Designing Your Own Custom Challenge Coins: Tips and Inspiration

Designing a custom challenge coin is more than aesthetics; it’s about encapsulating a story, mission, or memory. Begin by identifying the essence you want to convey and finding inspiration from anecdotes, mission statements, and logos. Your coin’s perceived value will depend in part on its dimensions. Larger coins allow for more intricate designs but may be more challenging.


After you have a clear concept for your design, you should collaborate with a coin-maker to produce an illustration that perfectly conveys your message. The design of custom challenge coins holds all the visual information, so it’s essential to make sure they’re custom and one-of-a-kind. Avoid using clip art or other pre-made images, which can be off-putting and distract from the meaning of the coin. The metal in your challenge coin will also affect its final look and feel. Pick a material that embodies your values and enhances the intended aesthetic. Silver and gold are ideal for giving your coin a luxurious touch, while brass and copper are more reasonably priced options.

When designing your coin, you must decide whether to add color. Although military challenge coins are often left in the natural metal coating, adding color can make certain elements stand out. However, it’s essential to remember that only a few colors can overwhelm the coin and make it look crowded and cluttered. Another way to make your challenge coin unique is by choosing an unusual shape or adding additional features. For example, you can add a 3D design or textured edges to your coin. It makes handling it more exciting and can help it stand out.

Size and Shape

A challenge coin is a great way to show pride in your organization, and much thought goes into designing them. To start, you’ll need to decide on a size. It is based on your desired level of detail and your practicality in portability. Smaller coins may be less convenient for daily carry, while larger ones can allow for more intricate designs. Next, you’ll want to consider the purpose of your coin. Are you celebrating a particular event or recognizing members of your organization for their accomplishments? For example, a sailing club may design a challenge coin with any mottos or dates associated with the group to commemorate its 50th anniversary.

Once you know your coin’s purpose, you can narrow down other design elements. Logos, designs, and photographs are all great choices for the center of your coin, and they can help people immediately identify with or connect to your organization. You’ll also want to consider the plating and finish of your coin. These affect the coin’s overall appearance and feel but can also give your design a distinctive touch. For example, silver and gold coins are more expensive than brass or copper, but they add elegance to your design.


While visuals are essential, the text in your challenge coin design is also important. Generally, the coin should only feature enough text to communicate your purpose clearly, but not so much that it distracts from the overall look and feel of the piece. The most commonly included type of text is a unit name or date. Still, it could be anything from an event code to a specific date commemorating a significant accomplishment. Consider adding color as the final touch on your coin. Whether you opt for hard or soft enamel, adding color will give your custom coin a unique look that makes it stand out. The important thing is to be clear about the type of look you’re going for and what kind of color you need. It’s helpful to use specific descriptive words rather than vague phrases like “make it pop.”

While many people associate challenge coins with the military, they have become increasingly popular among police departments, fire stations, and businesses to honor employees and celebrate special events. The fact that you can customize your challenge coin’s size, shape, and metal allows you to create a piece uniquely representative of your organization. If you’re stuck for inspiration, consider looking at existing coins that represent your industry or purpose and analyzing their design aesthetic, layout, and use of colors.


There are many different add-ons available to customize your challenge coin. These include custom edging, 3D elements, and spinner coins. The add-ons you choose will help your design stand out and make it unique to your organization or event. When selecting add-ons, it is essential to keep in mind that adding too many extra details can overwhelm the coin. Another way to create a unique look for your challenge coins is using a custom shape. The standard challenge coin is round, but several other shapes can be used. Shapes such as a shield, a helmet, and even the dorsal fin of an airplane can provide a creative flair for your coin.

Finally, you can also choose a unique texture for your coin. Embossed, oxidized, and textured metals all provide a different feel for your coin. They can make your coin more tactile and enjoyable to hold and highlight certain design parts. When designing a challenge coin, it is essential to think about the purpose and theme of the coin. Researching existing challenge coins is a great place to start for inspiration, but it is also necessary to be original. Look for inspiration from outside your industry, such as visiting museums or analyzing historical coins.

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