Outsourcing the production of your ID badges to a reputable company is one way to make sure that you get a finished product with the quality you need, whether it’s for a one-time event or for ongoing purposes, such as a school ID. While printing on-site has its own advantages, being able to outsource your custom ID badge design and production is a great way to take one more thing off your to-do list … and to know that it’s in good hands.
If you’ve never worked with an outside vendor on your badge design and production, you probably wonder what to expect. Here’s an easy, step-by-step guide to what questions you’ll want to ask, what you’ll need to provide to your vendor and how to avoid some of the common mistakes.
Choose Your Vendor
To find the right vendor, first determine what specific services you need. Are you looking for someone to design your badge from scratch, or are you looking for someone who can do the final production? If you have existing graphics, but just need to have them merged with text files, you probably don’t need a full-fledged design service.
For example, at ID Shop, we’re experts in badge production and do not have design facilities, but can provide simple design services such as merging files or tweaking the existing files to meet certain shape or size requirements of the badge. Before selecting your vendor, make sure you know exactly what you need them to do and confirm that they’re able to do it.
Ask Who Does the Work
Is the production being done in-house, or does the vendor outsource it to other companies? Keep in mind that every time it has to be sent out of the shop, there’s a risk of delays. Look for a company that does the work in-house — and backs it up with a customer satisfaction guarantee. You want a team of professionals that is familiar with the process and has handled jobs similar to yours; read the vendor’s customer testimonials to make sure they’re going to be the right fit for you.
Find Out What Format is Needed
As you talk to your vendor, find out what type of files they can accept. In most cases, they will ask for native files, which means the original artwork. This is important for getting the kind of high-quality reproduction you want on your ID badge design and making sure it’s not blurred or pixelated.
Your vendor will ask you submit your artwork in a certain format, such as Adobe, Vector or InDesign. If you’re not sure exactly what it is they need, just ask! Most likely, they will ask for an image that’s at least 300 dpi actual size, which is standard for print jobs. If you’re dealing mostly with digital files, keep in mind that they may be smaller than 300 dpi, which can affect the appearance of the final product. If you’re not sure if your images are the right size, you can always send them to your vendor to double-check.
Plan Your Timeline
Chances are, you have a specific date in mind as to when you need your ID badges in hand. Make sure that the vendor you use can give you a timetable as to when your product will be available, then give yourself a couple of extra days to play with. The right vendor will be able to give you specific turnaround times.
For example, at ID Shop, our timeline is to provide a digital proof within 24 hours, then have the finished product in the customer’s hands in seven to 10 days after receiving approval of the proof. So we normally recommend that customers give themselves two weeks to get the job completed with plenty of time left.
Check Your Pricing
You want to make sure that there aren’t any financial surprises at the end of the process; get a quote on your project and find out if there are any additional fees that might be charged. Like many other badge producers, ID Shop does the first round of changes to a badge design for free but will charge a fee if design revisions are requested after those initial changes have been made. Or, if it’s a rush order and has to be done quickly, it can be prioritized and done in as little as a day, but a fee will be charged for that faster turnaround.
5 Ways to Make Your Badge Production Run Smoothly
Once you’ve selected your vendor and are ready to get things rolling, there are a few ways to ensure a smoother process. Here are five things to keep in mind (and to keep your project on track).
- Limit the number of design changes. Each time you add a new graphical change to the badge, you’re actually creating a different design. For example, let’s say that you’re creating ID badges for a school, but some need to display a red rectangle that reads “Student” while others have an orange oval with the text “Administrative” or “Faculty.” Even though it seems like just one word, it requires its own design, so work with your vendor ahead of time to determine the best way to approach these graphical variances.
- Let the database make the changes. Similarly, if you are color-coding badges for different classifications (“Exhibitor,” “Attendee,” “Presenter,” etc.), you don’t need to send design files with different colors. It’s easier for the badge production team to implement those changes in their database, so you just need to indicate which colors you want for each group.
- Keep variable elements in the same place. Even if you’re creating different badges for different types of participants, the placement of the information should be uniform on all cards. That means you want to place such elements as the name, title and so on in a consistent spot on the badges. Such uniformity makes it easier for participants to know where to look on the badge.
- Make sure you provide all the art/design elements required — and that they’re in the right size/format. The wrong resolution or format can slow down the production process or result in a low-quality appearance.
- Provide any unique fonts that your badge requires. If you have a custom or unusual font, make sure you provide that to your vendor. Without the proper font, they may not be able to create the exact look you need for your ID badge.
Working with a professional badge production company ensures a great look for your badges. At ID Shop, we maintain the highest-standard for custom orders and workmanship of ID cards, badge holders, badge reels, lanyards and more. With our electronic proofing process, we ensure accuracy in your design and data process. You are informed of each step along the way. Click below to learn more about the variety of custom printed ID products we offer.