8 Observations on the Evolution of the Conference Badge

Reactions to the giant Reimagine Education badge.

December 10, 2015

This week I attended the excellent Reimagine Education Conference.

Like other conferences, each attendee to this gathering received a conference badge. 

The Reimagine Education badge had the usual info: name, affiliation, and role at the conference. The badge was attached to a lanyard to wear around your neck.

What was unusual about the badge was its size. The badge was about the exact size of an iPad mini. This was the largest conference badge that I’ve ever worn.

The size of the Reimagine Education badge made me feel as if I was part of some important club. 

That with a badge like that I could go back stage and hang out with the band. 

Or maybe skip the velvet rope line, and be ushered into the VIP section. 

This was a badge that brought to mind White House access.

Or better yet, admission to a live TED Talk. (And the real Chris Anderson TED Talk - not the TEDx event that we stage on campus).

There is nothing better for one’s self-esteem than wearing a giant conference badge.

The giant Reimagine Education badge has caused me to ponder the evolution of the conference badge.

8 trends in conference badges:

1 - Badges As Pockets: Some badges double as places to hold all sorts of useful things. Drink tickets for the big conference reception can be stuffed in the badge pocket. Or a mini printed program.

2 - Badges As Expressions Of Group Identity: Sometimes conference badges get adorned with all sorts of fair. Stickers can be affixed that express participation in a particular interest group - "web czar", "marketing maven”, or conference role - “planning committee." Sometimes the tags are quirky or aspirational - “runs with scissors”.

3 - Badges As Advertising: If you pay enough to sponsor a conference you get to put your company’s name all over the conference badge. If the badge is big enough you can put your URL as well.

4 - Badges As QR Codes: Actually, this is a terrible idea - as everyone hates QR codes.

5 - Magnetic Badges: Sometimes conference badges come attached to a big magnet. The idea is that instead of wearing the badge around your neck, or ruining your shirt with a pin, you can attach the badge to your clothing with the magnet.  These magnetic badges never work very well for me, as I always lose the backside of the magnet.

6 - Badges With Big Names:  The best badges are the one’s that have no information on them besides the conference goers name in HUGE LETTERS. Ideally, the name is on both sides of the badge - as they always get turned around while wearing. As the average age of the academic conference goer increases we will need to have badges with bigger lettering.

7 - Badges With Made Up Job Titles: The people who I like to hang out with at conferences are those that make up their job titles. They put the job title that they want, not what the one that they are stuck with.

8 - Badges That Digitally Exchange Information: Actually, this does not exist. Or at least I have never had a digital information sharing conference badge. We still hand our paper business cards. Why aren’t our badges part of this Internet of Things that we keep hearing will change the world?  Shouldn’t educational technology conference badges have some technology built in?

How have you seen the conference badge evolve?

Are you one of those people who saves all your old conference badges, hanging them up in your workspace like trophies?

What sort of conference badge would you create if you were in charge of creating conference badges?



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