Everything You Need to Know About Awareness Wristbands
Awareness wristbands are elastic bracelets used by various groups to promote their causes. These are made from silicone rubber, are cost-effective to produce, and customizable. They can be dyed with different colors and made to carry different slogans or logos. It’s also popular among companies and non-profit organizations as souvenirs, especially for campaigns that last for weeks or months.
Indeed, people have used them to show support for advocacies like fund-raisers for cancer research, or as custom-made giveaways for events. This led to them being known as “awareness bracelets,” as a means to differentiate them from the ones used for commercial or corporate purposes.
Properties of Silicone Rubber
Silicone rubber is highly inert and doesn’t react with chemicals. Not only that, it’s also shown to be hypoallergenic and non-toxic. This makes it compatible for use in a lot of products, including medical implants and cooking materials.
Unlike organic rubber, the silicone variant lasts longer as a material for these bracelets. The composition also makes it suitable for use over long periods thanks to its tear, water, and heat-resistant properties. This is why it also has various applications in different industries, among which are insulators for electric cables and coatings for handles. For bracelets, this makes them ideal for promotions and awareness campaigns that can stretch for weeks or months.
Silicone Bracelet Construction
Latex-free silicone rubber is the base material for this fashion accessory. It’s first cut into strips or formed into tubes and then placed in a steel mold. This machine melts the rubber and forms it into the familiar looped bracelet shape. Once cast, the excess silicone is taken out and the bracelets can be customized if needed.
Depending on the client’s specifications, the manufacturer may dye the silicone prior to the molding stage or use pre-existing colored ones. Some types even have a second layer of ink printed on them for more variety. Messages can also be carved or printed into the wristbands according to the client and manufacturer’s preferences.
Different Types of Wristbands
The durability of silicone rubber has made it a popular choice in making wristbands. Not only can it be molded to the client’s specifications, it also allows manufacturers to make different varieties to display its intended messages to the public.
Many of these wristbands use printed messages, while others can even accommodate graphics. Depending on the requirements of the user, these wristbands can come in different varieties, each with their own printing methods.
The first is the imprinted wristband, which involves printing ink over a colored bracelet of the user’s choice. The font style and color can be tailored to individual preferences, allowing for a wide variety of designs. As long as the band can accommodate the design, users can make their wristbands as detailed as they wish. This type is also the easiest and cost-effective to produce.
The second type is the debossed wristband. The process for making these involves engraving the text on the surface of the wristband via laser-carving. Unlike the printed ones, these tend to last longer since the message will not fade. The Livestrong fundraising campaign’s wristbands were was among the first to use this type, with the words “Livestrong” etched into the surface of the band.
Another variety of this is the debossed-filled bracelet where the ink of a different color is used to fill in the engraved spaces. This makes the intended message stand out more as the ink is often a contrast of the material’s color. This is also among the most durable varieties of silicone bracelets as the ink will last much longer than printed varieties.
The third type is the embossed wristbands. Unlike the debossed types, this uses raised text or graphics instead of being carved into the band itself. The so-called “3D effect” is a common choice for parties that can afford a different design to make their messages stand out.
If a more noticeable option is needed, then the emboss-printed wristbands can also be used. After having the message rendered in raised words, these are then painted on with ink to further enhance the embossed 3D effect.
The next kind is the dual-layer wristband. These are special in the sense that the outer layer of the base is oil-sprayed with a secondary color. Parts of this layer are then carved away for the message to be shown in the color of the wristband underneath. This ink can be of a different color to give more contrast to the message.
Finally, if graphics are needed in the bracelet, then figured wristbands can be used. These have a specially-molded space on the band where graphics can be printed alongside text. If the users need to have a logo placed on the wristband, this can be used to make their messages stand out even more. Much like the previous types, figured wristbands can also be debossed and filled with ink.
Other Wristband Materials
While silicone rubber is the most common option, there are also different materials for bracelets that can be used in its construction. People who order them can choose from vinyl, fabric materials, or even Tyvek.
Like silicone, vinyl is a durable plastic material made from ethylene and chlorine. It’s also resistant to moisture and humidity, making it a suitable alternative for silicone. This material has also seen use in commercial items like toys, musical records, and kitchen tiles.
Fabrics are also another alternative for making wristbands. Materials like nylon and polyester are common choices as these are inexpensive and easy to print on. The only downside is that these aren’t as durable as silicone due to them being made of cloth.
Thermal paper is also one of the materials that can be used if wristbands need to be custom-printed on-site. Despite being made of paper, the material is coated to make it resistant to water and oils. The ink is also thermal printed to make the message last as long as possible.
Meanwhile, Tyvek is made from polyethylene plastic fibers. It has seen use in protective construction sheets, postal package envelopes, and industrial protective coverall outfits. This can be used to make long-lasting wristbands if strong materials are required for promotion purposes.
History of Awareness Wristband Use
Similar to awareness ribbons, wristbands have been used to promote different causes and fundraisers. One of the earliest instances was in 2004 where US cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong used these accessories to raise awareness for the disease.
Armstrong’s battle with the disease began in 1996, where he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Following surgery and a chemotherapy regimen, his cancer went into remission. He established the Armstrong Foundation a year after, with the purpose of improving the lives of fellow survivors and those affected by cancer.
Shortly after this, Armstrong resumed training by 1998 for the Tour de France competition, a prestigious cycling race. He would go on to win the 1999 competition and place successive victories over the next years.
In 2004, Armstrong and sports brand Nike first launched the accessory as the Livestrong wristband. These came in the form of yellow wristbands containing the message “Live Strong” and were sold for $1 each. This particular color represented the jersey of the Tour de France leader during the race. More than 80 million pieces have been sold to date, with the proceeds donated to the foundation. These accessories became popular enough that by 2007, customized silicone wristbands were sold at both concert venues and sports events worldwide.
The foundation suffered from a major scandal in 2012 when Armstrong was accused of doping, something which he admitted to in 2013. This action caused his Tour de France titles to be stripped from him, while some of the Livestrong wristband’s wearers also altered them to say “Lie Strong”. This eventually led to Armstrong’s resignation from the foundation and it being rebranded to the Livestrong Foundation, which continued to raise money for cancer patients and survivors alike.
Despite the controversy, the use of silicone bracelets in promotions has not diminished. Having seen proof of its effectiveness as a tool for raising awareness, other organizations have followed suit. Similar campaigns also saw the use of these bracelets during the 2009 recession and beyond.
Another example of these being used in an awareness campaign was during the 2009 US recession. After being laid-off from their jobs, Barbara Bourn and Stephanie Aucoin decided to start their own business to both earn money and highlight the effects of the predicament to the poor.
As part of their efforts, they produced these wristbands for fellow recession victims to wear, with the message “Laid Off Need a Job.com”. Within three weeks, these bracelets attracted the attention of major news outlets. Among those who interviewed Bourn and Aucoin were The Wall Street Journal and BBC, which highlighted the growing problem of unemployment in America during that time.
In 2011, the Create Jobs for USA Campaign was launched by the coffee chain Starbucks as a partnership with the Opportunity Finance Network, with the purpose of raising money for businesses and individuals who lack access to bank financing. By purchasing their products, customers would be able to buy these blue, white, and red woven wristbands with the word “Indivisible” to support the fundraising cause.
Within one year, 800,000 wristbands have been distributed to the public. The program itself also raised more than $15 million, leading to around $105 million in financing for small businesses. An estimated 5,000 jobs were also created or retained as a result of this campaign, with other corporations like Banana Republic, Citi, Google Offers and MasterCard pitching in for support.
The initial success allowed Starbucks to move on to the next phase of the campaign, known as “The Indivisible Fund” with the aim of financing community lenders to finance businesses across the country and give them chances to invest in the future growth of their companies.
Association with Other Causes
Aside from these three examples, awareness wristbands have also been used in other charities, with each bracelet using a different color for the cause they represent.
One example is the use of red for American Heart Month every February. This is when organizations raise awareness among people about the risks for heart disease with red-themed outfits and events. Similarly, the red ribbon has also become a universally accepted symbol among HIV-AIDS supporters. Additional colors include the use of orange for Blood Cancer Awareness Month in September, along with the use of pink during Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns held every October. In other cases, one color has also been used for different illnesses. One example is the use of gray for brain cancer awareness, tumors, and diabetes.
Other colors have also been used with wristbands like purple for Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD, though these have not been limited to illnesses. Charities have also used different colored wristbands, including the donation drive for Hurricane Katrina, which used blue. A similar shade was also used for an anti-bullying campaign in 2004.
Another example is the “Make Poverty History” program in Britain, which used white wristbands. Corporations and political parties have also used their own colors in wristbands to generate awareness to their own causes.
Today, silicone bracelets have since grown in popularity and have been used in various causes from diseases to charities. While the use of different colors may be confusing, printed messages can be sufficient to distinguish the various causes that they represent.
The different cases in which these items have been used all point to certain common characteristics. Not only are they inexpensive and easy to produce, they can be trendy among their intended audiences as a symbol to rally behind. From diseases to charities, these bracelets have proven to be effective as trending items for people to buy.
It’s for this reason that several manufacturers have also established themselves as suppliers of these wristbands in order to meet the rising demand. Whether these items will be used for corporate and non-profit use, it is certain that these wristbands are ideal for promoting one’s messages.