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Challenge Coins 101

June 14, 2021

Challenge Coins 101

Challenge coins make an excellent memento to represent membership in a community and recognize exceptional leadership, service, or commitment. What’s more, challenge coins can even enhance morale or add a tongue-in-cheek spin on a classic.

But wait… what exactly are challenge coins? What’s the history of challenge coins? Are challenge coins just for the military, or could they be a good fit to hand out to your employees or sell in your online store?

Challenge coins may be a bit of a mystery to many, but they make an excellent gift or custom product. We’ll help you understand what exactly they are, whether your business could use them, and how you can create custom challenge coins online.

Get your notebook out and put your thinking cap on – welcome to Challenge Coins 101, where you’ll learn all the basics about challenge coins and how to create your own custom coins. 

 

What is a Challenge Coin?

what is a challenge coin

A challenge coin is a specially designed coin given to confirm membership in an organization or group. It’s typically small in size, bearing an organization’s logo or emblem and carried by all of the organization’s members.

Challenge coins can be used to simply represent membership in an organization, community, or company, or to recognize a specific person for a special achievement.

These unique coins are custom-designed to be unique to a specific organization. They may be kept in a keepsake box, carried in a pocket, or displayed proudly on a wall. Challenge coins have no monetary value but typically carry lots of sentimental value. They represent unity and are often treasured, kept safe and passed on as an heirloom.

History of Challenge Coins

Challenge coins have a long-standing tradition in military history, dating all the way back to the Roman Empire. In the United States, challenge coins seem to have originated during World War I, when a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze and presented them to his unit. When that challenge coin was used to identify a wounded soldier, it became tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times. This tradition has since spread to other military units as well as Congress. 

Today, challenge coins are still commonly used in the military as well as first-responder services. Many other organizations and businesses have started creating custom challenge coins to give to new members when they join an organization, as awards to recognize achievement, or as products to commemorate special occasions.

 

What Does a Challenge Coin Look Like?

How does a challenge coin look like

Since challenge coins are custom-made, they can be made to look like just about anything. Challenge coins are traditionally round, but they can come in other custom shapes as well. The most traditional challenge coins are made of zinc, bronze, brass, silver, or even solid gold, with a textured or raised design. Some challenge coins may have colored enamel painted onto the etching for decorative purposes. 

Challenges often include the insignia of the organization. They may also include a design reflecting a specific achievement, the year the organization was founded, the year the challenge coin was presented, or the motto of the organization. But again, challenge coins are entirely customizable – nowadays, you can print just about anything on a challenge coin. 

 

How Are Challenge Coins Made?

how are challenge coins made

Challenge coins are typically made by making a custom mold, die striking the mold onto brass or steel, cutting the edges, plating with metal, and laser engraving fine details. It’s a rather complex process involving a lot of machinery and materials.

If you’d like to create custom challenge coins for your business or organization, you’re in luck! Nowadays, it’s possible to create custom challenge coins online by outsourcing production to top factories. It’s a quick, straightforward process – and you don’t have to order thousands of coins to get a great price!

 

How to Create Custom Challenge Coins

how to create custom challenge coins

The/Studio makes it easy to create 100% custom challenge coins – no metalworking required! Here’s how to create custom challenge coins for your business or organization with The/Studio’s DIY online product creation tool:

1. Select your product

The/Studio allows you to create all sorts of custom products, from patches to pins to socks and beyond. Select the custom coin option first.

2. Customize your coin

Time to make your challenge coin your own. Select the size, color, style, and finish of your coin. The/Studio offers 20 coin materials to choose from, including gold, silver, brass, nickel, copper, rose gold, and more. Then, choose the type of design you’d like to create and what sort of borders you’d like on your coin. 

3. Add upgrades

The customization isn’t over! You’ll also have the option to add extra features to your coin, including a bottle opener function, a spinning centerpiece, epoxy coating, glow-in-the-dark enamel, and more. The/Studio also offers a wide selection of optional kitting options for easy displaying, selling, and gifting. 

4. Submit your design

Upload a PDF of your coin design, whether it’s your company’s logo or your organization’s insignia. Not sure about the design? No worries – request free design services from our in-house design team, and we’ll help you create a gorgeous custom challenge coin.

5. Approve a sample

Our team will create a physical prototype for your approval. You’ll receive a physical prototype of your coin in the mail or a detailed set of photographs to review. If all looks good, we’ll move forward with production – otherwise, respond with detailed feedback and we’ll make any changes you’d like free of charge.

6. Receive your coins

Enjoy free U.S. shipping and receive your pins in the mail. Then, do whatever you’d like with them – whether you use them to improve employee loyalty and recognize achievements or to improve brand recognition by handing them out to potential customers.

Ready to start making custom challenge coins for your business or organization? Start the process here.

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