We have seen that designing a cloth badge entails more than just creating an image. Having looked at the material, borders and type you now have a better understanding of the limitations and possibilities of what can be achieved with cloth badges. Now let’s look at the design itself.
Often the most important aspect of the design is whether it needs to conform to any specific standards.
Scouts branding document outlines all the logos and colours that should be followed where Girlguiding have gone a step further in producing a badge design guide. This sets out the wording you must follow and its placement. For example, as the rules are currently, there is only one colour trefoil allowed so no sectional trefoils. Wording must contain the area, unit or district name otherwise you’d be giving the impression it was a nationwide official badge; and you must not change the trefoil in anyway to incorporate it into the design.
So you cannot change the trefoil into a face or add it to the uniform on the design, it must stand alone and be clear. All designs should be sent to and approved by a commissioner, area PR or emailed to HQ. Otherwise you’ll risk the design not complying and you won’t be able to use them.
Level of Detail
Particularly with Embroidered badges the level of detail should be kept to a minimum due to the limitations of the stitching as this doesn’t allow clear and sharp edges to the shapes. With woven you can achieve a far more detailed image such as our London badges where we have many different patterns and details.
Each manufacturer has a different range of threads available but often you can let them match the threads to your colours unless you have something specific. For example let them know the Pantone colour of the trefoil and any other branding colours. With woven they can often match to a pantone very well.
Always try and reduce the number of colours as much as possible. It helps if you are using a vector based software such as Illustrator as you can see how many colours you’ve used. Try and combine similar colours together as it’s often unnecessary to include small variations.
Remember the background is also counted as a colour and any white spaces or black outlines as well. An overlocking border however doesn’t count as this is not part of the main stitching process and is added afterwards.
There are two aspects of fonts to consider. Firstly does your branding guidelines state a specific font to be used? In Scouts there are a number of different fonts for each section but with Girlguiding Trebuchet is the main font that you should use.
The second thing to consider is the limitations of the stitching and how readable it will be. Try and not to use any elaborate fonts such as scripts or anything in italic. These don’t tend to show up very clearly. Capital letters can sometimes look boring but are the best way to have clear text on the badge.
It’s always a good idea to print your design at full size before having it produced to check everything looks good at the scale it’ll be made at and that fonts are not too small.
When thinking about what to actually show on the badge try and think about your audience. Are you just making a badge for your unit or specific event; or are you selling them to a wider aspect of people?
When it’s a unit badge you can make the information very specific to the event but if it’s a challenge badge that you intend on selling think of what you’d like or dislike to see when buying other peoples badges.
Keep it clear and simple with a main image at its centre. Often a cute or unique iconic image will grab the attention of people and make it something they really want to display on their campblanket.
Copyright and Trademarks
A very important thing to remember is whether you have permission to use the images contained on your badge. Trefoils are often trademarks and if you have permission to use them you often are restricted to how. Sometimes if you’re struggling to comply with all of these demands it’s easier to remove them and any references to any organisation and make it more generic, thus giving greater freedom of design.
Getting Clipart from the internet can be a minefield and you should always find out what license comes with each image used and save a copy of it. Anything such as Disney characters are a no go area and these corporations have been known to chase individuals who are making money selling unofficial items containing their trademarks. Beware also of grabbing snippets of other peoples work. Contrary to popular belief just changing same of the colours, details or only taking parts of an image is still copyright theft.
The type of license is also important. You can usually find images that are Royalty free for personal use, however if you’re planning on selling items with the image on you’ll often need an Extended License which is more expensive. Check the small print though as you can sometimes find that Charities are allowed to use the items but this would be specific to each vendor. If you are unsure don’t use it!
Don’t be tempted to just grab an image from a Google Search as often the blog or website are using the image without permission, instead go to clipart and vector stock image websites such as VectorStock and Shutterstock. Or better still get someone to draw an image for you; it’ll be unique to your badge and you can be sure you’re allowed to use it. There are companies who regularly run searches across the internet automatically looking for images similar those in their libraries so don’t chance it.
Making your own badge is a fun and rewarding experience. Often you can raise a good amount of funds for your units if you create a well thought out and useful challenge with a good looking badge.
Get designing and seek professional assistance from badge manufacturers who are always happy to take your drawings and tweak it into a badge you’ll be proud to display for years to come.
I hope you’ve found this article on cloth badge backings useful and final chapters will be uploaded very soon. If you are looking for custom cloth badges there are many good UK based companies around which can be found by searching custom embroidered badges uk in Google.
Don’t forget to visit BadgeFreaks for all our ready-made cloth badges and pins!