How to Effectively Use Badges in Your Business

How to Effectively Use Badges in Your Business

Gamification - Whiteboard Wednesday - Badges

From the Boy Scouts to the Army, badges have long been used to celebrate moments, commemorate events, and challenge people to accomplish particular goals. As the Internet came to dominate the world and video gaming became a multi-billion-dollar industry, certain websites and games began to replicate real-world badges into their digital offerings. Casual and serious gamers alike appreciated these badges, but could such a reward system work in areas other than gaming?

In this first installment of our Business Technology Whiteboard video series (as seen below), we consider that question.

The quick answer lies in two examples of teaching websites that have successfully leveraged badge reward systems. The well-known educational portal called Khan Academy features a long page featuring the badges that a Khan Academy student can earn. For the more difficult to obtain badges, YouTube videos exist to help students attain their goals, much like similar videos that help gamers attain badges on particular games. Codeacademy also offers its users the opportunity to earn badges as they progress through one of their many coding courses.

Yet some consider badge rewards as a superficial system to motivate users toward accomplishing tasks. After all, the badges in and of themselves are worthless, yet sites like Khan Academy and Codeacademy have successfully implemented these digital rewards.

Why have their badge rewards succeeded where others have failed? And how might their success translate into a badge reward system for your own employees?

The most effective way to use badges as a reward is to infuse the badges with meaning.

For example, Khan Academy and Codeacademy don’t give out badges for “most enthusiastic user” or “perfect attendance.” Rather, they dole out badges to members who have put in the hard work of accomplishing the tasks set before them. Such work may take months, or even years, to finish. Though the reward in itself still has zero value, the satisfaction that an end-user feels after accomplishing such a challenging task, and being publicly celebrated for their achievement, is its own reward. Plus, it may make the member work that much harder toward earning the next badge on the list.

So, for a business to consider engaging their employees with a badge reward system, the company must look to offer rewards in areas where an employee’s completed actions benefit both the employee and the company itself. Giving out badges for “highest revenue earner” might be good for the company, but how does it benefit the employee? On the other hand, rewarding badges for “most cheerful” might be good for morale, but how does it affect the bottom line? The best types of badge rewards find the middle ground between what’s good for the company and what’s good for the employee.


  • Infuse meaning into your reward badges.

  • Make earning the badges an achievable challenge.

Then you’ll be able to see if such badge rewards might be what motivates your employees—and your company—to meaningful accomplishments.

To learn more about gamification and employee engagement, visit TechnologyAdvice’s blog, or download our employee engagement study on our whitepaper page.


Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.


  1. Someone forward that video to gamification designer.

    Comment badge… oh that value. I can totally see how I am as cool as the boys scout guy, who is allowed to use the knive… (I know it levels up and it gets cool once I get like the highest level, because it is totally not an extrinsic motivator, which against the insights we have for over 30 years now by Ryan is not given for a high quality comment, but only for the task, which is the fastest way to get on the over-justification path)

    Anyway its not rocket science to get badges right, still wondering how so many businesses get it so wrong. Good thing the message keeps spreading though.