make sure that any colors you use are in compliance with company branding standards.

No. 5: Pick the right font. While there are many “cool” fonts out there, what you most want for your ID badge design is clarity and readability. Opt for a clean, simple, sans serif font that doesn’t have to be too large to be easily read at a distance. Also, make sure that the font you choose can be easily read even with longer names that need to fit on the badge.

No. 6: Include the important information. What information is most relevant and essential to your company ID badges? In addition to names, you want it to have the employee’s title and, depending on the organization, you may also wish to designate what group or department (or building) they work in. Make a list of what you’ll need to make sure that nothing is left out.

No. 7: Choose your design elements. What other essentials will be included in your custom ID badge design? Your company logo, company colors, employee photos and required identification information should all be considered as you begin to design your custom ID badge. Pull all your elements together before you start the design work to make sure you don’t forget anything.

No. 8: Consider the photo. What kind of background will the photos on the ID badge have? If there’s any kind of pattern in the photo background, make sure it doesn’t compete or clash with the overall card design. And, if you haven’t updated employee photos in a while, this is the perfect time to have all photos retaken with a consistent background that complements the custom design of the ID badge.

No. 9: Don’t overdo it. It’s easy to get excited about your custom ID badge design and all the options available to you, but try not to go crazy with it. Too many colors or competing designs create a “busy” ID badge that can detract from what it’s intended to do — easily identify employees. If you get vertigo just from looking at the badge, that’s a good sign that you need to dial it back. One way to keep your badges more readable is to limit the number of fonts you use in your design; instead of using different fonts, pick a single font and alternate between bold, italic and regular variations.

No. 10: Implement security elements. What kind of security features does your custom ID badge need? These can include bar codes, QR codes or hologram shields. Bar codes and QR codes can be placed on the back, while holograms can be done as an overlay on the face of the card. Before you start designing, define which features are most important to you and plan your design accordingly.

Great ID Badge Design Is Just the Beginning

Now that you have the custom ID badge design for your company, you’ll also want to select the badge holder or lanyard that you had in mind when you began your design process. Whether you choose a retractable ID reel, custom or stock lanyard or clip-on badge holder, get the accessories you need to complete the look of your new custom company ID badges.