The right army challenge coin design can make a lasting impression. Discover our top tips for creating a design you’ll be proud to show off.
Challenge coins have a rich history dating back to Ancient Rome. They are often associated with the military and commemorate big events, units, special accomplishments, and more. Even though most people associate these coins with the military, they aren’t officially recognized by them. This means that coins are instead created by units, companies, and even individuals.
Anyone can create a challenge coin to commemorate an event or honor a person. If you’re thinking about creating your own Army challenge coin, keep reading. We’re giving you five essential design tips to help you create the perfect challenge coin.
1. Tell a Story
The goal of a challenge coin design should always be to tell a story.
Maybe it’s the story of a unit, a specific deployment, or a location. Challenge coins can even honor a specific soldier or commemorate the date of an event. Before you start thinking about what your coin will look like, decide on the story you want to tell.
When you start utilizing other design tips on this list, you’ll have a better idea of what you want to focus on. This will also make it easier to communicate with a designer or artist about potential images and text for your coin.
Your story doesn’t need to be overly complicated. In fact, it’s usually best to keep it brief. If it is too broad, it can be tough to choose a specific detail to focus on when designing your challenge coin.
For instance, rather than trying to create a coin focused on a soldier’s entire military career, you could choose a single accomplishment. You could also focus on the individual by including a picture and the dates they joined the military and when they retired.
Either of these options will allow you to keep your image simple and the text short. We will go into more detail about why this is important later in the post.
2. Start with an Image
Once you decide on the story your challenge coin will tell, the next design decision you need to make is what image you will use.
Most military challenge coins feature a picture or illustration in the center of the coin. It dominates the space, providing a focal point around which the text and other design elements are centered. Popular images include flags, aircraft carriers, unit logos, and the logos for various branches of the military.
But when it comes to custom challenge coins, the options you have for choosing an image are endless. As long as your image isn’t too large to fit on a coin or too detailed to come across clearly in the small space, you can make it the focus of your challenge coin.
Your chosen image could be a picture of military equipment, like an airplane or a ship, a building, a logo, or any other image. You could even include an illustration of a person’s face. You can also create a unique design, such as a caricature of a mascot or a sketch of an important building.
Depending on the size and type of images you choose, you may be able to shrink them down and include more than one on your coin. For instance, an image of a person or piece of equipment superimposed on an image of a flag or a map.
3. Make Your Design Pop with Color
While some military challenge coins are colorless and left in the color of the chosen metal coating such as bronze or silver, color can be a great way to make your design pop.
With such a small amount of space to work with, a few touches of color can help certain elements stand out from the rest. They create definition between shapes that make it easier to see the details of your image. While you can use several colors in your design, beware of going overboard. On a small coin, too many colors can make your design cluttered and tough to read.
In addition, complementary colors can help make your coin more aesthetically appealing.
4. Keep it Short
The image you choose for your challenge coin may be the focal point, but the text you choose is just as important.
Whether you choose to include a unit name, a date, or other important text, it’s best to keep your message short. Too many words mean you’ll need to use a smaller font, which can be tough to read on a small coin.
If you decide you need more words to get your message across, reduce the size of your chosen image instead of trying to squeeze everything onto your coin.
5. Don’t Neglect the Back
Once you’ve decided on the perfect design for the front of your challenge coin, it’s time to consider the space on the back. Leaving the back of your coin blank can leave your coin looking unfinished.
One idea for the back of your challenge coin is to include a single word or phrase. While the front of your coin might be more decorative with images and text, a less complicated back can call attention to your message.
Another option is to continue your design onto the back, making it as unique as the front of your coin.
Designing Your Own Army Challenge Coin
Now that you have a few tips for designing your own Army challenge coin, it’s time to get started.
No matter the type of coin you’re looking to design, we can help. Check out the different types of challenge coins we produce to start searching for the right options for any design elements you have in mind.