How to Design a Challenge Coin

Challenge coins main core principals are meant to mean something to the person that’s handing them out and to the person that is receiving them. 

Challenge Coins

At CMS, we are dedicated to fostering that emotional connection.  So, when you’re designing a challenge coin, that’s where it starts.  What is it supposed to mean when you palm someone YOUR Challenge coin?  Your Challenge coin could be for your Unit, Division, or company but the bottom line is that its being designed by you.   You’re designing a challenging coin, so you get to decide what that feeling should be.  Now let’s not get you spooled up on having to draw up the design, we have a team here to make your vision a reality.  Let us draft the concept, what you’re trying to convey with the coin and our team of experts will design a challenge coin that meets all your hearts needs!


Once we have the general meaning of your coin laid out, now its time to fine tune what your challenge coin design should look like.  First and foremost, this is YOUR challenge coin, so stay away from all the clip art and tacky icons found on google and phone apps! That’s not a custom challenge coin, that’s a standard challenge coin and with your coin, you’re going to want something special from the start.  Pick a company that has actual graphic designers not just amateur photo-shop and phone app wizards.


Now that we have the basics completed, lets look at the bigger picture items, are you wanting your coin to be more traditional or big and bold?  A mixture of both?  Pay attention to the size of fonts and the type of font used.  Script font is hard to read no matter what size it is and should be avoided unless it can be used rather large to highlight something special.

  • 3D or 2D? Using a mixture of both elements can really capture the message that you’re looking for.
  • Size?  How big are you looking to make your challenge coin?  The average challenge coins size is 1.75 inches; however, that size is increasing every year.  Are you looking to make something that you can palm someone and that they can carry or are you looking to make something that they need to leave on their desk?  Deciding this direction early is a must when designing a challenge coin because everything else hangs in the balance.
  • Color?  There are many ways to add a touch of color to your challenge coins you can use standard color, lucent color or 3D color.  Furthermore, you can also change the entire hue of your coin by changing the metal plating.  For instance, if you’re looking to design a challenge coin with a rich wood background, plating the coin silver first is a mistake.  It causes the wool grain to be dark and somewhat dirty in color; whereas, if you plate the coin in a gold metal first the lucent brown paint will make your challenge coin design look more warm and real.

So, what happens to those that don’t know all these tips or tricks when they set out to design a challenge coin, be it their first or 15th coin in production.  Well, when they are working with CMS; nothing, our design team works fluidly with you, not only assisting you in designing your coin, but also in educating you in why we recommend doing this a certain way.


In our community if you’re not pressing the boundaries your being left behind.  Are you looking at designing a coin with a bottle opener attached or cut out?  Don’t worry we have designed both.

Are you looking at designing a coin with a golf ball marker?  Well, how big would you like them?  We’ve made markers shaped as grenades, Command Master Chief Pins, circles and oh this one time we made a 3d Coffee cup.

What about puzzle coins?  Oh, we did those as well, do you want it with magnets or no magnets?  Dragons or no Dragons?

The point is, if you can think it, we can help you implement it into your design.  We are here to help, because as much as we enjoy designing challenge coins, we collect them even more!