Challenge coins. They sound like something you’d see on some children’s super hero television show, but that’s not at all the case. Actually they’re very popular in military circles, depicting crests and unique iconography of various units, from Army to Navy to Air Force, and are highly treasured as mementoes of their time in the service. Recently however, they’ve been making an appearance in the business and sports worlds as well, with great success.
Their origin is somewhat mysterious, but many sources pin it to World War One, when a member of the Air Force created customized coins depicting his unit’s crest as a means of team building, but in the end it served to save this particular airman’s life. According to legend, he was captured inside German boarders without identifying papers on him. Surprisingly, Americans captured him, thinking he was a German sent to spy on them. It wasn’t until he pulled out his challenge coin that they were able to verify that he was in fact American and returned him to his unit.
After that harrowing introduction, Challenge coins became something more fraternal. Military organizations still have them made, along with military pins, and it has become a popular game for one man will reveal his coin and then “challenge” everyone else to produce theirs. If anyone is found without their coin on them, they’re required to buy everyone else with their coins a round of drinks.
As of late, groups outside military circles have taken up the challenge coin tradition, creating commemorative emblems for businesses, fraternities, schools, and social clubs. Because they are meant to be customized, they’re great for any organization. From enamel to plating colors, even shape, the sky is the limit. When working out a design for your own challenge coin, consider all aspects of your organization. Think about both sides, your logo, slogans and size. With so many options, you can easily fit in everything that distinguishes your business or club.
And keep in mind that while “challenging” is still a popular activity for coin holders, they’re just as likely to be given out as awards in corporate settings these days, reflecting achievements and milestones on top of general organizational pride.
Whatever reason you choose to create challenge coins, you can’t go wrong. They’re timeless, beautiful reminders of organizations and proud mementos of achievements made in the workplace.