The History of the Custom Challenge Coin and How Businesses Can Use Them

The History of the Custom Challenge Coin and How Businesses Can Use Them

Custom challenge coins can add brand recognition, improve employee morale and foster a sense of camaraderie at any business,

The history of the custom challenge coin goes back about a hundred years. They’ve widely been used in the military to signify brotherhood and unity.

The challenge coin has long been a symbol of camaraderie, passion, and pride. Pride in the work the unit does, passion for the country, and the bond that’s unique to the military.

That’s been recognized and adopted by organizations outside of the military. Today, challenge coins are used by first responders, governments, non-profit organizations, and businesses. Even the President has one (and he just gave it a makeover).

Read on to learn more about these unique coins and how you can use them in your business.

What is a Challenge Coin?

A challenge coin is a coin that carries the unique insignia or motto of a group or unit. Usually seen in the military, these coins give those who carry them a sense of pride.

The size of challenge coins was originally about one inch in diameter. Now, they’re about 1.75″ in diameter. Most of them are round, just like a coin, but there are some that are in the shape of a rectangle or pentagon.

They’re issued to show appreciation, for serving in a military operation, and soldiers will show them to identify themselves as part of a particular unit.

They’re traded and exchanged like trading cards or business cards among military members.

History of the Challenge Coin

No one truly knows how the challenge coin became pervasive in the U.S. military.

The most common story is that a wealthy American lieutenant created insignia and had medallions made for his unit during World War I. One of the unit's fighter pilot was shot down and captured by German soldiers, who took all of his ID, with the exception of the coin he kept in a leather pouch.

He escaped and managed to make contact with French villagers, who thought he was a German spy and prepared to kill him.

He pulled out his coin and a French soldier identified the symbol, which saved his life.

Other stories that may or may not be the first use of the challenge coin come from World War II and Vietnam.

The challenge coin tradition took shape in the 1960s when the 10th Special Forces Group became the first and only military unit to commission its own coin. It remained the only unit in the Army with its own challenge coin until the 1980s. That’s when the tradition became standard among military units.

The truth is, the use of coins in the military goes back to the Romans. Roman soldiers received coins for their pay after a day on the battlefield. Soldiers were recognized for an extraordinary job with another coin.

These coins were thought to have been specially produced to reflect different Roman military units.

The challenge coin tradition can even be found in other countries. Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom are just a few of the countries that have embraced what challenge coins represent.

Where Does “Challenge” Come From?

How did a challenge coin get to be called a challenge coin?

The challenge comes in the form of a coin check to make sure all members of a unit are carrying their coins.

This usually occurs at a bar, where one member (the challenger) will slap their coin on the bar. That’s a call for everyone else to immediately show that they have their coins present.

If everyone has their coin on them, the challenger has to buy a round of drinks. Whoever does not have their coin present has to buy a round for the challenger and everyone else.

Why You Should Use Them in Your Business

The reasons why these are used in the military can be carried over to your business. If your employees are short on passion, pride and camaraderie, consider getting challenge coins for your team.

There are other reasons why you should have challenge coins in your business.

Team Building

How fun would it be if your sales team were sitting around at a meeting table and someone tried to challenge the rest of the team, with the challenger having to buy lunch for everyone?

Those are the times where everyone in the room is laughing and having fun and creates a true team environment.

Brand Building

Challenge coins used as part of marketing promotions is a unique way to make your company stand out.

A custom challenge coin can make a positive first impression for your brand and will help your company stand out from competitors.

With a challenge coin, you can use your logo, company name, or the vision and mission statement of the organization.

Recognize Outstanding Work

Employees who are appreciated are more engaged. They’re also motivated by recognition, appreciation, and a fun workplace.

They are not motivated by money.

With a challenge coin created just for outstanding employees, your employees get to experience all three.

Walk Together Forever

Challenge coins can present an opportunity to bond. Have you ever been a part of a big project or was part of a team where everyone worked hard, worked overtime, and succeeded with a big goal or project?

Those are special moments. They happen in team sports, in business, in the military.

Those are the moments that bind everyone together and you don’t forget.

As a manager, you can make those memories last by giving a challenge coin to each member. It’s a way to recognize the hard work, the fun, and the memories that last long after the work is complete!

Ways to Add a Custom Challenge Coin to Your Business

Does your team have any special projects or objectives to meet?

Maybe you have different sales teams competing for the highest sales volume. Perhaps there’s a conference or trade show and you want your company to stand out.

Here are just some of the ways to add these special coins to your business:

  • Reward Outstanding Teams
  • Appreciate Individual Employees
  • Marketing Promotions
  • Customer Appreciation
  • Business Cards

The possibilities are endless. You can get as creative as you want with how you incorporate challenge coins.

Get a Unique Custom Challenge Coin

A challenge coin is a great way to reward team members, bring teams together, and bring fun into your work.

Want a unique custom challenge coin for your business? Have a look at design options and get a free quote today!