Most conferences use some form of name badge and lanyard. Name badges are supposed to encourage socializing. The problem is they don’t do their jobs very well.

Should they include first name and last name or just the first name? Should they include the company name? What about room for a Twitter handle? And wouldn’t it be nice if the sponsors could get their logo’s on it too? There’s so many things that could go on the name badge and they all have their proponents and detractors.


Wherever you position a name badge, it’s going to lead to staring as people try to read from it. A short lanyard on a tall person could lead to people staring at your chest. A long lanyard on a short person could lead to people staring below your waist. Having strangers stare at your body while you’re having a conversation doesn’t sound like it’s going to encourage socialization.

Doing Things Differently
Since we’re not shy about doing things differently for SupConf, we stepped back and thought about how we could address encouraging socialization without name badges at SupConf.

One thing that’s different about SupConf is it started from the Support Driven community. A fair number of folks have already known each other for months and sometimes years from our Slack. We’ll also set up a room in our Slack in a few weeks for attendees so everyone will have time to get know each other before the event.

Instead of throwing everyone into a room and expecting them to make the most of it like most conferences,  we’re designing engagement and conversation into conference activities. We’ve got our Birds of a Feather dinner as well as setting aside time for breakout sessions with speakers and more.

Rather than trying to design a better name badge, what if we didn’t have name badges at all? What if we encouraged people to ask for names? Chances are they would be more likely to recall names later on as repetition is key to remembering. This is something we’re going to try and we’ll remind everyone that it’s okay to ask for names at SupConf. Seriously. If someone asks for your name, it’s because they think your name is worth remembering.

So we’ve got a plan to not use name badges at all. We think it’s going to work because SupConf is relatively small, a lot of folks already know each other, and we’ve got an amazing community.

Now that we’ve got a plan that doesn’t involve name badges, we wanted to address one more thing that people do with name badges. Sometimes folks hang on to them as a keepsake from the conference. It’s not something I’ve done but I totally get why people do it.

We set out to create a keepsake for SupConf. We wanted to create something unique to the event that celebrates it being hosted in San Francisco. Something that people were likely to want to hang on to. Something… collectible.

We kicked around a couple of ideas and we’ve decided to create a custom collectible pin for SupConf.

Here’s the design that we sent to the pin company.

Having never created a pin before, I had no idea if the design would work as a pin. Here’s the design they sent back.

We’re extremely happy with how the pin design has turned out and we’ve put in an order for them. I’m looking forward to getting them in a few weeks and sharing them with everyone at SupConf!

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