The story of the lanyard began as an example of practical functionality, and ended as a symbol of social identity. Describing it this way makes it seem as if the transition was drastic and abrupt. But to most people who own a lanyard today, its use as part of a uniform or decoration only seems natural. What happened during the lanyard’s evolution that forced everyone to change their perspective on what it can become?
Discipline Breeding Creativity
The simplest answer can be summed up with a single word – customisation. Even during its earliest days, people had the ability to design and change lanyards to make it their own. The transition began in the military where lanyards were commonly used to connect a pistol, a sword, or a whistle to a uniform semi-permanently.
This made it imperative for owners to do something to help them quickly identify their lanyards and avoid creating a shortage. Customisation took many forms during this period; the most common method was the simple writing of initials, while more creative soldiers added things to slightly change the design.
The practice of using lanyards remained common as the number of divisions and platoons within various militaries continued to grow. These divisions wanted to distinguish themselves from the others and began changing the design of the lanyards to make it visually closer to the uniform.
This created a diverse amount of custom lanyard designs that piqued the interest of people outside the military. With the rigid discipline of the military regarding dress, lanyards soon became an indispensable part of the uniform, and came to symbolise uniformity soon after.
Establishing lines of social inclusion through shared symbols are a psychological mechanism that many groups use to promote unity within their organisations. Managers and business owners find it easier to direct and delegate members of their group when they “buy in” to the identity of the company and share in its vision.
The Most Powerful Messenger
Several establishments saw the value in lanyards not only because of its potential for social identification, but also for the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of its implementation. Sports teams, schools, and security personnel try to make the most out of this effect by extending their branding to very medium possible.
T-shirts, mugs, umbrellas and all kinds of merchandise are often used as tools to promote unison and establish an identity. Custom lanyards for ID cards are among the most popular of these choices because of two important reasons – portability and exposure.
Unlike umbrellas and mugs, lanyards have no boundaries of where wearers an take them, making the branding every possible chance to be seen. In addition, because many establishments require the display of ID cards, the use of lanyards is further encouraged. This effectively increases its influence on both the wearer and the people who see it.
Lanyards are among the most powerful marketing and branding tools in existence, and the best part is that people often want to have them. Resistance to accepting a free lanyard – or even the offer of buying one – is nearly unheard of, because of its practical applications.
The wearer gets a new way to hold their ID cards, and the company gets their name out in the wild. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved, adding another reason for the lanyards success.