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Building Employee Engagement With Corporate Challenge Coins

Written on July 18, 2019 at 8:31 pm, by

Between personal branding to engaging your team, there’s more value to the corporate coin than just novelty. A sharp custom coin promotes your brand, generates word-of-mouth interest, and forms stronger bonds between both customers and your team. Not to mention, they’re a lot more interesting than another company shirt or koozie.

In this article, we’re exploring different ways our clients use corporate challenge coins to elevate their business and hopefully give you inspiration for engaging your own workplace with corporate challenge coins.

Corporate Challenge Coins as Employee Awards

In the military, challenge coins are awarded as informal honors to soldiers taking part in major operations and missions. While your business isn’t likely to have employees dodging bullets, this tradition holds strong in the corporate world with our custom coins awarded to highlight a team member’s performance or as years of service awards for long-serving workers.

Recognizing and rewarding employees for making a difference in your company can only help to encourage your staff to keep doing so. The completion of a major project, the success of a product or a strong quarterly performance are all milestone opportunities that can use award coins as individualized recognition. Though you’ll want to make sure that your award coins are localized and focused on your business in a way that’s distinct. Even more so, if you’re a branch of a larger business.

In 2011, we helped make a corporate coin for a local Burger King location design a custom challenge coin for each of their employees at the local branch.

Add Corporate Coins to Your Employee Welcome Package

Big-name companies including Salesforce and Uber use interesting welcome packages to quickly onboard new hires and introduce the company culture in a single friendly and personalized kit. Corporate challenge coins are a great item to add to an employee welcome kit since they’re not only highly personalized to your company but immediately make new staff feel included in a company tradition. 

Not to mention, a cool custom coin makes for an excellent share point about your business after an employee’s first day on the job. Compared to bog-standard items like caps, koozies, cups or shirts, a company’s corporate coin is an interesting addition to a welcome kit that’s bound to be shared and talked about. We don’t need to tell you how valuable it is to have your business promoted freely through word-of-mouth.

Corporate Challenge Coins As Years of Service Awards

Probably the most popular role businesses big and small order corporate coins for, years of service awards are one of the longest-standing business traditions to recognize an employee’s long-term dedication. Tenure-based awards help companies big and small retain employees for the long-term.

Chances are, your company already has some kind of award program in place for years of service awards and custom corporate coins make for a natural addition. But unlike bulkier trophies or plaques, challenge coins can be carried and shown off in a way that makes them physically engaging especially compared to another award on the shelf or wall. Members of a team can brandish and show off a coin in ways that’d be a little awkward with a big trophy.

Build Consumer Interest With Your Brand

Do you have a strong local following or a wide-ranging online presence? Selling branded items like shirts are a popular way to promote and build your brand. But adding a challenge coin to your promotional items can help you leverage your brand even further. Frankly, a corporate coin is interesting and unique in ways most t-shirts and other wearables aren’t. 

You talk about that cool coin you got from your favorite business. You post pictures of yourself brandishing a cool coin. You actively engage and interact with corporate coin where other promotional items are simply worn or displayed. Ultimately, a corporate coin can be used to create an active interest in your business rather than passive advertising about your brand.

Expressing Your Business

Ultimately, there’s no real right or wrong way to use corporate challenge coins. (Other than ordering them and doing nothing at all.) Designing a corporate challenge coin creates a bold and interesting company showpiece that can help build a more unique and codified culture around the workplace. Interested in expressing your company through corporate challenge coins? Shoot us a message. 

Designs big and small, AllAboutChallengeCoins is your coin source for high-quality custom coins. We’re proud of our work and have provided quality work for clients in businesses and organizations all over the world. 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 Design: 4 Details to Check Before Production

Written on July 3, 2019 at 6:34 pm, by

Whether it’s your first order or your latest order, the list of details and options going into your custom challenge coin design can be daunting. From the right colors to the right spelling keeping an eye on those details can save you both time and money. Make sure to double-check these four details before finalizing your order of custom challenge coins and you might just save yourself a hassle down the line.

Text, Font, and Typography

In the excitement of getting your coin’s look perfect, it’s all too easy to neglect spot-checking the content of your written text and typography. But making sure every word and name is perfect is going to prevent that awkward moment when Staff Sgt. John proudly reads the text of his new unit coin only to discover its dedication to Staff Sgt. Joan.

Our artists do their best with multiple spot checks through the design process to get the details right but you’ll know before we do whether or not you actually meant John or Joan on your challenge coin. Misspellings or typos that aren’t immediately apparent are difficult to catch on the production side because, for all a manufacturer knows, the coin was always meant for Joan. Go through any text you plan to include on a challenge coin with a fine-tooth comb and you may save yourself a major headache.

With AllAboutChallengeCoins, your initial quote comes with a free full-color art proof of your design including a full look at how your text or font is will look before production. Take advantage of this to make sure the spelling, font, and typography are exactly as you want it, and if it’s not, don’t forget we can fix and revise it at no charge.

Challenge Coin’s Dimensions

The actual scale of a challenge coin is one of the hardest things to picture on a challenge coin design even when you have an art proof on hand. But taking the extra effort to dig out a ruler and check how big a coin is going to look before you confirm to order will give a much clearer picture of it’ll ultimately look in your hand.

Checking your coin’s actual dimensions is especially important if you want to be sure a coin’s not too big to comfortably carry or to decide whether you’ll want it bigger for a greater visual impact. For example, making a 6” coin is sure to make an impact when you present it, but it’s a little too big for a soldier or police officer to slip into their pocket.

If you need a better idea of what things to look for when choosing the best size for your challenge coin, we’ve got a full writeup on what to look for.

Accuracy of Organization Emblems and Colors

The accuracy and details in an emblem or an organization’s color scheme are some of the most important parts of a challenge coin design that units its members. While creating an awesome visual design can take up all of your attention, don’t forget to make sure the key details that make your coin design personal to an organization are captured in full.

We use Pantone colors for all of our artwork, but not every sketch or initial design will do the same and it’s possible for colors to look different depending on lighting or viewing screen. Our advice? Compare any colors on your initial pieces before sending them in and double-check the colors on our artwork before giving the okay.

The Cost Efficiency of Your Custom Challenge Coin Order

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating or overestimating how many challenge coins you need to order. Ordering too few can lead to a cost-prohibitive reorder and make the price of each coin much higher than a larger bulk order. Order too many, and you might need to scrap the budget to deal with the initial fees. 

Right from our pricing page, factors that affect the cost of your coin order include:

  • The size of your order
  • The dimensions of your coins
  • Certain unique customizations

Our advice is to determine those factors before you order. Depending on your organization, you might already have an idea of the size of your order just by how many people are in your group. Meanwhile, your ideal coin dimensions will vary greatly on your design but the most popular size is usually 1.75” to 2.00”.

Catching up on these four details before your coin goes to production will go a long way towards avoiding the most common mistakes people make when designing and ordering their custom coins. Need more help? Our staff at AllAboutChallengeCoins have over a decade of experience working with clients to create high-quality challenge coins. If something in your design looks off, just shoot us a message and our team can get it fixed up, sometimes in minutes!

Soaring With the Patriots Jet Team

Written on June 25, 2019 at 4:13 pm, by

Playing with G-forces like a musician on the fiddle, the Patriots Jet Team soars through the sky in spinning dives and tight crossovers few can match. These aviation experts form the biggest volunteer jet team in the Western Hemisphere run by a crack team of civilian pilots and Veterans from both the Navy and Air Force.

When the team approached us to help create a unique challenge coin to reflect them, we were honored to be working with such a high-flying crew. Not to mention, pleased to be tagging along for a ride on one of the team’s signature jets.

All About the Patriots Jet Team

While gravity-defying stunts take the spotlight whenever the team takes flight, it’s not the jets and their flyboys alone who keep the show flying. Michael “Smurf” Temby, a nine-year veteran of the team, knows it takes more than pilots to do what they do.

“It’s not just six pilots,” Says Temby. “It takes a large contingent to of ground crew, support crew, musicians, photographers, technicians and more to keep us in the air.”

It takes a combined effort to do what the team does and every member of the team, including Temby, is an expert at what they do whether that’s maintenance on the jets from the team’s California hanger or piloting the jets themselves.

“I’m honored to be part of this operation. We’re all about making a difference.”

Each pilot on the Patriots Jet Team is a tested professional volunteering their time to fly the team’s six to 12 air shows each year. Since 2002, the jet team’s flown over 1500 airshows at events like the Travis AFB Air Show and Fleet Week in San Francisco, California with more than 105,000 hours of flight time.

However, the team isn’t just about throwing a great air show. The Patriots Jet Team brings their expertise to students through the Patriots Jet Team Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring the nation’s youth to apply themselves to STEM, aviation and space. Through the foundation, the team mentors young students in STEM, aviation, space travel, and more to inspire future generations of aviation experts. With almost two decades of volunteering together as a team, the jet team’s challenge coins represent a rare bond that Temby is proud to share with the members of the team.

Designing the Patriots Jet Team Challenge Coin

Apart from just making an eye-catching coin, we wanted this challenge coin to catch the awe and amazement of the crowds when the jet team takes flight and reflect the patriotic spirit of its members. Most importantly, the coin design needed to connect personally to the efforts of the team as a whole.

Temby, our main point of contact through the project, was invaluable throughout coin design. Sharing several dynamic photos taken the air shows and as the narrator, his knowledge of the team’s aerobatics and personality was an invaluable wellspring of inspiration. With Temby’s help, we set out to create 500 custom challenge coins for the Patriots Jet Team that could each member of the team could relate and feel a personal connection with.

Plating and the Coin’s Front Face

As a team coin, meant to honor the jet team as a unit, it was logical for us to plate the coin in matte gold for a classic antique look. While the high polish shown in the proof lends a brighter look, the darkened gold metal of antique plating brings out the details in the coin’s 3D image. Not to mention, its a classic metal choice for award coins meant to honor the outstanding efforts of the jet team.

For Temby, the front face of the coin might just be his favorite face of the coin as it features the awe-struck face of his granddaughter watching the team’s jets soaring in full formation over the team hanger. He gave us photos of the team in flight, his daughter, and the team’s hanger, which we then we adapted into a challenge coin design with a 3D mold.

Getting the images from a photograph molded in 3D is usually the best way to capture details like the texture of the hanger in the background or the joyful expression of Temby’s granddaughter. With the right Pantone colors, the coin has a splash of patriotic fervor on the smoke clouds behind the jets, recreating the colors of the smoke clouds from the photograph and giving the coin an extra visual pop.

The Reverse Face

Spinning the coin around, the coin’s reverse face features a dynamic shot of two pilots in their jets zooming past each other in a daring aerobatic maneuver Temby calls an “opposing hit.”

“Those planes are flying past each other at 700 miles per hour. With a closure between them that looks inches apart.”

Catching the team’s jet right in the middle of an opposing hit isn’t just a cool image to use, it says a lot about the Patriots Jet Team’s expertise while giving you a dynamic central shot of the team’s jets. Continuing to run with the patriotic theme, a flapping American flag waves in the background while the jets themselves are colored in black to create visual contrast against the bright backdrop.

In contrast with the front face of the coin, the reverse is stamped entirely in 2D to create a very stylized look to the main image and give us more room to play with the colors on both the jet and the flag backdrop. The end result leads to a much more colorful take on this side of the coin, especially compared to the more subdued design of the foundation side of the coin. If the foundation side of the coin takes pride in the team’s public works and community support, this side of the coin promotes their personal expertise and confidence as members of the Patriot’s Jet Team.

More Than Just an Air Show

One of the biggest things that struck us about the Patriots Jet Team is the inspiration they bring to the communities they visit, not only as an amazing air show but also in their role as instructors and youth members. The jet team unveiled these coins to every member after a recent show at Travis Air Force Base. Each member, Temby included, received five coins each. One for themselves and four more to coin out to people they feel deserve them the most.

“I don’t leave home without it,” Temby says. “Not even when I’m out on the water.”

Overall, we’re proud of the design and happy to hear that the team’s response to the coin design was completely positive and prouder still to find our logo flying alongside the team’s jets at their show in Travis Air Force Base where the team honored our efforts by adding our name to one of their six jets. Teaming up with the biggest volunteer-run jet team in the Western Hemisphere is by far one of the most interesting projects AllAboutChallengeCoins has done as we close the first quarter of 2019.

Interested in starting your own project with us? Shoot us a message! With a dedicated team of expert artists, AllAboutChallengeCoins will turn your ideas into stunning coin designs.

Custom Challenge Coins as Your Next Business Card

Written on June 13, 2019 at 9:13 pm, by

With plated metal and a polished finish, our custom challenge coins are finding their way into the hands of business owners as a replacement to business cards. The added weight and novelty of a coin make them one of the most impactful tools for attracting interest in your products or services. With this post, we’ve assembled what you need to know when designing a custom challenge coin as your next business card.

Information to include in a Custom Challenge Coin Business Card

The challenge coin below is just one example of many that can be used to fulfill the needs of a business card using a challenge coin. The front focuses on branding a business or its services, while the back provides the necessary contact details and information  Like a traditional business card, challenge coins are a two-sided canvas for displaying your information and the core principles of good design remain much the same. 

1. Business or Personal Branding

You’ll want a logo or other iconic representation of your business clearly on the front of your coin design. Clear brand imagery helps identify your business and create a more professional presentation for you and your services or products. Depending on your business, branding elements like a snazzy logo, mascot or personal name all make clear markers of your personal brand. The main advantage when working with a coin comes with the greater value and novelty people attach to custom coins.

2. Representation of Your Goods or Services

Running a flower shop? Include images of flora and bouquets that make up your business. Are you an artist? Create a design that showcases your original style and work. Whatever business you’re running, including a visual representation of those goods and services helps showcase your work or services. With a custom challenge coin, you can create sculpted detail and add metal-work that gives that visual representation of your business a much more impactful first-impression.

3. Contact Information (Phone, Email, Website)

The main point of a business card in the first place is to give a recipient a simple leaflet with the information they need to contact you later. You can choose to leave this information centered in a design or ringing around the edge of the coin. However, we recommend against adding a physical address to a business coin since it’ll be unwieldy to cover that content while retaining an interesting coin design.

Styling Challenge Coin Business Cards

One of the biggest advantages of using a challenge coin as a business card over traditional cardstock is it opens a new world of design and customization that can make them a much more special item for a recipient. When you’ve invested in a metal coin, people are much more likely to keep it handy. If only because it’s unique people assign a greater value to a metal coin than we would a sheaf of paper.

Compared to paper business cards, a custom challenge coin has more options for physical detail to make your presentation distinct. Customizations like 3D sculpting can give a unique molded aesthetic and a textured feel. While we often use the term “eye-catching” for good brand design, visual interest isn’t the only way to make your business and services distinctive. A textured and sculpted feel creates a more physically distinctive sense that gives your design a tactile attractiveness that’s hard to replicate on cardstock.

When picking color options for your challenge coin, less is usually more. After all, these coins are still intended to be a professional presentation of your business and services. Keeping to two or three colors keeps the color scheme simple and easy to highlight the main details. However, like with all designs, it’s going to vary depending on the personality you are trying to project. For example, an investment company might go for a more subdued coin design than say a musician.

One of the biggest advantages a challenge coin card has over traditional business cards is the ability to add practical customizations and features to the coin. Adding features like bottle openers, golf markers or multi-tools give recipients a reason to keep your coin handy after jotting your information down and increase the value of your challenge coin as a promotional item as well as a unique business card.

Getting the Word Out

A business card has to remind people of who you are and what you’re about while providing a clear line of communication to get back in touch. Well-designed, a business card connects is a networking tool, encouraging people to follow-up or get in touch after an initial meeting. However, a challenge coin card isn’t just a metal business card. They’re unique items that carry a much stronger intrinsic value. Taking advantage of that intrinsic value can help you create a more impactful impression of business or services.

In business, near everyone is working on a unique business card to make that perfect first impression. But, trading in cardstock for polished metal is guaranteed to make you much more memorable. Ready to get started? Just shoot us a message.

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.