Nowadays, lanyards have become synonymous with ID laces. Whether you’re a student, an office worker, an attendee of some conference or convention, or perhaps a visitor in a sprawling business complex, you’ll most likely have worn a lanyard or encountered someone sporting one with an identification card or an access badge attached to it.
But before they became the ubiquitous necklaces we know today, lanyards have already showcased their versatility as early as the 15th century. The French military used lanyards to attach whistles and weapons like pistols, swords, or knives to their uniforms, so that these items are always within reach. “Lanyards,” by the way, is a term which came from the old French word “lanière,” meaning “strap” or to “strap.”
Sailors of the olden days also used lanyards—usually made of ropes—to tighten or loosen the rigs of their ships, as needed. They also used lanyards to carry different tools with them as they scaled the rigging, thus enabling them to use both hands in climbing and in adjusting or repairing the sails, among other tasks.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and lanyards are still used for practical purposes. However, they have evolved to become more decorative and even more versatile, with companies like Wristband Creation now even offering a variety of customization options to create truly unique lanyards. Here are the most popular uses of lanyards today.
Identification Laces in Schools and Offices
As earlier mentioned, lanyards are frequently seen as ID holders, typically used to carry identification cards as well as security badges like proximity cards. Wherever you need to wear an ID—be it a school, any kind of workplace, or an events venue like a convention center or concert grounds—you’ll definitely see a variety of lanyards. Sometimes, lanyards can even clue you in on the designation of the person wearing them even before seeing their actual ID. Some lanyards also have badge reels attached to them, so that it’s easier to show the ID to security personnel or tap a security card onto a scanner.
Schools and offices, in particular, are the most famous places that use lanyards for ID laces. Sometimes, students and employees are allowed to use their own lanyards, just as long their IDs are on display whenever they are in the premises. That’s why it isn’t unusual to see lanyards of different colors, designs, and sizes, especially in smaller schools and offices—you might see one student wearing a BlizzCon lanyard and another sporting one from Google.
However, larger institutions like big universities and established corporations often have lanyards that are decorated with their names or logo—think of MIT or Stanford, or Harvard and other Ivy League universities, as well as companies like Google, Facebook, Intel, and the like. These simple items can be a source of school spirit and company pride, and you might even see alumni and former employees who continue to use their school or company lanyards perhaps as keyholders or as simple keepsakes.
Depending on the level of detail, schools and offices often use either nylon lanyards or polyester lanyards to ensure that their names and logos are clearly visible. Meanwhile, events organizers usually have two options: use tubular lanyards to save on costs and instead provide beautifully designed ID cards, or splurge on nylon or polyester lanyards to maximize their marketing potential.
Giveaways and Fundraising Materials
Lanyards are also popular giveaways during events like seminars and conferences, conventions, concerts, and more. Indeed, because they are inexpensive and easy to produce, lanyards are among the most preferred promotional products.
Nonprofits and charitable institutions looking to raise funds for their causes may also turn to lanyards for a creative yet affordable solution. Lanyards from popular organizations and companies like Facebook, or even music groups with ardent fanbases like American pop stars, European bands, or South Korean and Japanese “idol” groups can also become collectible items over time.
The kind of lanyards used for giveaways and fundraisers can range from the more affordable tubular and woven lanyards to the more premium polyester or nylon ones. It all depends on the budget, design requirements, and customization options like clips and other attachments.
Gadget and Electronics Holders
These days, it’s wise to invest in protective accessories for gadgets as much as we invest in these electronic devices themselves. Smartphones, MP3 players, cameras, high-capacity flash drives, handheld gaming consoles, and other such gadgets can cost thousands of dollars. Just imagine the additional money you have to shell out if they get damaged or lost. Apple’s entry-level iPhone X, for example, is priced at $999; should you drop the phone (but let’s hope you don’t!) and crack the screen, you’d have to shell out an additional $279. If your phone has “other damage” upon assessment by Apple, repair fees can skyrocket up to $549!
If you’re prone to dropping your gadgets, then lanyards are a simple yet effective way to keep them safe. Cell phone loops and various kinds of hooks and clasps make it easy for you to attach almost any kind of handheld device to a lanyard. Lanyards also lower the chances of your devices getting lost since different lengths allow you to place your gadgets around your neck, strap them around your wrist, or even attach them to your bag.
Keys are notoriously easy to misplace. They’re small, and we move them around so much, so it’s more difficult for our brain’s spatial memory to manage the information about where we left our keys. Who knew that the explanation about why you always lose your keys can be so scientific, right?
But apart from the minutes, if not hours, of stressing and trying to remember where you’ve placed your keys, losing these items can also end up costing you money. Car keys, for example, now have electronic key fobs apart from the main metal key. Depending on the model of the fob, you’re looking at replacement fees within the range of $100 to upwards of $300.
Luckily, lanyards can save you from all this trouble. They are often used as keychains because you can actually have a lanyard customized with a keyring or a hook attachment. This is especially helpful in situations where multiple persons may use several sets of keys, like in a convenience store or a public pool. What’s more, since lanyards can be made as distinctive as you want them to be, it will also make it easier for you to remember where you have placed your keys.
As Camping and Hiking Gear
Outdoorsmen are also big users of lanyards, especially since they have to carry a lot of equipment with them whenever they camp, hike, hunt, or fish. Things like multi-tools, pocket knives, lighters and extra kindling, portable cookware, water and food containers, and signaling devices like whistles, flashlights, and emergency beacons are just a few of the items off an extensive list of gear that they have to carry around.
Lanyards used for this purpose are usually made from nylon, as this material is more hard-wearing against the elements. Attachments like carabiners are also invaluable in camping and hiking, especially when climbing steep rises. Indeed, some campers and hikers use paracord lanyards that can be unraveled to use as a climbing rope, among many other uses. However, one small disadvantage of a paracord lanyard is that once you unravel it, you will either have to rebraid it or run out of cord to reuse. Having a separate lanyard to carry small essentials while wearing a paracord lanyard or bracelet can prove to be a more ideal scenario.
While they are not specifically required to do so, military and police forces around the world continue to use lanyards to keep their guns and other small tools and pieces of equipment close by. However, one of the most common uses of lanyards in modern militia is to signify rank through different color combinations and braid patterns of the cords. Some military awards also utilize lanyards to hold different medals and pins.
Ceremonial or dress uniforms may also sport lanyards as decorations, which may or may not indicate rank. These include lanyards styled as epaulettes or those that run from the shoulder to the chest and then affixed inside or on top of a breast pocket.
Lanyards are also common safety accessories. They are often attached to the dead man’s switches of industrial cutting machines, grinders, drills, and the like. Vehicles like trains, jetskis, and various aircraft also have these “kill switches.” The lanyards attached to these switches are often worn by the operator around their wrists so that, should they fall off or unintentionally move away from the machine, the cord will pull the switch and turn off the machine or vehicle.
Meanwhile, lanyards are also used by linemen and other utility workers to prevent falls. These “linemen lanyards” are made of heavy-duty nylon, with a metal ring or carabiner that can be adjusted around pole or other similar attachment points.
In places like schools, hospitals, nursing and long-term care facilities, and factories, lanyards with breakaway closures are also used as an additional safety measure. The breakaway clasps are usually situated on the nape and release when pulled strongly enough or when pressure is applied, thus preventing choking and other similar situations.
These are just a few of the most common uses of a lanyard. With a bit of creativity, you can easily find more ways to use this simple accessory. Who would have thought that a few inches of fabric can serve so many purposes?