What Are Challenge Coins?

Posted by E-AwardsMaster | Motivation

Challenge coins date back as far as the Roman Empire when they were handed out to soldiers to commemorate their achievements. More recently, they started to become popular during World War I where a popular story arose of an air pilot who was captured and stripped of everything except for his challenge coin. When attempting to return to American forces, he was captured by the French and was thought to be a German. To prove his allegiance, he showed his executioner his challenge coin and was spared. Instead of a bullet to the head, he was given a bottle of wine. From there, challenge coins have become a big part of military recognition.


One use of challenge coins is to show proof that a member belongs to an organization. When challenged, a person just needs to show their challenge coin to prove that they belong to the group. Challenges are usually loudly announced, in which case a member will be forced to show their coin publically to prove that they aren’t an infiltrator. This helps morale and makes members more trustworthy of each other, but has been known to do the exact opposite when challenges create grudges.

The military uses them as an honor system. They are awarded to soldiers that have made an achievement within the military. There are game’s that are designed around the coins, such as stealing another member’s coin which forces them to buy a drink for the thief. Sometimes, everyone will be asked to show their coin and the highest ranking coin will be bought a drink by lower ranking officials. Of course every unit has their own games with the coins, but this shows one use for them.


Challenge coins can be made from any number of materials, making them either valuable for sale or only valuable to the holder. Most coins will be made of zinc-alloy castings or die struck bronze since these are cheap materials that allows them to be mass produced. However, some can be made of anything as valuable as 24 carat gold. They will be engraved with some sort of insignia for the group, as well as words that have some sort of significant meaning.


Challenge coins are a cool way to award successful members of an organization. They have a rich history and are a bit different than standard awards. While commonly used in the military, they can be useful in any group.

Motivating your workers is important for any business, but finding the right way to do it can be difficult. It can be difficult to purchase plaques or big trophies all the time for employees that are a valuable asset to the company, but perhaps there’s an easier way. One low budget route is to make certificates, but these don’t mean much and are just a piece of paper. The best most inexpensive solution is to show employee gratitude through lapel pins.

What Are Lapel Pins?

Lapel pins are small pins that can attach to clothing items. They are commonly used in the military, as you see high ranking officials with patches and lapels all over their uniform. It’s usually a small piece of customized metal or plastic with a pin on the back so that it’s easy to attach. They work well because they are full customizable and cheap.

Benefits of Lapel Pins

For starters, we previously mentioned that they were cheap. You can buy them in mass quantities without shelling out a lot of money. This means that even low budget organizations can afford them.

They are also constantly displayed when your employees wear them. This keeps them motivated, and most of all it makes coworkers more likely to pick up their slack so that they can try to earn one as well. It will show that your company does value individuals that work hard, and the visibility will spread that message like wildfire. Not to mention that clients and customers will see the pin on their work clothes and know that they’re being handled by a competent employee.

Most importantly, they can be used as milestones. Many organizations have pins that display how long the employee has been working with the company. You can either have them as a yearly rewards, or maybe certain milestones such as a year, three years, five years, and ten years.


If you want to go with something simple yet appreciative for your employees, then choose lapel pins. They mean a lot more than a little piece of paper and will last as long term motivators. They stay attached to clothing so they’re hard to lose and are quite durable. They survive washers and dryers when purchased from a quality vendor.

It’s a basic human need to be given appreciation when it is due. Everyone in the workplace is contributing to the group’s goals, and some of those people are putting their heart and soul into it. Those are the people that employers should pinpoint and recognize.

There are two forms of recognition. The first way to recognize an act is to notice it by identifying and realizing when an individual has gone above and beyond their job description. Without the right frame of mind, it’s easy to miss these events and that can be damaging to their motivation. The second form of recognition is a bit more important but stems off of the first form — physical gratitude. This is when you offer some way of letting the employee know that their hard work is appreciated. This is best done through employee awards and employee recognition plaques.

Benefits of Employee Recognition

Aside from making your employees happy, there are benefits to the organization by making an effort to show gratitude for their achievements. For starters, you show the employee that they have value to the company. This motivates them to continue to work hard. When ignored, employees tend to slowly tire out and will steadily decline in performance. They won’t get the basic human need of appreciation and will go where they can find it.

You also help create work relationships between leaders of the organization and employees. By offering an award, you are showing that you pay attention to their efforts. This helps form a work bond between the supervisor and staff members, which is vital to keep a smooth running organization going.

Employee recognition is also a major communication method. While you may be recognizing a certain individual or group or people within the organization, you are sending a grapevine of messages to other staff members. It shows that hard work pays off, and that acts as motivation for other members of the group as well. They want to be appreciated, and so they’re more willing to work hard to gain that appreciation.

You also create a higher amount of loyalty to the company when offering an award. It’s less likely that someone who has just achieved an award with your company is going to forget about that milestone and head off to work for one of your competitors. This creates a lower employee turnover rate, which actually saves money in the long run. Training employees over and over again isn’t cost effective as they are less efficient at first, and it costs company resources to train them. Doesn’t it make more sense to just thank the ones you have?


Go above and beyond for the people that work hard for your organization each day. Don’t just give them a “thank you,” but actually show them that they are worth your time and give them some sort of award. Plaques work best since they are easily displayed, but there are plenty of other options out there.

elegant plaques

Being recognized for your hard work is important to anyone. As an organization leader, it’s your job to motivate the group and show them that their efforts matter. This can be done through awards. While there are many options to choose from, you may want to consider awarding them with a plaque. Plaques are a symbol of long term recognition and motivation for the individual, and serve a variety of benefits past the initial granting of the award. Here are some of the benefits that can help your organization when you use plaque awards to show gratitude towards your members or employees.

Personalized Engraving

The cool part about plaques is that they are typically engraved on. Unlike other forms of awards, the main component of the award is the engraving, and that’s going to be what everyone focuses on. This is your chance to write something sweet and memorable for the hard working individual. You’re also able to put their name in large letters, showing that it was personally designed for them. Most plaques will also feature an engraving of something meaningful to the company, acting as a reminder of the group as a whole.


The main reason that anyone would want to receive a plaque award is so that it can be mounted directly on a wall or door. Almost every other kind of award can’t be directly placed on the wall, and requires a shelf or some sort of assistance to be mounted. Professionally designed plaque awards have little notches in the back to make it easy to hang them up. This benefits both your organization and the individual.

If hung at home, the individual has a constant reminder that the organization appreciates their hard work. It can be displayed somewhere easily seen, so that they view it on almost a daily occurrence. The plaque award will be a daily dose of motivation and inspiration, and you’ll see a continued drive in their efforts as a result.

On the flip side, plaques can also be mounted in the work place. Some employees will choose to place them on the outside of their door if they have a personal office, but they can also be mounted on a specific recognition area. Most commonly you hear about employee of the month walls, which show the picked employee for the past few months or maybe even just show the most recent employee. This motivates workers to try and get themselves up on the wall so that they get recognition throughout the organization and from clients and customers.


Plaques are easy to personalize and can be put in plain site so that the individual and others can easily see it. Being mounted, it reminds everyone that the organization does show gratitude to it’s hard workers. An engraved plaque will promote long term commitment with the group, and show employees that they are valued. Show your workers or members that they are a valued part of the team.

Elegant trophy ball

Recognition is one of the driving forces behind motivation. Being recognized for a job well done is enough to keep you going, and motivates you to work hard at what you do. A lack of recognition does the exact opposite, making you feel unappreciated and demotivated to work as hard as you do. One way to reward those in your organization who deserve recognition is to offer them either a trophy or statue award, showing that you appreciate their drive and energy and congratulate them on their successes for the group.

Why Pick Trophies or Statues?

The simplest way to thank someone is with a certificate, which is basically a piece of paper that is going to get ruined or stored away never to be seen again. Trophies and statues are useful as decorations of a person’s success. They can be displayed on a shelf and used in different areas of the home. Some people even keep a personal shelf dedicated to their trophies. Recognizing someone with a trophy or statue gives them more of a memory than something as simple as a certificate because it’s something that they can reflect on from time to time instead of storing and forgetting.

Shows More Gratitude

Trophies and statue awards show true gratitude. They are harder to obtain than a certificate, and cost a bit of money and effort to produce. If you were in the receiver’s shoes, would you appreciate receiving a trophy instead of a certificate? It’s really that simple. Trophies can also be engraved. This symbolizes a long term appreciation for the group member’s efforts.


If you want group members to stay with your organization for the long term and to continue to work hard, then you need to recognize them and award them when it’s due. A trophy or statue is a good way to do just that. It will act as a reminder every day when they wake up in their home and see that trophy sitting on the shelf. Having that memory could be exactly what they need to motivate themselves. A certificate or card won’t last long and will be stored away or forgotten. Not to mention the fact that trophies and statues are more customizable and you can come up with a more personal design for the person receiving the award.