Trade Show and Conference Badge Ribbons

Last updated: October 9, 2023

Trade shows and conferences are expensive for small business owners.

I’m always on the lookout for great low-cost marketing hacks to generate attention.

I saw GEICO using these custom badge ribbons at a recent conference and was impressed.

This is a low-cost, innovative, and admittedly gimmicky thing you can do as a trade show exhibitor to attract attention for your brand and visitors to your trade show booth.

Want more small business growth advice? Check out these small trade show booth ideas!

Trade Show Name Badges

Like a name tag, a name badge or lanyard helps to identify someone’s name and the company that they work for.

Name badges like this are distributed at almost every trade show and conference:

Trade show conference badge with my name on it
Sample conference badge from a visit to the Google NYC HQ.

Badge Ribbons

Some show name badges often have attached ribbons that proclaim someone’s status. Sample ones that I have seen can say:

  • Press
  • Exhibitor
  • Buyer
  • First-time Attendee, etc

Here’s a photo of a sample Press badge ribbon that would be given away at a trade show:

An example of a trade show ribbon. As an amateur blogger, I always ask for Press, and usually always get denied. GOALS.

The marketing hack

Step 1: Make custom ribbons, or order pre-printed humorous ones. I’ll show you where to easily and cheaply buy these below.

Step 2: Hand the custom ribbons out at your booth.

Step 3: Profit. Or, at least enjoy the increased foot traffic as people visit asking for your funny swag.

An attendee’s badge I snapped a photo of, just starting his ribbon sash!

I saw this at a museum conference recently that my company Museum Hack exhibited at and was very impressed.

Other attendees were asking people with the funny slogans where they got the badge from. The GEICO booth was handing them out. It definitely increased foot traffic to their trade show booth.

Funny Trade Show Badge Ribbon Phrases

Some humorous examples of badge ribbons that I’ve seen are:

  • Conference Virgin
  • I know What You Did Last Conference
  • Plays Well with Others
  • I’m Making a Sash
  • Best Dressed
  • My Ribbon is Better than Yours
  • Tired Feet
  • Where’s the breakfast?
  • Most Likely to Nap
  • Here for the Freebies

Example: GEICO at AAM 2017

I attended the American Alliance of Museums annual exhibit and trade show in St. Louis in May 2017 with my company Museum Hack. We had a small trade show booth to meet our customers.

GEICO had a booth there, which was interesting because it has nothing to do with the conference topic.

Their booth was WAY out of the way: back corner location with few if any surrounding booths.

But they attracted visitors using these custom funny ribbons.

The GEICO rep told me all about how she uses these ribbons for word-of-mouth marketing at trade shows.

The person running the booth, who wishes to not be named, was giving away her own custom trade show badge ribbons.

Here’s what they looked like:

custom badges available at the GEICO booth at the AAM 2017 conference
Some of the custom badges available at the GEICO booth at the AAM 2017 conference.
More of the custom ribbons.
These three were cool.

The representative said that these types of badges were very successful for her as a marketing tool.

She told me that she buys them on the pc/nametag site.

Not a sponsored link! Legit vendor she uses. If you know of other custom trade show badge ribbon vendors, email me and I will add to this list.

Potential R.O.I.

If the person wearing your custom name badge walks by 200 people, and if 5% ask where they got the ribbon, you could easily attract 10 visitors to your booth for $.25 each!

OK, that’s a crazy estimate… but you get the idea.

This is a low-cost way to bring some smiles and word-of-mouth foot traffic to your trade show booth.

More examples

My friend Amanda Ferri said:

These have been all the rage at cons (ComicCon, Blizzcon, etc). Kids lose it over trying to create the longest trail of ribbons and even come with their own to trade with people they meet. I made rainbow Tumblr because they looked great and were a nod to our queer fandoms. Here is a good example from a Harry Potter con I went to.

An example of custom badges from Harry Potter Con.

Conclusion and More Information

I think this is an effective marketing “hack” for small businesses who are doing trade show marketing.

What you should do next...

1.Subscribe to my free Friends Newsletter.

You'll get exclusive life hacks, business research, top tech gadgets, and see new productivity tips. See why 18,000 people say it is one of their favorite emails.

2. Get your 2-page Party Checklist from my book, The 2-Hour Cocktail Party

With over 19 things you can do right now to improve your next party. Plus an Executive Summary of the key lessons inside my book.

3. Read this list of my 21 favorite home gear items.

See my favorite electronics, kitchen toys, and even bathroom toiletries in one of my most popular blog posts ever.