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Rethinking Employee Years of Service Awards

Written on January 10, 2019 at 6:21 pm, by

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Like morning donuts or free lunches, years of service awards are one of the grizzled veterans of employee engagement programs. Even the most straight-laced offices often take time to highlight employees that demonstrate a major commitment with awards like custom lapel pins or corporate challenge coins. These awards are one of the most classic forms of employee recognition, with 85 percent of businesses maintaining tenure-based service awards.

However, too many companies maintain out-of-date approaches with their years of service that fail to recognize their workers on their daily contributions.

Does that mean its time to retire the years of service award? Not so. Companies with years of service awards retain more fulfilled employees. Tenure-based awards reflect well on company culture and increase employee loyalty but to reach their full potential, you need to rethink how and when they’re awarded.

Timely Recognition

Today’s employees are more interested in companies who recognize their day-to-day merit and contributions. However, too many years of service programs are painfully out of touch with modern engagement needs where timely awards are essential. To put it into perspective, the first major milestone for most corporate years of service awards is after five years working with a company when today’s average employee tenure at a job is 4.2 years.

People take pride in managing to overcome a major problem or finish a big project while they’re in the moment. By the time an outdated service award is awarded months or years, employees have probably moved on. When you celebrate major accomplishments at the moment, you’re reinforcing the effort that made that accomplishment happen and encouraging that employee to keep taking those positive actions.

Best Practices For Awarding Years of Service Coins

All About Challenge Coins makes custom-made challenge coins designed for years of service awards, but an award is only as effective as the amount of effort an employer puts into actually recognizing their workforce. While years of service awards are tenure-based, you shouldn’t be awarding them to an employee just for keeping their position for a period of time.

Below, we’ve listed six key best practices for making awarding your years of service pins:

Award years of service coins as a social event

Years of service coins should celebrate your employee’s work and performance, not be a pat on the back for simply sticking around. Work anniversaries aren’t just a big deal for employees, they’re a big deal for a company as well. A five-year anniversary for an employee is also a five-year celebration for a business that’s been run successfully for five years. By turning an award into a big public social event for the company, you’ve managed to turn what might have been an obligation award into a trip down memory lane that involves new and old employees into your business culture.

Award years of service pins publically

One of the reasons why years of service pins are popular is because the actual production of the pins is efficient and quick once you’ve made an initial design. A fact many businesses take advantage of by ordering the pins en masse and simply replacing the text to honor of varying years of service. But slapping one of these pins on someone’s desk when the calendar rings they’ve worked for you for five years is about as meaningful as emailed birthday letter from your insurance provider. It makes that custom pin an impersonal and hollow award. Instead, make it an event! Give your years of service award with both pomp and ceremony celebrating the big projects your employee has taken part in and highlighting the big contributions they’ve made.

Pair the award with a gift

Physical awards of appreciation are made all the sweeter when accompanied by gifts or bonuses but don’t just pair the award with a cash bonus or a $20 shopping gift card. The most memorable service awards are paired with experiential gifts ranging anywhere from a classic free lunch at a posh restaurant on company dime to a free trip or vacation package. Sharing a unique experience with an employee is far more memorable than simple cash or a new blender because experiences stay with us.

Leave an Impact With Your Years of Service Coins

Years of service awards aren’t going anywhere anytime soon but with the tide of new employee engagement programs and recognition programs, they need to adapt to changing times. If you want service awards that your employees are going to remember fondly, then you need to make an effort in how you award them. By keeping your awards timely and making them a unique experience, rather than a business obligation, you’re on track to make an impact.

Challenge Coins 101: Custom Coin Plating Options

Written on December 3, 2018 at 4:59 pm, by

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Designing a custom coin, you want every aspect of it to fit your specifications from the representation of your original design to the feel of a coin’s edge. Which is why at All About Challenge Coins we’re alarmed when we meet new clients with no idea what challenge coin plating is and how it changes a design. While designing a challenge coin, you’ll explore literally hundreds of different customization combinations but your coin’s plating sets the backdrop of your entire design. As one of the most influential choices you can make for a coin’s appearance, it’s vital to understand coin plating and your options.

Challenge Coins 101: Coin Plating

 

A challenge coin’s plating is the metal used for its external finish with the most common options of gold, silver, copper, nickel, black nickel or even a combination of two metals. While changing the edge can add texture to a coin and filling paint into a design can embellish details, coin plating sets the tone of a coin’s look whether you want a coin with aged and refined antique surface or a gleaming high polish. Your choice of plating will be the primary backdrop of your design and sets the metallic surface of your challenge coin whether it looks like a gold coin, silver coin, copper coin or one of our more unique options. Some designs and artwork lend themselves better to different plating options and some options can actually obscure details.

To help clients decide on their coin’s look and feel before production, we suggest taking advantage of our design services. All About Challenge Coins provides free full-color art proofs on all orders based on your instructions. Topping it off, the service comes with free unlimited revisions, allowing you to see for yourself how a design will look under different plating options before deciding.

Knowing Your Coin Plating Options

Now you understand plating and how it affects your coin’s look, let’s talk options. All About Coins offers a variety of plating choices including gold, silver, copper and nickel, which can often be further customized between gleaming high polish or classic antique styles.

High Polish Coin Plating

Our standard plating option, high polish coin plating gives the entire surface of a coin a gleaming shine that looks like newly-minted precious metal.

Our high polish options include:

  • High Polish Gold Coin Plating – Plating in high polish gold gives a coin the classic glow of a shining gold coin but can make fine details on an intricate design hard to make out. This type of plating is best suited for designs that also incorporate dark painted areas to contrast the polished gleam.
  • High Polish Silver Coin Plating – High polish silver plating creates a bright shining silver that catches light easily and is highly effective for challenge coin designs that want to replicate the look of silver currency.
  • High Polish Copper Coin PlatingJust as brightly polished as high polish silver and gold, high polish copper plating’s reddish hue actually creates that allows better presentation of textured effects and designs.

Antique Coin Plating

The most popular type of coin plating we offer, antique plating gives their metal coins a classic time-worn appearance with darker color recesses and a subdued metal surface that often gives challenge coins a look of well-aged elegance.

Our antique plating options include:

  • Antique Gold Coin Plating – By far the most popular type of plating we offer, the recessed areas of an antique gold plated coin has a warmer gold look and darker finish which is advantageous for presenting fine details and small script.
  • Antique Silver Coin Plating – Antique silver plating is significantly darker than high polish silver with an almost pewter-like finish that gives uncolored designs a classic black and white quality.
  • Antique Copper Coin Plating The color of antique copper plating creates deep dark red shadows in a coin’s recesses which can create interesting shading effect on 3D coin designs while giving a deep shading effect across the details of a 2D design.

Specialty Coin Plating

Representing some of our most unique plating options, specialty coin plating represents a collection of rare and unusual plating options that can make a challenge coin immediately standout in a collection.

These uncommon plating options include:

  • Black Metal Coin Plating – With a dull matte finish, black metal stands in stark contrast from the shining examples of most challenge coins. However, it’s dark color provides an excellent backdrop for highlighting the vibrancy of the most colorful designs and is especially good for designs incorporating our glowing enamel effects.
  • Rainbow/Anodized Coin Metal Plating – One of our most unique options, rainbow metal plating uses anodized metal to create a colorful rainbow effect on a coin that shines with a variety of different colors upon inspection.
  • Dual Metal Coin Plating Dual plating a coin means plating the surface with two different types of metals on different parts of a coin and is commonly used to accurately represent rank colors in military coins. However, the plating option is especially good for creating two-tone effects on a coin to highlight a single important part of a design or to create contrasting plated elements in a design.

Final Advice

Don’t shy away from asking any of our representatives for advice when it comes to choosing a plating style that will best match your design ideas. We’ve been in this business for a long time and our representatives have seen design and plating combinations in nearly every stripe. Picking the right plating is one of the most significant design decisions you can make for your challenge coins and we’re more than happy to help.

Designing Custom Firefighter Challenge Coins

Written on November 26, 2018 at 5:10 pm, by

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If you’ve worked as either a professional or volunteer firefighter, you’ve probably picked up a firefighter challenge coin or two from either your department or municipality. Fire departments were among the first organizations to begin adopting challenge coins from the military for their organizations and firefighter challenge coins are used today as organizational mementos by fire rescue groups throughout the country. Like their peers in the military, these coins are effective symbols of group solidarity invoking their organization’s identity and pride through unique designs. 

For some fire rescue clients, finding the right symbols to represent their firehouse on a challenge coin comes easy. But, it’s just as often a daunting task coming up with a custom design that appeals to your entire fire department. Fortunately, All About Coins has your back. This post will help walk you through advice and inspiration for designing custom firefighter challenge coins.

Drawing Inspiration From Firefighting Symbols

One of the most daunting tasks to designing any challenge coin is deciding the symbols you want on a coin. After all, a firefighter challenge coin is meant to unify and the images you choose must contain themes firefighters around a station will identify with. Luckily, firefighting has a very long history and culture surrounding its profession.

Tapping into the illustrious history and culture of firefighting can be a fount of inspiration for firefighter coins which tend to depict recognized symbols ranging from the Maltese Cross to Dalmatians along with more localized symbols or landmarks that give a fire department’s coin a localized character. In our experience, some of the most iconic firefighting symbols include:

  • The Color RedIt’s the color most commonly associated with firefighters, paying homage to both the blazes they engage and their red fire engines. It’s so iconic, “Fire Engine Red” is its own color shade
  • The Maltese Cross By far one of the most common elements found of firefighter challenge coins, the eight-pointed Maltese Cross has roots as far back as the Crusades and is used today as a symbol for the bravery and selflessness of firefighters.
  • The Fire ScrambleA grouping of firefighter tools often arrayed into the shape of an improvised Maltese Cross to represent the preparedness of firefighters. A “scramble” often includes classic fire rescue tools such as fire axes, ladders and helmets.
  • Dalmatians Once used to calm horses as they pulled fire wagons toward a blaze, Dalmatians have long been official firehouse dogs and many firehouses still keep the dogs as companions and mascots. 

Localizing Firefighter Coins

When “localizing” firefighter challenge coins, we mean picking design elements and customizations identifying a coin with specific rescue units, fire departments or individual firehouses. Localizing a coin doesn’t just include adding images of a familiar landmark or in-joke, but also paying homage to a firefighter’s specific role or responsibility. For example, firefighters specializing in handling hazardous materials often include images of stylized skeletons or HAZMAT masks to reflect their role. Adding local flair to a coin turns a coin into a distinct mark of membership and team unity, transforming a department’s coins from nondescript firefighter tokens to Fire Station 70’s unit coin or the Orlando Special Operations Unit coin.

Common elements that help to localize a challenge coin include:

  • Community landmarks: These can range from landmarks significant to the fire department or simply a major landmark in the city. For example, the New York City Fire Department coin includes a stylized shot of the Empire State Building as part of its central design.
  • A favorite firehouse mascot: As mentioned, it’s common to see Dalmatians as a fire department’s mascot but many local fire rescue organizations may also use their own characters to better reflect their locale, role, or overall philosophy as an organization. For example,
  • Any local Fire Rescue Icons: From pictures of a local firehouse or fire engine to images of a firefighter from your station in full gear, there are few ways more effective to add a localized design than to include a firehouse icon recipient will recognize as their own. While others may not recognize one fire truck from another, it’s immediately noticeable to the people who work on it every day.

Make it Your Own

More important than anything else when designing a firefighter challenge coin is to make the design a reflection of your own fire department. Firefighters develop close-knit cultures in their professions as they work together to save lives and prevent disaster and their challenge coins are more than just decorated metal, they’re a physical expression of their individual pride and duty as fire rescue workers protecting their communities.

Whether your department has created a fully-rendered sketch of a design or you have a few ideas but no idea how to put them on paper, All About Coins is happy to work with you at every step of the design process to create unique challenge coins for firefighters and other emergency workers. At the end of the day, the greatest source of inspiration will come from you and the people you work with every day but you can trust us to levy a full team of professional artists to turn that inspiration into designs that will impress.

Designing Custom Police K-9 Unit Challenge Coins

Written on November 15, 2018 at 3:54 pm, by

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The unique role and training of K-9 units give them a distinct personality focusing on the training and partnership between police dogs and their handlers. Capturing this unique bond is essential for designing a challenge coin for K-9 Units. This All About Challenge Coins design article focuses on helping you find inspiration designing a localized K-9 unit coin. 

Looking for Inspiration

 Some clients approach us with a clear idea of what they want in a K-9 unit coin, while others aren’t sure where to start but want a way to represent the identity of their unit. Whichever is the case, K-9 units can find inspiration for their designs from many sources. Ask yourself these questions as a starting point when thinking about what kind of design you want in a challenge coin.


What responsibilities does your K-9 unit fulfill?

Police dogs and their handlers are trained to work together as a team to fulfill many responsibilities including searching for illegal substances, pursuing fleeing suspects, tracking individuals, finding missing persons and detecting dangerous materials. If there’s a specific specialty or a unique role your team of handlers and canines take pride in, look for ways to represent that in your design.

How do you plan on using your challenge coins?

Think about why you’ve decided to get challenge coins for your K-9 unit. Are you looking to build team unity? Planning on using the coins for fundraising in the local community? Honoring specific canines and their handlers for outstanding service to the community? Part of the brainstorming process is answering these questions and then finding ways to reflect that in a design. A coin you design to remember a retired police dog will vary greatly in the design elements from a challenge coin designed to help raise money for your organization’s charity drive for a dog shelter.  

What does the unit say?

One of the best ways to help define what symbols or aspects of your K-9 unit are most important for a design is to simply check with your K-9 unit and crowdsource what aspects of their work or symbols they take the most pride in. From a unique slogan or in-joke around the department to unique law enforcement situations they’ve had to deal with, simply asking around can be the best way to find what’s most important around the station.

For example, a coin we designed for the Dallas Police K-9 Squad features not only an image of one of their trained german shepherds but also includes the unit specific slogan, “Committed to all, loyal to one.” Adding the slogan helps define their coin as specifically recognizing the Dallas Police K-9 Unit meaningfully identifies the coin as distinctly their unit coin.

Localize K-9 Unit Coins and Picture Dogs in 3D

It should come as no surprise that one of the most represented designs of virtually every K-9 challenge coin is a depiction of a police dog. However, a lot of K-9 units take it a step further with their coins adding images of specific police dogs from their unit to a coin’s design. This personalizes a unit’s challenge coin to a specific unit while paying homage to both the unique training of the unit and their canine partners.

For example, take a look at the challenge coin we designed for the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) K-9 Unit. Subtle design elements including the thin blue line over the U.S. flag found on the coin’s reverse are recognizable law enforcement symbols reflecting the coin’s purpose to honor CPD officers and other law enforcement officers. However, what makes the coin stand out as a K-9 Unit coin is the main design on the coin’s obverse, an image depicting one of the department’s new Vapor Wake bomb detection dogs. The image, based off a photo of a CPD police dog, resonates more strongly as a specific symbol for responsibilities of CPD K-9 officers and better honors their unique role than a coin with more general police emblems or symbols would have.

Incorporating a station’s dogs into a challenge coin is as simple as sending us images of an organization’s police dogs and asking us to make it happen. As easy as it is, choosing to depict the actual dogs K-9 officers work with every day makes a K-9 coin a much more personal manifestation of your unit’s identity. If you choose to feature an image of an actual dog on your coin, we recommend going for a 3D coin design to better bring life to a dog’s image. As you can tell from CPD coin example, it’s entirely possible to create interesting representations of a police dog even without 3D. However, going 3D creates a much more realistic depiction of the dog and it’s one of the most popular additions from our previous K-9 unit customers. 

Adapting Local Law Enforcement Symbols and Slogans

While the canine partners of the K-9 units are a specialized police group, they work together with an entire police force as part of the “thin blue line” that protects the public. Members of a K-9 unit, quadrupedal and bipedal alike, coordinate their efforts with investigators and other law enforcement units within their station. Adapting parts of a law enforcement organization’s existing emblems, badges or slogans is a good way to pay homage to a K-9 unit’s day-to-day work with other units.

Depicting images of K-9 police dogs aren’t an organization’s only means of honoring the partnership between police dogs and their handlers. Some K-9 units prefer more subtle representations of their unit’s bond with their animals, such as designs incorporating a dog’s pawprint or teeth. In some cases, customers might even send images of an actual casting of a police dog’s pawprint to reference their canine partners.

Choosing a cut-to-shape coin may be better because the option allows you to change a coin’s design to any shape or look you might want. From paw prints to police badges, choosing to cut-to-shape a coin allows customers to capture the identity of their organization through the physical shape of the coin itself.


The Choice is Yours

All About Challenge Coins receives many consistent design requests and ideas from law enforcement organizations throughout the nation, but one of the most important details we stress about our design process is the creative freedom of our customers. From color options to magnetizing coins, our services strive to help you bring your ideas to life. At the end of the day, the greatest source of creativity for your K-9 unit’s challenge coin from the culture and life of your local force. If you think you’re ready to get to work, contact us for a free quote and let us do the rest.

Have a K-9 Unit coin you’re particularly proud of? Share it with All About Challenge Coins on Facebook or Twitter!

A Brand New Blog All About Challenge Coins

Written on November 6, 2018 at 9:49 pm, by

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Know All About Challenge Coins?

We do. It’s our name and it’s been trusted for providing high-quality challenge coins for the military, law enforcement, corporations and local organizations for over a decade. Today, we’re proud to launch our new company blog as a resource for clients new and old to learn about the processes of designing custom challenge coins and learn about some of our most interesting projects.

Same Services, New Resources, Still All About Coins

We’re making a drive towards engaging our clients and providing tools to better understand the different steps of challenge coin design and to give steady resources helping bring your ideas to fruition. This is the first of many steps towards expanding our brand experience across multiple platforms to share knowledge and better serve our customers. All About Challenge Coin’s primary goal remains the same, to provide quality service and products. But through friendly advice and knowledge based on our experiences working with countless clients, we hope to build a community resource that you can use long-term and shine a spotlight on some of the most interesting projects our clients have sent our way.

Whether you need advice on how to begin an order, the differences between different customizations or just need help to set a direction for your group’s coins, we offer expert advice based on the most commonly asked questions and our own experiences helping our clients.

Keeping in Touch

While designing this new platform, we focused on providing a useful tool for both new and old clients to quickly learn about their options and find inspiration for their own

If you’re here, then congratulations! You’ve already found our website which is the best place to get in touch with us to get a quote and explore our challenge coin customizations or to start your order. But it’s also a good idea to stay up-to-date on All About Coins content by finding us on Facebook. We’ll be constantly posting interesting examples of our work to inspire and spark new ideas. We monitor our social media throughout the day and we’re more than happy to respond if you’ve got questions. 

Need to get in touch quickly? In a lot of ways, we’re still an old-fashioned company and it’s easy to talk to any of our managers or industry veterans. Just give us a call at 1-866-604-9462, or email us at info@allaboutchallengecoins.com where you’ll find expert staff who’ve worked in the industry for years.

Reconfirming our Mission

We’re confirming a commitment to our clients for providing quality products and personalized service from the moment they contact us to long after their coins are produced and delivered. All About Challenge Coins is all about crafting your custom challenge coins with great customer service and one of the most experienced design teams on the market. A unique challenge coin can unify an organization and if we can do our part to educate and equip clients with the knowledge and tools to make that special coin, we’d like to think we’ve taken a step further to accomplishing our mission.

Visit All About Challenge Coins today, and let us work with you!