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What is a Lanyard and Which One is Right for You?

Red USB flash drives

The word “lanyard” originated from the French word “lanière,” which translates roughly to mean “strap.” Early uses of lanyards include securing the ropes on a boat and harnessing and firing weapons in the military. Nowadays, lanyards are better known as a fabric cord or strap used to carry ID badges, keys, and event tickets. Lanyards are available with a variety of different attachments to choose from, depending on their intended use. They can be often be spotted at schools and colleges, at the office, on corporate campuses, and at events, such as conferences and conventions, trade shows, and concerts.

When considering which lanyard is right for you, take some time to browse all the available materials, widths, colors, and attachments. Imagine what your imprinted logo and message will look like on the finished product when making your decision. Because you are buying lanyards in bulk, you will want to make sure that the one you choose will match your and your organizations’ needs. Here, we’ll go over the top categories and what you should know about them, as well as some product recommendations to help you make a decision.

Read on to learn more about choosing the best lanyards for your needs. Or, click on a section to jump ahead:

What Type of Lanyard is Best for My Industry or Event?

Lanyards for Employees

Security and PCI Compliance

With security being an important consideration in so many workplaces and PCI compliance requiring badges be worn above the waist, more and more employees are wearing lanyards. Using a lanyard to reinforce key corporate messages is a great way to ensure that the message is visible every morning and throughout the day.

Comfort and Durability

When you need to wear a lanyard all day, it needs to be both durable and comfortable, which is why many companies are turning towards stretch lanyards which are easier to get on and off and will not break. Nylon and cotton lanyards are known to be quite comfortable, making them a great choice for employees. Two great choices are the Smooth Slide Lanyard and the Cotton Retractable Badge Lanyard.

Lanyards for Healthcare

Healthcare professionals need to be immediately identifiable all day for security compliance as well as to project legitimacy to patients when they need to have confidence in their care.

Nurses and doctors use their hands all day, so everything needs to be hands-free. Lanyards can eliminate the need to put things in pockets and keep important items close at hand. Retractable lanyards are ideal for sterile environments as items stay securely in place with no risk of falling on the floor or coming into contact with patients. Check out the Retractable Convenience Lanyard and the 2-in-1 Lanyard Badge Reel.

Lanyards for Education

School environments place a high emphasis on safety, as they well should. Teachers at elementary schools, high schools, and colleges, as well as any guests must wear an ID, guest, or volunteer badge on a lanyard in order to be easily identifiable as someone who is authorized to be in a school or campus building.

Lanyards also come in handy in school sports and athletic programs, as coaches wear whistles and students wear lanyards with a team logo imprint for keys and IDs.

Lanyards are also an indispensable item for college students, who have to navigate multiple buildings, and carry lots of books and materials, as well as a laptop. Lanyards allow students to wear their building passkeys, or keys and college IDs around their neck, reducing the number of items they have to keep track of, as well as making their daily necessities readily accessible. Great picks for students include the ¾ Inch Flat Lanyard and the ½ Inch Polyester Lanyard with Split Ring.

Lanyards for Trade Shows

Lanyards and badges are must-have items for any trade show and event. There are a number of lanyards to choose from that are affordable and will show off your company or organization name or logo in an economical one color imprint. Trade show lanyards tend to be for one-time use only, as opposed to those used for employee IDs that get worn every day. Choosing a wider lanyard will allow you to say a little bit more about your company.

Some of our best-selling lanyards for trade shows are:

The Stylin’ Swivel Lanyard with its breakaway clip feature.

Lanyard with Swivel Attachment

The ½” Cotton Lanyard, that comes in a variety of widths and attachments (see accessories for a list of attachment options.

Cotton Lanyard

The Neck ID Badge Holder, which is particularly good for events since it has a badge holder, which works as a lanyard.

Lanyard with ID Badge Holder

Trade Show Lanyard Hacks

Trade show tip #1 (for trade show organizers): Consider offering a sponsorship where a company purchases the lanyards for the event. The lanyards then display this company’s logo on them, creating a win-win scenario. The value to the sponsoring company is tremendous, as they are potentially advertising to tens of thousands of attendees.

Trade show tip #2 (for trade show advertisers): In addition to lanyards, offer an “extra” such as a custom imprinted lip balm and sunscreen stick which provides more visibility for the brand while giving additional benefit to the attendee.

Trade show tip #3 (for trade show advertisers): To stand out from the rest, choose a higher-end lanyard option, such as a neck wallet badge holder that holds a phone, charging cable, USB flash drive, business cards and pens, or a lanyard with eyeglasses straps or notepads. These multi-functional options make for a great giveaway and often drive traffic to the booth when people are looking for a better option than the standard event lanyard.

Lanyards for Charity Races & Outdoor Events

Lanyards make a great giveaway items for 5K and charity runs. Many causes have colors associated with them, like pink for breast cancer awareness and red for heart health month. Our Dye Sublimated Lanyards have stock full-color print backgrounds including a pink option with an awareness ribbon pattern, or you can use your own art to represent your case.

Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon Lanyard

Choose a lanyard that matches the color of your cause, along with the name and logo of your race or organization. Lanyard add-ons include participants’ race numbers, race day badges, and medals.

Types of Attachments

One of the most important decisions when choosing a lanyard is selection your attachment. There are dozens of attachments available, the bulldog clip being the most common. According to Crestline’s Director of Vendor Relations, the most popular clip styles sold to our customers are the are swivel hook and the bulldog. “In fact, bulldog has recently changed to double bulldog. When you wear the bulldog clip, sometimes the badge flips on you, but if you have the double bulldog clips, it lays flat and you can see the information.” Determining when to use what type of clip can be a challenge, so we’ve created a guide of common attachment uses, to help you decide:

The metal crimp attachment is usually used on half inch and narrower lanyards but can also be used on wider lanyards.

The bulldog clip comes in large or regular sizes, and is great for clipping ID cards, name badges. A simple snap attachment that works well for IDs and is also offered in plastic. With or without vinyl clip. Fun fact: the bulldog clip is a trademarked name, chosen to represent how strong and trustworthy this lanyard attachment actually is!

Lanyards with double clips are super-helpful in preventing badges from spinning around while wearing.

This kind of lanyard attachment is less common as it can only be used by securing the badge to the ring with pins. For this reason, this attachment is not as popular as some of the other options.

This type of attachment is great for holding keys securely.

Some lanyards come with a built-in retractable badge reel, to add convenience to the process of swiping a security/ID badge. According to our Director of Vendor Relations, “A lot of people are going over to the retractable lanyard verses the traditional style because at schools, hospitals and offices where you need to swipe a card to get in, you can just move your card with your arm instead of stretching your neck and moving your body.” Compact retractable styles can be worn anywhere on the body, from your shirt pocket to your waist, giving the wearer more options.

Lanyard Materials

There are a number of material options to choose from when selecting your lanyards. Common considerations may include uses, appearance, and price.

Nylon is a common choice for lanyards because it is a smooth, comfortable, and economical material.

Polyester is a durable material that in addition to being economical, it also allows for dye sublimation printing which is a brilliant full-color process.

Elastic is a stretchy material, allowing for a universal fit.

Cotton is another popular choice as it is a soft, comfortable, and eco-friendly material. It is also durable.

Neoprene is a long-lasting and water-resistant material, making it great for lanyards.

Satin, although shiny is a durable fabric, nonetheless, that will show off your imprinted logo.

PVC is a durable, flexible, and lightweight material that is a great choice for lanyards.

Printing Options

The imprint area for lanyards is determined by the thickness of the lanyard you choose, which ranges from a thin 3/8” to a wide 1.5”. You may want to customize your lanyards with simple text that repeats in just one color (with either imprinted or stitched in lettering) or design your neck wallet or badge holder in a more elaborate way. It is possible to imprint nylon, polyester and satin lanyards with beautiful, photo-like full-color dye sublimation for maximum visual impact.

one color imprint lanyard
One Color Imprint
full color imprint lanyards
Full Color Imprint
(Dye Sublimation)

Special Features

Some lanyards also include add-on features such as a charging cable, note pad, or bottle holder. Other lanyards can also be used to secure personal items, such as the lanyard with phone holder, and the lanyard with eyeglasses straps.


Choosing a color that complements your organization is another way to customize your lanyards. Whether you are looking for something traditional or something bright, there is an option for everyone. Sometimes, special events call for special lanyards! Choose a cool, full color imprint or cute reflective, rainbow tie-dye, or camo option!

Bright Colors

Tie Dye

Lanyard Safety

Many lanyards come with breakaway options. You might not think of a lanyard as a safety hazard, but machinery can catch a lanyard and cause choking or injury. People who work in health care, at events or with children are susceptible to people grabbing and pulling on their lanyards. A breakaway feature allows the lanyard to split easily and safely. In the name of safety, more people are choosing either breakaway or retractable styles.

Other Ordering Considerations

Minimum Quantity

Minimum quantities for lanyards start at 100 for popular styles. Specialized lanyards with special features like USB drives or notepads are available in quantities as low as 25.

Made in the USA

If this is important to you, your clients, or the buzz surrounding your event, consider choosing lanyards made in the USA.



More Trade Show Essentials

In addition to promotional lanyards, we offer a variety of other trade show and event essentials that should not be overlooked, such as table covers and runners, booth and display items, as well as tents, banners, and signs. Draw even more attention to your trade show booth with customized giveaways, and to make sure you have remembered every item on your wish list, consult our trade show timeline and check list!

Why Buy Imprinted Lanyards?

Imprinted lanyards are a practical and convenient way to share your brand message. Custom printed promotional lanyards are made from a variety of materials like cotton, nylon, and polyester, and display your name, message, and logo. Lanyards can be easily personalized to align with your organization's needs.

Promo lanyards, along with badge holders, are a popular promotional item that can be used across a variety of businesses and industries. From teachers to healthcare professionals to trade show attendees, lanyards are a convenient means for employees to keep their IDs handy and ready to scan or display.

Future Trends

Trends to look for include the option to personalize lanyards with individual names. Lanyards are often intended for one-time use, such as tradeshows, conferences, and other special events. However, as our Director of Vendor Relations points out, when people are given an item with their name on it, they are likely to hold on to it. Keep your eye out for new materials, colors, and attachments, as well, as the promotional lanyard, with all its different uses, is here to stay!