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Challenge Coins 101: Custom Coin Size

Written on May 21, 2019 at 2:17 pm, by

Best size for a custom challenge coin? Whatever size you want. AllAboutChallengeCoins can make your order as small as a quarter or as big as a dinner platter if you ask. However, that doesn’t mean you should make a decision about your custom coin size lightly.

The coin size is a critical part of the visual impact and heft a custom coin. Not to mention, the size of a challenge coin is going to dictate how much of a design canvas you have to work with and how much your order will cost. To help people make the best decisions for their orders, let’s take a look at the most relevant factors going into your custom coin’s size.

Typical Custom Challenge Coin Sizes

The most popular coin size is usually around 1.75” to 2”. In our opinion, that range tends to give clients the best balance between design space, weight, portability, and visual impact. However, you might go smaller or bigger depending on the specific needs of the order. Some of our smallest coins have barely been bigger than a quarter at 0.75” but we’ve also made coins as big as dinner plates at 6” and more.

Designing With Size in Mind

More than just an aesthetic choice, the size of a coin is a practical concern for coin customizations and design add-ons. For example, you’d be hardpressed to get the leverage on a 0.75” coin as a bottle opener or to really get your hand around a 6” coin for the same purpose. Making your coin with size in mind from the start ensures a clean look and a well-proportioned design.

  • If you’re looking to add a bottle opener to your coin, you can’t go any smaller than 1.75” and we’d frankly recommend going to at least 2”. Any smaller than that and you wouldn’t be able to pull enough leverage to actually open a bottle.
  • If you want a custom-shape coin, going bigger is more likely to give your design the look you imagine. Remember, a challenge coin needs to stay within a square inch of scale and irregular shapes or cut-outs can leave a coin looking smaller in scale.
  • Text-heavy coins are going to need more a bigger coin if you want that text to be legible. At 1.75” you usually only have enough space for a single sentence.

Deciding the Your Coin Size

Going too big or too small with your custom coin can degrade the coin’s impact if it doesn’t suit your design. To find the right size for you, follow these guidelines to strike the right balance:

  • The more detailed a design, the bigger you’ll want to go if you want a coin’s recipient to actually see the detail. Trying a very detailed design on a small coin means a lot more planning on how to use the limited space. If you’re designing a small coin, keep the design simple with only one or two main elements to be focused on.
  • Smaller coins (any coin less than 1.75”) are cheaper to produce, letting you stretch your budget for a bigger quantity of coins. Keeping your coin’s under 2.5” also allows us to waive mold fees for orders over 300 coins.
  • Bigger coins (any coin bigger than 2”) are great for coins meant for display on a shelf or desk because the larger size lets you make more dramatic designs. However, going bigger than 2” is going to make it hard to actually carry around.

From visual impact to practical design, coin size matters and All About Challenge Coins is happy to lend our expertise to ensure your complete satisfaction with a coin’s final look and feel. Email us at if you have any questions or need more guidance on finding the best size for your custom challenge coin, with over a decade of industry experience we promise we can help. Ready to get started? Fill out our online form today for a free quote and full-color artwork of your custom coin design!

A Custom Challenge Coin for Roberts & Ryan Investments

Written on May 14, 2019 at 8:05 pm, by

Financial services are probably one of the last industries you’d expect to find military challenge coins made but Roberts & Ryan Investments, founded by Vietnam combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient Daniel Roberts, is unlike many financial service companies. The company employs a staff of service-disabled military veterans and Wall Street professionals with top-level services that support the veteran community through company initiatives and direct donations to veteran support organizations.

AllAboutChallengeCoins was approached by Roberts & Ryans to help create 300 custom challenge coins reflecting their dedication to the veteran community and their own foundation in uniformed service.

Designing the Coin

Roberts & Ryan sent us several clear ideas from the onset but with plenty of time to experiment going from one art proof to the next. From the start, the company wanted circular antique gold coins at 1.75” (our most popular coin size) with the Roberts & Ryan corporate logo prominently displayed on one side. Our goal was to create a design not only flashing the company’s distinct branding but also expressing their status as a veteran-run business and dedication to the uniformed services.

In all, we went through 16  different iterations of the coin. With some wildly differing looks and design choices from the final product. Perhaps the biggest addition to the coin design was classic colors of red, white, and blue to frame visual attention to the central designs a color border was added around the coin along with a beveled edge for added texture.

Front Design

The front of the coin focuses on expressing the Roberts & Ryan brand through the financial company’s name, founding date, and company colors. While it went through a few style changes over the course of design, it’s core look kept largely the same throughout our revisions.

The dominant part of the front design is the official company logo, a stylized double “R” with three service stripes at the center. We went through a few iterations of the logo including a plain metal version, a black color fill version and a couple of different shades of grey. But finally, we went with a blue-grey and yellow Pantone color scheme matching the colors of the original logo.

For visual continuity, the same shade of blue-grey used for the logo is also used for the color border wrapping around the coin’s edge on both sides. The company name, “Roberts & Ryan,” is placed at the top curved border of the coin, while text reading, “financial services since 1987,” wraps around the bottom of the coin highlighting the company’s years of operation in financial services. All of the border text along the edge is in raised metal to distinguish it from the surrounding color fill and make it more readable overall.

Back Design

For the coin’s back design, Roberts & Ryan branding takes a backseat to a design dedicated to honoring veterans and members of the military. Compared to the front, this side of the coin went through many more revisions from simple color swaps and text changes to entire design replacements.

The eagle, located in the center of the design, is sculpted in 3D allowing for full texture detail of each feather and giving more depth to the text reading, “We support our troops.” The flag backdrop was added, changed, removed, replaced, removed again and finally placed back into the design almost with every other proof. But in our opinion, the full-color version really adds much needed visual pop to an otherwise plain design and highlights the central eagle without overcomplicating the look of the coin.

Final Thoughts

Designing a challenge coin for Roberts & Ryan took us through many different combinations of military logos, patriotic colors, custom edges, and verbiage before finally landing the perfect final look. Expressing our client’s expertise and dedication to veterans was the goal from the start and we’d like to think we’ve succeeded. Not only does the final version display the Roberts & Ryan brand, but it also expresses the company’s long history in uniformed service and long-standing support for veteran foundations.

All in all, it’s a design we’re proud to be involved with making and we hope for the chance to make more designs like this in the future!

Interested in the specific design options we used for the Roberts & Ryan challenge coin? The AllAboutChallengeCoins blog is full of articles with detailed explanations and suggestions on how to make the best coin for your needs:


As your coin source, AllAboutChallengeCoins is proud to work with clients all over the country and abroad to create high-quality challenge coins that’ll impress. If you’re looking to jumpstart your own project, just fill our online form and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours with a free full-color art proof of your idea!

Custom Coin Plating and Color Combinations That Work

Written on May 7, 2019 at 8:51 pm, by

Feeling indecisive about a color and plating combo for your custom coin? Or maybe you need help matching a coin plating to your organization’s color scheme? Custom challenge coin design is all about making choices fitting you and your organization. But we get it, the sheer number of color and plating combinations can be overwhelming. To help, AllAboutChallengeCoins has pulled together a list of color and plating options we think naturally complement each other based on our work with other clients.

Guidelines for Coin Color and Coin Plating

The most important determinator of what color and plating options are going to look good are going to be the needs of your design. Almost every color comes in different shades and hues that can highlight, emphasize or enhance the natural look of your plating options. Knowing which colors match isn’t rocket science, but a little knowledge of color theory doesn’t hurt.

Here are a few fast and hard tips for using color and coin plating to create a unique design with your custom coins.

  • Cool colors like pastel blue, violet and typically pair well with silver while richer warm colors like scarlet and orange naturally pair well with gold plating.
  • Replace white elements in a design with a coin’s natural silver plating to create a polished metal version with an eye-catching gleam. Likewise, you can replace yellow elements in a design with gold to maintain a design’s original warmth while adding that metallic shine.
  • Illustrated designs featuring drawn mascots or characters look best when plated in black metal to highlight the black line detail of a character. These designs can look off if the plating is gold, silver or copper as the brighter plating colors won’t match the original design.

Coin Plating and Color Combinations that Naturally Work

If you’re new to custom coin design or challenge coins, we’ve written an in-depth guide to our various plating options. However, the basics are pretty straightforward, the three most common platings for custom coins are gold, silver, copper, which are further divided between classic antique plating and gleaming high-polish.

Dark Red / Gold Plating

Tony Stark had the right idea with his armor. Reds pair well with both antique and high polish gold plating alike for a classic combination that’s the gold-standard (we’re funny) of most firefighter challenge coins. With antique gold, the darker and more subdued metal creates a warm appearance when paired with red. Meanwhile, pairing high polish gold with red really let the shining gold standout, especially for line detail on logos or text. The custom-cut challenge coin pictured above shows how gold and red can especially be used to complement the heavy-linework of a design. 

Grey / Gold Plating

Whether it’s in high-polish or antique, gold plating has a warm glow that pairs naturally with neutral colors like grey. The subdued tone of a light grey enhances the natural warmth of gold plating without creating a harsher cool contrast that a pure white would. The firefighter challenge coin pictured above uses grey for the blades of the fire axes in the design, which creates visual balance against both the white and black paint used to decorate the background and edge of the coin. 

Black / Gold

Another very classic color combination, combining black and gold is one of our favorites. Black creates an incredible contrast with a high-polish gold that definitely shows detail and highlights the warmth of the gold plating. If possible, we highly recommend double-plating in black and gold to create a crisper combination between the black and gold elements.

Blue  / Silver Plating

If your artwork or design is going to involve a lot of blue, then silver plating is our recommendation. Blues have a calming and cool aesthetic that’s enhanced by silver plating especially with a bold shade like the blue and silver used by the U.S. Air Force. Meanwhile, a more pastel blue really lets the natural shine of silver standout. If your design has a logo with blue and white elements, try replacing the white elements with a coin’s natural silver plating to add an eye-catching gleam to a familiar look.

Light Green / Silver

A bold and deeper toned green can pair well with either gold or silver plating but a lighter pastel green can help tone down some of the brighter elements of a high-polish silver without taking too much away from the polished aesthetic. For a specific shade, jade along with silver has been a color pairing of jewelers for years and works for a natural pairing for a custom coin.

Bright Red/Silver

Bright and bold reds complement a high-polish very well. Silver actually has a neutral tone to it so a bright red stands out in a coin design without clashing with the plating of your coin. Add in some black for lettering or text and you’ll have an eye-catching coin with clear details.

Black / Anything

A pure black does a stellar job of providing a contrast with virtually any metal plating. A pure black can offset the brighter elements of a high-polish coin and prevent a coin from gleaming too brightly to make out specific details. For antique coins, the matte finish blends in nicely with pure black and further emphasizes the metallic details of an intricate design.

Making it Yours

Remember, these combinations and tips are guidelines and advice, not ironclad rules on what looks good. Ultimately, the decision of what parts of a design you want to emphasize or what colors in a design you want to stand out is up to you. Your design is yours and All About Challenge Coins is dedicated to helping make your ideas a reality as your coin source. No matter what combination of colors or plating you want, our team of expert designers work one to one with you to help find the best shade and color combination to capture your exact vision.

Challenge Coins 101: High-Polish vs. Antique Coin Finishes

Written on April 24, 2019 at 8:54 pm, by

In one of our last Challenge Coins 101 we explored how your challenge coin’s metal plating makes a big impact on your coin’s look and feel. But before you sign off on your coin’s metal, you need to make sure it has the right finish.  Today, we’re taking a closer look at how metallic finish mixes up the look and feel of your custom coins.

Comparing High-Polish and Antique Coins

Of the two options, high-polish coins tend to be our default option, offering a sparkling gleam that looks like a newly minted coin. High polish challenge coins are reflective and shiny, giving the metal plating option a cooler tone and making the coin itself more noticeable at a glance.

Antique coins have a much more subdued matte appearance that’s not as shiny but gives a refined and detailed appearance. Antiquing a coin leaves shadowed areas in the recesses, with the raised areas looking brighter in comparison. The darkened recesses of an antique coin are great for defining fine details and design elements. Not to mention, the aged appearance gives a warmer and more classical feel to a coin.

Choosing high polish over antique isn’t always as simple as saying one is subjectively better than the other. It all depends on your coin design and personal preferences. Deciding between the two is all part of the initial design process but All About Pins can help you weigh your options.

Design Advice for High-Polish Challenge Coins

When designing a high polish coin you want to make the most of the shining surface while finding ways to highlight fine details in the design. High-polish means there’s not a lot of natural shading on the coin’s surface so use simple designs with dark colors to create contrast and make the most important details standout.

Here are a few quick guidelines from our designers to make the most of a high polish finish:

  • Keep text recessed and color-filled: A quick way to highlight any text on a coin is to keep the words recessed instead of raised and then to contrast the text with a dark color fill. This prevents shining light from making the words illegible and the dark colors will immediately stand out against the bright metal finish.
  • Accent color-heavy designs: Paint-heavy designs take special advantage of high polish because of the gleaming surface better frames and highlights solid colors while still giving a coin a polished look. Meanwhile, paint-heavy designs can sometimes waste the extra detail you’d get out of antique plating.
  • Keep designs simple and geometric: Unless you plan to fill in a lot of color detail, you want to avoid depicting or drawing anything with small lines or too many curved surfaces on a high polish coin. The reflective surface can create light glare all over a coin and make it hard to see or notice small details like guns, faces, buildings, hair, and complicated emblems.

Design Advice for Antique Challenge Coins

Going antique helps bring out a lot of fine detail in just about any design. In many cases, an antique coin can look great without any additional color or embellishment.

Following these guidelines can help you get the best look out of a coin design:

  • Detail-heavy designs shine with antique: Because of the shadowed recesses and curves, an antiquing a coin can highlight the smallest details and curves of a complicated design to make sure it stands out and is clearly defined. Textured detail on fur, wings, stonework, and faces especially become easier to distinguish at a glance. The busier and more complicated a look, the more defined and clear it’ll look in antique.
  • Definitely go 3D: If you have a 3D design with visual depth or based on a photograph, it’s definitely going to look leagues better on an antique coin. The curves and smoothed out textures of a 3D image take full advantage of the darker recesses for clear visibility.
  • Less color is more: Using too much enamel paint with antique plating wastes the unique aesthetic you’d get. Instead, focus on highlighting specific design details such as an organizational symbol, a background element or a specific recessed area.

Make it Your Own

All About Challenge Coins offers high-quality custom coins in both high polish and antique finishes, giving our clients full license to explore design options and make each project unique. While the advice in this article is effective for many designs, every coin is unique and you have the freedom to experiment until you’re completely satisfied with how your coin looks in either high polish or antique.

Still need help? Be sure to explore our site for additional resources:

Nonprofit Fundraising With Custom Challenge Coins

Written on April 16, 2019 at 7:12 pm, by

If you’re looking for a fresh idea for your next fundraiser, designing a custom challenge coin for your nonprofit might be what you’re looking for. Compared to a traditional shirt or snack fundraisers, nonprofit challenge coins do more than passively advertise, they’re novelties and conversation starters that help you actively promote your nonprofit.

Actively Promoting Through Nonprofit Challenge Coins

Whether you’re raising money year-round or organizing a single event, selling branded merchandise to fundraise isn’t a new concept, but what sets challenge coins apart from other types of branded merchandise is its ability to raise active instead of passive awareness.

You might be asking at this point, “What is active awareness?”

Think of it this way, supporters will buy and wear a nonprofit’s t-shirt to donate to your nonprofit’s goals while keeping a tangible item for their contributions. However, that kind of branding is like a roving billboard, great for getting an organization’s name out but it doesn’t start a conversation or engage people outside of your organization.

Someone might wear a shirt as part of their daily garb but they’ll brandish a coin and talk about how they got it. Your organization and its supporters are more likely to communicate the importance of a nonprofit’s goals with a custom coin than they would simply selling shirts or snacks alone.

Thinking About Your Custom Coin Design

Starting a coin design might seem intimidating if you have no design experience but making a great coin isn’t a complicated science. Remember, your volunteers and supporters believe in your mission, methods, and personality, you just need to make your coin something they can clearly identify with your nonprofit.

When brainstorming, focus on a design that communicates the following traits:

  • Your Nonprofit’s Identity: What is the personality and tone of your nonprofit? What are its goals and methods? Take a look at existing assets, symbols or mottos that unite your supporters find new ways to incorporate them into a coin to uniquely distinguish a design with your organization.
  • Your Event or Activity: How do you plan to use these coins? You’re fundraising of course, but are these coins meant to be sold as a fundraiser item for a single event? Is this part of an annual event happening each year? Coin designs that are specific to an individual event can be much more exciting or engaging due to their exclusive nature.
  • Your Mission: Are you a food bank gathering canned food and money for the needy? Raising money to help fund cancer research? Your goals and mission are at the core of all your efforts, look for ways to express them through imagery, colors, and typography. For example, many challenge coins designed in honor of breast-cancer awareness find ways to prominently incorporate either the iconic pink ribbon or the color pink.

Look for ways to turn these three traits into concrete ideas for a design. Focus your design to create a clear identity that recipients can be proud of being a part of. At All About Challenge Coins, we’ll work with you to ensure top quality designs and artwork but connecting your nonprofit’s identity and sense of self if wholly up to you.

Engaging an Audience With Your Custom Coin

Have a custom coin design that makes you proud? Share it with the world. Shirts and bottles are common items that don’t elicit immediate excitement but challenge coins are novelties with a noticeable value and gleam. Take advantage of that spark of interest and turn it into a wave of excitement by promoting their development and involving your community.

Here are a few ideas just to get you started:

  • Host a community design contest: Everyone loves a good contest and getting your organization’s community involvement with the design of your shirt ensures that the final look connects with their interests personally.
  • Put your coin on display: We don’t need to tell you to share and promote your own fundraisers on social media and online but make sure to take advantage of the visual interest and decision-making behind your coin design. Show off your design and promote your organization by talking about what each design element represents and how your custom coin involves your nonprofit’s mission and goals.
  • Recognize Achievements: In the military, challenge coins are used as signs of recognition from ranking officers or emblems of membership between members of a unit. Carry on the tradition by using them to reward and recognize your organization’s top supporters at a fundraising event with an award ceremony. This demonstrates gratitude for their involvement and becomes a strong community talking point long after the event itself.

Designing a custom challenge coins for your nonprofit organization can give you a brand new tool for both outreach and fundraising. Still need help? Just send us a message. All About Challenge Coins has over a decade of experience working with clients all over the country and we’re more than happy to lend our expertise to make sure your design not only looks great but feels right.

Designing Custom EMS Challenge Coins

Written on April 9, 2019 at 1:51 pm, by

Like firefighters and police, EMS organizations use custom challenge coins to highlight the life-saving roles of their workers in local communities. While every EMS organization has its own stories and experiences, these design tips from AllAboutCoins can help you design a custom EMS challenge coin that’s not only unique but also captures the unique qualities of EMS workers.

Getting Started With EMS Challenge Coins

In contrast to the gung ho look of military and police challenge coins, most EMS coins have reserved designs focused on the role of EMS workers in preserving lives. However, like every coin design, every organization has its own identity and character that you’re trying capture in an EMS organization’s coin. To get started, you want to find what makes your organization different and distinct whether it simply be its work around a local community or their involvement in a major national response.

Is your coin being awarded in recognition of outstanding service? Is it a unit coin for every EMS worker who took part in a specific operation or disaster response? For example, an EMS coin awarded to a paramedic’s work during hurricane response might list the name of the storm and the city they worked in. Considering why you’re coming up with a design in the first place will help you build a roadmap leading to the final design by setting what principles or achievements your design will highlight.

Once you’ve established a purpose for your coin, it becomes much easier to build a design that reflects your EMS organization and its core identity. Let’s take a look at common design elements and images that resonate on a custom EMS coin.

Adapting EMS Symbols

A good EMS challenge coin expresses the lifesaving role of EMS workers at a glance while also communicating the core identity of an EMS organization. As paramedics, ambulance operators and emergency dispatchers, EMS coin designs often involve symbols and tools of healing.

Some of the most iconic symbols of EMS organizations include:

The Star of Life

Painted onto every ambulance, the blue six-pointed Star of Life is the most iconic symbol of EMS workers not only in the U.S. but internationally as well. In the U.S., only EMS organizations and professions are allowed to use the Star of Life as a symbol making the icon an immediate EMS identifier. Most clients keep the standard light blue you’d find on an ambulance but it’s popular to find ways to customize the Star of Life by overlaying other symbols such as an American flag or a black band in honor of the dead.

The Staff of Asclepius

Borrowed from ancient Greek legend, the serpent-entwined Staff of Asclepius is a long-held symbol of healing often found at the center of the Star of Life and used as an international symbol of healing by organizations like the World Health Organization. Nearly every EMS client we’ve worked with includes the staff as part of their EMS coin design. With that in mind, the quickest way to distinguish your coin is to find new ways to draw the staff through a unique color scheme, custom artwork or a dual-plated effect. It’s popular to put the staff at the center of a coin so drawing or creating a 3D image of the staff can really make the Staff of Asclepius pop as your central focus.

The Caduceus Staff

Look familiar? The Caduceus Staff is one of history’s oldest cases of mistaken identity, with many people mistaking it with the Staff Asclepius. All the same, the twin-serpent staff of Hermes is a core symbol of medicine and many EMS organizations adopt the Caduceus Staff as an icon of their responsibilities alongside the Star of Life. Since EMS workers in the military such as members of the US Army Medical Corps or the 4th Medical Battalion are most likely to use this symbol as an emblem. Because of this, coins with the Caduceus Staff tend to have striking and aggressive designs more commonly associated with law enforcement or the military.

Personalizing Custom EMS Challenge Coins

EMS symbols are great ways to immediately identify your coin you or your group as an EMS organization but its important to find ways to personalize a coin as distinctly yours. Simple additions like adding your organization’s name or slogan are quick ways to identify a coin with your group but scrawling your organization’s name on a coin isn’t much more exciting than a name tag.

Our advice is to look for activities or projects your organization specifically took part in. For example, EMT units and other EMS organizations that took part in recovery efforts after disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the California wildfires often include images or designs inspired by the event such as a stylized hurricane symbol. Incorporating elements that only members of your organization would be familiar with would be another way to give your coin a more personalized flavor. Look around. Are there tools or unique elements that you and your organization use every day that most people wouldn’t recognize? EMTs who often respond to car accidents could find a way to include the jaws of life in their design. A paramedic could use have a photo molded in 3D of one of their actual ambulances. Your options for personalizing an EMS coin are really only limited by what elements are core to your organization.

Still, need help with your EMS challenge coins? Shoot us a message! From military EMS workers to municipal paramedics, we’ve helped clients create high-quality custom coins for over a decade. Trust us to help you build the right coin for your team.

Designing Custom Police Challenge Coins

Written on April 3, 2019 at 9:12 pm, by

With many military veterans finding law enforcement a natural career choice after service, it’s no surprise both federal and local police organizations quickly adopted their own custom police challenge coins. In today’s design article, All About Challenge Coins is focusing on inspirations for local police challenge coins to best capture the unique identity or role of your law enforcement organization.

Getting Started With Police Challenge Coins

Only you and your fellow police officers know what exact aesthetic or coin type is best for representing your force. So think about your police force and what these coins are going to represent or mean when you hand them out. Are these coins for the entire police department or representing a specific unit? Do you want a quiet and stoic design that honors an officer’s commitments and responsibilities? Or maybe you want a fun edgy design expressing your unit’s morale and expertise?

These questions will help identify what makes your department or role in the police force unique and make deciding the exact design options or customizations for your police challenge coin much easier. Try to remember through the design process why you’re designing challenge coins for your police department. For example, a challenge coin you’ve designed to honor a fallen officer will have a much more reserved look than a coin you design to give away at a department fundraiser party.

Once you’ve got an idea of how you want to use your coins, we can start working on your design’s specifics.

Common Police Coin Design Elements

Police challenge coins honor law enforcement for their service, represent the pride of their profession and reminds officers of their responsibilities. Of course, finding the right symbols officers identify with can be a challenge. Fortunately for you, hundreds of police and law enforcement organizations come to us each year and we’ve noticed more than a few common elements that can make it instantly identifiable with law enforcement while still maintaining a department’s unique identity.

  • The Color Blue: Blue has been the official color of law enforcement for over a century so it’s little surprise many police challenge coins include blue design elements. While blue is near ubiquitous among police challenge coins, how you decide to add or incorporate blue in your design sets it apart and makes it a much stronger symbol. We’ve found it popular among clients to add a single line of blue either in the center or as a large ring around the edge of a coin in reference to the phrase, “the thin blue line.”
  • Police Badges:  A long-rooted sign of authority and respect with as many looks as there are municipalities, unique police badges are issued to nearly every department making them great additions to a coin design as a symbol to unify officers. Many departments want their badges featured as a central design point and often pair them with a department/unit slogan.
  • Police Equipment: From the standard sidearm to handcuffs, there’s more than a few items on the equipment list that are iconic with law enforcement. If you want a quick way to identify a unit’s specific responsibilities, featuring some of your group’s most iconic equipment or tools is a simple but impactful way to make a coin specific to your unit. For example, a lot of K-9 Units come to us with designs featuring a favorite police dog from the department and SWAT Teams love to highlight their military tactics by featuring assault rifles and riot shields.
  • Archangel Michael: The Archangel of protection, the Christian Archangel Michael is a common symbol on police challenge coins. From traditional mural-style art to highly-stylized illustrations, many departments throughout the country like to take their own original artistic spin on the archangel.

Localizing Custom Police Coins

Knowing what symbols or designs other police departments use is5 well and good, but you want your coin to be unique to your department. It’s time to find ways to localize your design and to identify with their recipients not just as police challenge coins, but their police challenge coins.

One tip we use for nearly every police coin is to look for ways to incorporate local landmarks or familiar community scenes from your police department’s community. Adding these scenes to a coin not only builds a stronger connection to a community and personalizes it to your department’s role as a community’s protectors. Additionally, instead of using generic or broad police symbols, make room for highly specific emblems, in-jokes, names or plain memes that only officers around a specific station, unit or task force would understand. You want your police coins to represent your unit or officers specifically and Little touches like this make a coin much more personal and identifiable to your local force.

For example, look at this proof of a coin design we made for the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police, featuring the Talmadge Memorial Bridge and honoring their Mobile Field Force. The coin was produced in a high-polish sandblasted gold with heavy blue elements framing the edge of the coin and the police emblems. The bridge, located at the center of the design on one side, is an iconic community monument any local would immediately recognize making it perfect for representing the force’s local identity. Additionally, the lightning bolt shield emblem is a unique symbol used solely by the Mobile Field Force, honoring the Mobile Field Force’s responsibilities within the community. The end result is a highly personalized challenge coin, which honors the officer’s profession, connects with their specific community and ultimately identifies as a unique symbol of their position and organization.

By now, you probably already have a few ideas of how you’d like your coin but if you need more help to get started you can check we’ve collated a number of our favorite police challenge coins to help inspire your coin design. You’ll notice many of them look similar, but every one of them has a unique touch that makes them special to each police department.

The Choice is Yours

Following these design tips and finding an expert manufacturer with years of experience (Hint: We’ve been at this for over a decade) will ensure your coin design not only looks great but looks right for your law enforcement organization. From color options to custom shapes, All About Challenge Coins is your coin source for expert design and quality service. Request a free quote from us today to get started!

Challenge Coins 101: 2D vs 3D Coins

Written on March 19, 2019 at 8:50 pm, by

What’s the difference between 2D or 3D coins? When should you order a 2D coin versus a 3D coin? The topic isn’t exactly common knowledge, we know and that’s why this week’s Challenge Coins 101 will explain the differences and get you up to speed on the best designs for each.

The Differences Between 2D and 3D Coins

The big difference between 2D and 3D coins comes down to the number of raised and recessed levels on a coin’s surface. A 2D coin only has two levels, one raised level over a lower recessed level, which means most coin designs will look like flat images. Meanwhile, 3D coins have infinite levels of raised and recessed detail, allowing for sculpted images and rounded edges with more realistic depth on a coin’s metallic surface. If that sounds confusing, there are a few simple ways to quickly differentiate between the two. Rounded surfaces on a design or slopping shapes on the coin? A 3D coin? Sits flat when stacked? A 2D coin.

When is it best to order a coin in 2D?

When it comes to 2D coins, you can’t create as much detail or depth as you could with 3D coins but they are suited for adding unique customizations that can be essential to your design including:

  • Adding Color to Challenge Coins: One of the biggest features of 2D coins is the ability to easily add color to a design. While it’s not impossible to add color to a 3D coin, the results are often very subtle and require much more precise planning that doesn’t always create the best result. Meanwhile, the recessed areas on 2D coins are perfect for filling in color with enamel paint for designs like flags or designs by organizations with iconic colors like red for firefighters or blue for police officers.
  • Smaller Coin Sizes: Visual elements and details remain distinct on a 2D coin even when going for lighter and smaller coin sizes. On 3D coin designs with tons of complicated details, we’ve noticed smaller details become lost or hard to distinguish when attempted on a smaller design.
  • High Polish Plating: High-polish coin plating is very popular with our customers and it looks best on simple 2D coins where reflected light won’t hide details or busy up the design. On a 3D design, the sloping and curved angles can cause light to gleam over details.

What type of designs looks best with 2D coins?

While any design can be made in 2D or 3D, there are a few design concepts or objects that we recommend ordering as a 2D challenge coin instead of 3D, including:

  • Simple Illustrated Art or Mascots: Illustrations, whether they’re penciled, inked or painted, look best when they’re 2D coin designs to keep the clear line detail and stylized nature of illustrations. Things like cartoon mascots, drawn characters or other illustrated concepts tend to have most of their details and depth already as 2D concepts. 
  • Colored Flags and Emblems: As mentioned, adding color is one of 2D’s biggest advantages and if you want your organization or group’s emblems in full-color, then 2D is the way to go. 
  • Text-heavy designs: Written words, slogans or phrases are 2D by nature and lack clear depth or detail that will good advantage of a 3D mold. 
  • Simple Color Logos: Here’s a good rule to follow, the simpler the logo, the better it’ll look on a 2D design. Memorable logos like McDonalds “M” or the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head, use bright colors or definite shapes to draw attention and they look great as 2D designs since they’re inherently simple and instantly recognizable.

When is it best to order a coin in 3D?

For 3D coins, you can create designs with more depth and layered texture, such as statues, mascots, buildings or emblems. Overall, 3D coins look best in realistic designs or images with both depth or texture and are especially suited for customizations such as: 

  • Cut-to-shape Challenge Coins: Cut-to-shape coins are challenge coins in any shape or size a client might want whether that be a square, a symbol, or any other design. While both 2D and 3D coins can be cut-to-shape, 3D coins can take advantage of the new shape ton mold new details on a coin.
  • Antique Coin Plating: Because 3D coins have so much sculpted depth and sculpted edges, antique plating looks especially good as a way to bring out highlighted details and create visual depth in the recesses of a design. 
  • Larger Coin Sizes: Big coins give more room to highlight finer details and take the best visual advantage of a 3D design’s sculpted elements and rounded parts.

What type of designs looks best with 3D coins?

A good rule of thumb to follow with 3D coin designs is to always start with a photograph. Any design based on a photo of an actual object, vehicle, building, person, animal or view automatically has loads of physical elements and visuals best reproduced in 3D for a realistic effect.

Here are a few design concepts we think look best for 3D coins:

  • Buildings and Structures: If you want a coin based on a real-life building or vehicle, then 3D coins are your best shot for capturing the textured details. Stone or brickwork especially have a lot of carved or textured elements that look best in 3D.
  • Photorealistic or Highly-Detailed Art: Art designs leaning towards photorealism or fine detail with lots of shading can take advantage of the extra depth and visual composition.
  • Realistic Objects: Objects in real life have natural curves and physical irregularities like rounded edges or curved recesses you can only recreate with a 3D mold. For example, elements like ruffled fur, rounded columns or curved metal plates can only have their unique visual textures showcased in 3D.
  • Complex Logos or Emblems: Highly-detailed or complex symbols or organizational icons look good on 2D coins but they look great on sculpted 3D coins. With 3D, you can bring out the natural detail work and visuals of a complex emblem or coat-of-arms, especially if it involves an animal or mascot shape with carved or sculpted elements.

When to order 2D vs 3D challenge coins?

Choosing between a 2D or 3D coin isn’t as cut and dry as saying one type is inherently better than the other. Like many options, it often depends on your intended design and the other unique customizations you might want on a coin but a good rule of thumb to follow is that the more detailed or realistic a design, then the better it will likely look in 3D. Whereas, simpler designs with defined shapes or colorful details will want to look to be represented on a 2D coin.

However, the choice isn’t black and white. One happy compromise many clients chose is getting both 2d and 3D on a single coin design with 2D on one side and 3D on the other. This allows you to keep any essential colors or organizational text while also taking advantage of the additional detail and texture of a 3D coin. Depending on your design, you could even split a coin into 2D and 3D sections to get the best of both worlds on a single design.

At All About Challenge Coins, we offer high-quality challenge coins in both 2D and 3D and we love working individually with each client to ensure that each product is exactly how they want it. No matter which type of coin you want, we’ve got the tools and expertise to offer the highest-quality products for your custom challenge coins.

Ready to get started? Just ask for a free quote and send us your designs so we can help you discover whether 2D or 3D will work best for you.

5 Law Enforcement Fundraising Ideas

Written on March 14, 2019 at 4:55 pm, by

Law enforcement organizations and police departments receive funding and support from both federal and municipal government to protect the public and maintain peace in their communities. However, from community programs, support for families of fallen or just new programs, many departments turn to community fundraising for activities outside of their operational budget.

Custom Challenge Coin Fundraising

Try hosting a custom challenge coin fundraiser for your police department, it’s a quick way to fundraise while offering people a tangible item for their involvement and support. Nearly every part of a law enforcement challenge coin can be customized allowing you to create unique challenge coins for any event or cause. Most importantly, custom police challenge coins are a great way to define your organization’s character and what they stand for. 

At AllAboutChallengeCoins, starting a quote is free and we offer free full-color artwork and design services for your coin’s custom look. If you need help organizing a fundraiser, visiting our pricing is a good place to start exploring options.

Run a Bailout

A fun game to play with the local community, bailouts are a fundraising game with a simple set of rules. Simply, place a “jail cell” in a popular location such as a local mall, shopping center or park and “imprison” a local celebrity or prominent sponsor. Set a fundraising goal for the community to donate for your law enforcement organization’s cause whether it’s for new equipment or ongoing programs. The fundraising goal serves as the prisoner’s “bail” letting friends and family donate toward the fundraising goal to bail them out their predicament. If you want to make a proper contest of it, open a competing fundraising goal for people to donate into to keep their friends locked up instead.

Police 5K

One of the most classic and popular types of fundraisers, running a 5K (pun intended) rallies a community together in ways few other fundraising events can accomplish. Not to mention, the shorter distance makes it accessible for both the athletically trained and untrained alike. While planning a route and organizing months ahead of time requires more logistics on your part, individual participants and attendees can quickly mobilize to help you achieve fundraising goals either in support of a charitable cause or just to replace aging equipment.

One tip to make a 5K more appealing is to offer customized completion medals or race coins as an achievement incentive for participants. It’s not unheard of for participants to enter a 5K or marathon solely because they thought the design of an event medal or race coin was unique or eye-catching.

Doughnut Eating Contest

For better or worst, law enforcement organizations are inextricably tied to a diet of black coffee and doughnuts. Your organization might as well take advantage of the reputation by hosting an eating contest at the local doughnut shop. You or a few officers on the force probably do know a local shop or two who’d be more than happy to help participate and maybe even donate food for the event just for the publicity. If you’re looking for a take on the idea that’s more active, try combining it with a running event in the same vein as the Krispy Kreme Challenge where participants will need to run an obstacle course before finishing a dozen donuts and running back.

Grow a Beard

Most law enforcement organizations have grooming policies preventing officers from growing beard or any facial hair, but anything for a good cause! Let officers forgo the razor for a month with a Beard For Bucks campaign, allowing male officers to grow a beard as long as they donate to the benefit of a cause or charity of choice each month or week of their scraggle. This can also be opened to the public by allowing individuals to donate in the name of an officer’s beard or simply help spread the word.

Even if an officer can’t or doesn’t want to grow a beard, it’s still possible to get involved with this concept by carrying or selling event challenge coins in solidarity or wearing patches that resonate with the charity or cause behind the event.

Localize Your Law Enforcement Fundraisers

Whether you’re fundraising for new equipment, raising money for a fallen officer’s family or just supporting a cause you believe in, think about events or fundraisers that are in touch with your municipality and engaging with the public. However, make sure it’s an event your officers and staff can jump behind. Fundraisers thrive on the enthusiasm and interest of both the officers involved and the public, make sure it’s an event both the public and your department can enjoy.

Rethinking Employee Years of Service Awards

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

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 and recognizes long-term involvement with a company. Tenure-based awards reflect well on company culture and increase employee loyalty but to reach their full potential, you need to understand and value the years of service award as part of a broader employee engagement program. 

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 key 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.