Editor's Picks: Hang In There

Belle Hung and Chinch / Shutterstock.com.
Photo Illustration by SPARK Publications. 


Simple and efficient, lanyards keep important items close throughout day-to-day activities. In the early 1500s, lanyards were invented as a way to carry weapons and keep them accessible. Lanyards were especially useful for men engaged in combat, or for those climbing the rigging of ships to do so without dropping their weapons. Today, lanyards are a must-have for conventions, workplaces, corporate events and even festivals and concerts. 

The earliest lanyards were made of rope or cords. Over the years, the function and versatility of lanyards has expanded for civilian and military use. With lanyards hanging around their necks, it was harder for soldiers in WWII to lose a sword, pistol, tool or knife. Even now, decorated military veterans often don intricate, colorfully braided lanyards to denote specific rank, awards or achievements. Lanyards are meant to last and have earned a reputation for reliable use. From polyester to nylon, today’s lanyards are made for comfortable, all-day wear, safely carrying anything from keys and ID badges to electronics, sunglasses and face masks. 

At nearly every workplace and school, you’ll find someone wearing a lanyard. In the corporate and professional world, lanyards help maintain security by visibly displaying a person’s credentials, and some may include a barcode to grant wearers access to a certain office, building or shared space. To promote school spirit and address security concerns, schools can distribute a lanyard imprinted with the school mascot to all students, faculty and staff, coupled with an ID pouch displaying the wearers’ information. In schools, badges with barcodes allow teachers to gain access to buildings and conference rooms, and students can use badges with barcodes to pay for lunch, check-out books and keep track of attendance. Badges and lanyards also help school staff learn students’ names faster, and children who have trouble keeping track of their lunch money or house keys could also benefit from a lanyard with a vinyl pouch to secure their belongings.

For trade shows and conventions, lanyards and badges serve two purposes: security and networking. When wearing a badge and a lanyard with your name and your company’s name on it, people who are interested in you and your services can easily find and address you. Chargeable lanyards are next-level event gifts for attendees who may need to recharge their phone after taking pictures of products and making notes of potential business partners. In many hospitals and medical facilities, workers can’t enter without scanning the barcode on their badge. But while a lanyard dangling from a doctor or nurse’s neck would get in the way of attending to patients, a retractable badge reel is the perfect onboarding gift for staff, complete with an imprinted logo. 

Lanyards are affordable and highly customizable. For the highest-quality image and the greatest legibility and durability, turn to nylon lanyards. Choose from hooks, bulldog clips and badge reels, the most popular designs, or key rings, buckles and breakaway clasps to hold a badge or key fob. Lanyards also serve as an avenue for self-expression. As the latest fashion trends lean toward function and utilitarianism, lanyards have started appearing in the styles showcased during major fashion weeks. In fall 2016, lanyards were incorporated in the collections of high-style brands like Louis Vuitton. Versace created a Graeco-waves printed lanyard on a cord and Armani designed a black leather lanyard. From Milan to Paris and then New York, Michael Kors draped black leather lanyards on his male models, explaining that they were for men who couldn’t keep track of their phones. While lanyards continue to play a bigger part in street fashion and everyday use, they also bring awareness to important issues. Pink lanyards imprinted with allover hot-pink cancer ribbons can be sold to raise funds for breast cancer research, while camouflage lanyards imprinted with “Support Our Troops” can help raise funds and show support for the U.S. military. 

Convenient and versatile, end users will never know they need a lanyard until they’ve lost their work badge, can’t find their keys or drop their phone—again. Think ahead for your clients with a product that’s been around since the 16th century and has yet to lose its value. The lanyard has many benefits—but its greatest is its staying power. 


For more than a 200 years, badges have been used to celebrate achievements, commemorate occasions, provide identity and show support for favorite causes. From birthday buttons to sheriff badges, these handy and highly visible items have been used to communicate messages at a glance. The first promotional item in the U.S. was reportedly a commemorative button made to celebrate the election of George Washington in 1789. In 1896, supplier Whitehead & Hoag acquired the first patent for a button fastened to a metal pin, or “badge pin.” Today’s button designs are printed on paper, laminated and then placed over a piece of steel and covered with a back that has a safety pin, clothing magnet, bulldog clip or refrigerator magnet attached. Lightweight and cost-effective when ordered in bulk, buttons are integrated throughout society, and are found in places of both authority and leisure.

For badges, buttons and the ornamental lapel pin, imagination and creativity can roam freely, adding to the uniqueness of this product. Companies and organizations like Disney and Major League Baseball have capitalized on the niche market of collectors who buy and trade exclusive pins.

Since 1908, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have used button badges, badge pins and fabric patches to recognize members of the community as well as express skills, interests and proficiencies. There are 135 merit badges for Boy Scouts of America to collect, a passion shared by popular cartoon character and Boy Scout Russell in Disney and Pixar’s 2009 film, Up. By wearing a badge or a button, we tell the world who we are, what we believe and the groups we belong to.

With new flashing and light-up capabilities, buttons and badges are meant to stand out. Buttons continue to have an important role in politics, with candidates and their teams handing out buttons on the campaign trail, and in the health-care industry. At Minnesota-based supplier Express-A-Button, the most popular button, currently, are the ones that promote social distancing or bring awareness to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it asks you to keep a safe, six-foot distance, or lets you know there is a smile under the mask being worn, buttons have found renewed value during this time.

“I feel that buttons are still relevant because what better way to tell someone your message than by wearing an inexpensive, miniature billboard around throughout your day,” says Brian Bergler, Express-A-Button general manager. “Even if you are working from home and doing Zoom meetings, people will still see the button on your shirt.”


This waterproof smart phone case will protect phones from all the spills and falls. Featuring a heavy-duty waterproof closure that can be worn up to a depth of 32 feet, end users won’t have to sit their phones in rice to dry them out anytime soon. The waterproof pouch also allows for touch screen use while in the case. Included with a built-in waterproof audio jack and clip-on lanyard, recipients can wear it around their neck or attach it to their arm with the elastic strap with a hook-and-loop closure.

Ariel Premium Supply, Inc. / PPAI 161650, S10 / www.arielpremium.com


Recipients of the Lanyard Lightning will never have to worry about their phone suddenly dying without a charger. The two-in-one charging cable and lanyard has a flexible, flat USB to a micro USB cable. Simply plug the cable into a powered USB port and then into a device or smartphone. This product has an Apple MFi-certified lightning adapter twin tip with silicone sleeve tether. Prop 65-compliant, Apple and Lightning are trademarks of Apple, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S13 / www.hitpromo.net


Recognize and thank hardworking employees with this alloy soft enamel medallion. On a dye sublimation lanyard, employees can know they are appreciated with this keepsake. These medallions are also perfect for local sports teams and schools. The “gold” is brass plating, the “silver” is nickel plating and the “bronze” is copper plating. There is a deluxe J-hook at the end of this 13-inch lanyard.

Sonoma Promotional Solutions / PPAI 204856, S7 / sonomapromo.com


While we’re all getting used to new norms, this socially distanced button is a helpful and courteous way to communicate messages without having to speak. With free PMS-color matching, choose from one to four colors for the same price. Instead of the standard safety pin, add a clothing magnet, bulldog clip or refrigerator magnet to the back of every button.

Express-A-Button / PPAI 111928, S7  /  www.expressabutton.com


This 36-inch-long breakaway lanyard with a plastic buckle clip and bulldog clip makes it easy for users to take on and off. Simply unclip the plastic buckle instead of wrestling with pulling it over your head. Best for multi-color, full-color and gradient logos, the logo must be the same on each side and the second side logo will have a random starting point.

High Caliber Line / PPAI 205801, S10  /  highcaliberline.com


Always keep hand sanitizer easily available with the hand cleanser spray bottle with rope lanyard. With a lanyard for easy portability, this sprayer dispenses hand sanitizer in a gel form, giving it a significantly lower evaporation rate and a longer shelf life. Recipients’ hands will be refreshed without leaving a sticky residue. Customize the hand sanitizer using four-color process for a vivid representation of a company name and logo.

AZX Sport-USA / PPAI 224494, S6 / www.promoplace.com/azxsport


For those who work where showing a badge is a must, this round body three-quarter-inch solid carabineer badge reel is the reliable option. With a 24-inch retractable nylon cord, recipients can easily use their badge without having to unclip the durable vinyl snapback strap. Available in a variety of body colors and free PMS-matched imprinting, your client’s logo will stand out against the chrome metal border and plastic adapter base. A full-color decal sticker can also be printed with a strong epoxy dome.

ImprintID / PPAI 576424, S1 / www.imprintID.com


Secure your face mask in place while eliminating ear discomfort with the face mask lanyard. Made in the USA, this lanyard will keep your mask clean, comfortable and convenient. When not in use, the mask can hang around the neck—lanyard-style, and two slots on each band end allow for easy adjustability. Available in one size fits most, it’s machine washable and includes a one-color woven imprint on a one-color webbing. Mask not included.

WOV-IN / PPAI 205801, S5 / www.wov-in.com


While lanyards are the perfect choice for keeping track of an ID, they are also useful for holding a mask. Keep track of your mask with this open-ended lanyard with two swivel-bulldog clips. Hang the lanyard in your rearview mirror or on a key holder by the door. This lanyard is available in 25 stock material colors or any Pantone-PMS color. Mask not included.

BamBams / PPAI 255565, S9 / www.bambams.com


Perfect for holding pens, badges and hand sanitizer, this premium nylon wallet is a must for next year’s conventions and trade shows. Featuring three pockets, including a clear front window pocket and a large back window pocket with an imprint area, recipients can be hands-free with all their essentials within easy reach. Using four-color screen print or full color/CMYK, imprint up to three colors.

ImprintID / PPAI 576424, S1 / www.imprintID.com


This digital square event/ID badge with rounded corners is a refreshing break from the standard badge. Made in the USA, this full-color, digital-printed badge on styrene plastic has a matte finish. Not only is it useful, but this 3.5-inch square badge will make a great keepsake for event recipients.

High Caliber Line / PPAI 205801, S10 / highcaliberline.com


Kristina Valdez is associate editor of PPB.

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