Three types of Open Badge distribution approach to consider

When thinking about the distribution architecture for your digital Open Badge program there are 3 viable approaches you should consider:

Manual Distribution based on Simple Criteria

Manual distribution is often fairly easy to do – an open badge platform ┬álike Credly will provide features for sending badges via email and via claim codes.

From an administration point of view, manual distribution only works when there are a small number of badges, a simple criteria for achievement (attendance at an event, completion of a course for example) and a small number of recipients.

However, short of hiring a pool of badge administrators, this does not allow you to scale! For more ambitious programs, automation is required:

Automated Distribution based on Simple Criteria

With automated distribution you will need a separate system for handling the criteria achievement. Most gamification and success tracking platforms can do this for you. For example Rise lets you set up a number of checkboxes which can be updated via API, via spreadsheet upload or manually by managers.

Rise metrics can be sophisticated based on numerical thresholds but can also be very simple – a checkbox for example

Then the tracking platform connects to the open badge provider and automatically distributes the badge once all the criteria are met.

One of the advantages of having an underlying tracking platform for multiple simple criteria is that for each badging program you can display the current participants and track staff as they progress. This provides social feedback for other staff who are encouraged to join the program and for those staff mid-progress, they are herded towards completion.

A Rise board provides one way to track both simple and complex criteria for your badge recipients and then automatically distribute open badges on successful completion


But in many more sophisticated programs the criteria may develop to be more sophisticated than a simple yes or no – perhaps a grading system or different badges for different thresholds met?

Automated Distribution based on Complex Criteria

A good example of this sort of automated distribution might be a social selling success tracking program. Giving sales reps a badge dependent on their current size of LinkedIn network would certainly recognise them, and spur them to increase their reach and so earn the badge for the next level up.

Screenshot 2017-07-06 12.11.30
Automatically distributing threshold based badges for LinkedIn network size via a Credly account.

Again having an underlying gamification or success tracking platform is absolutely vital. The platform can track each underlying metric and then apply the badge rules and automate the distribution of badges as needed.

With multiple criteria the individual participants will want to see how they are doing – here the tracking app comes into its own as it can provide a dashboard for each participant to see the breakdown of their current scores and progress over time.

Rise clients are doing exactly this by linking their Rise board with Credly badges for seamless automated distribution. Contact us to find out how Rise can support you in your Badge program.



Designing your digital badge – a handy checklist of visual elements

badge list

Creating one digital badge is relatively easy – creating many can get quite hard, harder still if you want to roll out the ability to give badges to others within your organisation.

If you’re creating more than one badge, you’ll find you need to define your digital badge guidelines – it’s like having a brand book but for badges.

One organisation that’s an expert at badges is the Girl Guiding association – their guidelines on how to create a bespoke badge are worth reading to see how it’s done.

pb 60It’s quite common for organisations to leave badge design to their visual design team, however it is important that business users are involved in the strategic visual decisions – what stays the same for each badge, and what differs. Badges once given can be displayed anywhere so are an important visual marker of your success tracking program, getting them wrong or designing them badly can undermine confidence in your core program itself.

Adventure Badge
While a visual designer can make the same badge look very different, it’s up to the business leader to define what elements of the badge remain standard for each different badge and what can be changed.


In this post, I want to signpost some of the key visual language decisions you need to make when designing your badges. Your written guidelines should  then state clearly which of these can be changed and which need to remain the same for each new badge.

pb 60Shape

Shape is important in badges – while the most common are circles, squares and shields, any shape can be the canvas for your badge, even a star!0023_free_vector_graphics.jpg


The border can frame the badge by being a different colour from the main shape. It could even support text within it.


Banners are often placed inside, above or below the shape. The banner will usually include text to explain the badge.

Central Icon

Badges often have a clear icon that summarises the activity for which the badge was awarded.


Many badges include quite a bit of text to explain what they are for, the font you choose should reflect your brand. Be aware that badges are often shown at small resolutions so readability is important.


For me colour shouldn’t be used to mean too much – digital badges are inherently global and colour can have a very subjective meaning – that’s not to say it won’t be appropriate to use it in some circumstances.


Adorning your badge with a serated edge, a repeating background pattern, an extra icon or perhaps a double border can give your badge a different feel.


Rating stars are often used within badge design to denote achievement level.

pb 60

In terms of text / icons that you need to fit onto a badge consider the following:


The stamp of the institution awarding the badge.


Badges may be awarded for all time or they could represent achievements for a certain time period.


The achievement or the activity for which the badge was earned.


The level at which the badge was earned


Your overall categorisation for the badge.


The region, locality for which the badge was earned.

pb 60So, there’s plenty of permutations for your digital badge design!

Spending some time in advance defining what you keep standard and what you change each time will help you.

Don’t forget, once your badge is defined you can use them at scale by hosting the badge itself on and use to automate distribution based on your scoring criteria.