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It’s all in the Name Plates

by Andrea Mustine, IQS Editor

The naming of things does not require a plate, although it certainly is helpful. I do not need a name plate for people to know my name, but if I have one, it means that I am important enough in my workspace to be officially identified. Or it means that I am four years old, and my parents have bought me a super cool teal and glitter name plate to hang above my bed. Either way, as a single human being trying to earn a place in the world, at least a small part of the world, a name plate is a beginning, a sign of significance and prestige. Individual ego boosts in working and home environments are not the limit of name plate use. The realm of the consumer would be a difficult place to navigate without the presence of name plates. Like the signature of an artist or author, the brand name of a guitar or car should be stylishly emblazoned upon the product as homage to the maker. Exploring the specifics of personal office name plates as well as the product name plates and their biggest sellers establishes the nuances of this business and why they can mean so much to us.

Personal name plates, particularly those in office settings, are what probably come to mind first when one is pondering this product. These office name plates are engraved or imprinted and can be set on a desk or hung on or beside a door. Although the amount of information on office name plates is short and sweet, such as the name and position of a worker or the name and room number of the office itself, it still provides the sense of pride in being identified that all humans crave. What gives these name plates their individual character, and therefore various levels of prestige, are the materials used to create them. Metal nameplates and plastic nameplates are the most common, although even within these genres the implications can be vast. Aluminum nameplates are the cheapest metal and therefore more often found on the desk of a mid level worker. Gold name plates, on the other hand, are expensive and would more likely be found displaying the name of a president in a major corporation.

Photos Courtesy of Douglas Corporation.

Product nameplates are a whole other ball game. Instead of identifying an individual person or an office building, industrial name plates identify products and are meant to catch the attention of a consumer. They require nuances of style, color and presentation that are not necessary for desk name plates. Some nameplate manufacturers have recognized this distinction, and they work hard to provide custom nameplates that go above and beyond. We as consumers indulge in name brand products that are considered high-end, which is why a name plate should reflect that. A name plate establishes the brand while advertising the company’s key qualities. So it is for product name plates that the various techniques are most often employed. For example, hot stamping, laser engraving, screen printing and photo anodizing are all specialized processes that allow name plate manufacturers to create bold and eye-catching designs for companies. The colors, the script style, the background design and the texture are all key factors that can help a name plate sell a product. There are also innovations in recent years that give name plates an extra zing, such as making them 3-D.

3-D name plates are the latest and greatest in nameplate design. The depth of a 3-D name plate allows the consumer a tactile experience with the name plate as well as an interesting visual experience. This technique also accentuates the use of color and literally makes the name of the product pop. A 3-D approach also allows a consumer to use multiple materials to create a unique name plate, which can affect the cost of production in a positive way. These sorts of innovations are taking name plates from one generation to the next, keeping them fresh and significant in our society. Like the little girl with her teal and glitter nameplate, industrial nameplates can be as descriptive of a company personality as the name and product itself. Although office nameplates have not branched out to this level of creativity, the essence of identification and belonging is just as important. It’s all in the name plate.

Photos Courtesy of Douglas Corporation.

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