The History of the Custom Challenge Coin & How Businesses Use Them

The History of the Custom Challenge Coin & How Businesses Use Them

Jesse Daugherty

Jesse Daugherty

The History of the Custom Challenge Coin & How Businesses Use Them

The history of the custom challenge coin is quite interesting. It dates back a hundred years, as they have been widely used in the military. These coins signify brotherhood and units, long being a symbol of camaraderie, passion, and pride.


The pride in the work the unit does, passion for the country, and camaraderie of their military family. Those same traits have been recognized and adopted by organizations outside of the military. Today custom coins are used by first responders, governments, non-profit organizations, and businesses. Even the President has one. Today we 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 mottos of a particular group or unit. These coins are generally seen in the military, given out and carried with a sense of pride. The size of the original challenge coins were about an inch in diameter. Now they are about 1.75″ in diameter. Most of them are round, like a coin, but some come in the shape of a rectangle or pentagon.


These coins are issued to show appreciation, for serving in a military operation, and soldiers will use them to identify themselves as part of a particular unit. They are traded and exchanged like trading cards or business cards among military members as well.


The History of the Challenge Coin!

No one really knows how the challenge coin became a tradition of the U.S. Military. The most common story is that of a wealthy American lieutenant who created insignia and had medallions made for his unit during World War I.


He was an Army Air Corps pilot who was shot down and captured by German soldiers, who took all of his ID, except for the coin he kept in a leather pouch. Upon escaping, he managed to make contact with French villagers, who thought he was a German spy. The solider used his coin to identify himself, which was recognized by a French soldier, who helped save his life.


Other stories have filtered down through the years of the coins coming 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 use of these coins actually 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 through to have been specially produced to reflect different Roman military units. The challenge coin tradition can be found in other countries as well. 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 aspect comes in the form of a coin check to make sure all members of a unit are carrying their coins.


This usually happened at the bar when one member would slap their coin on the bar. That serves as a call for everyone else to show their coins. If everyone has their coin, the challenger has to buy a round of drinks. Whoever doesn't have their coin has to buy a round of drinks 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 effortlessly. If your employees are short on passion, pride, and camaraderie, consider getting challenge coins for your team.


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? Maybe it's a lunch challenge? Make it interesting! Those are the times when everyone is laughing and having fun, creating a team environment.


Brand Building

Challenge coins are used as a part of marketing promotions in a unique way to make your company stand out. A custom coin can make a positive first impression for your brand. With the challenge coin, you can use your logo, company name, or the vision of the organization.


Recognize Outstanding Work

Employees who are appreciated are much more engaged. They're also motivated by recognition, appreciation, and a fun workplace. With a challenge coin created just for outstanding employees, your employees get the benefit of all three!


Walk Together Forever

Challenge coins also present the opportunity to bond. Have you ever been part of a big project or part of a team where everyone worked hard, worked overtime, and the team succeeded? Those special moments should be celebrated! 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 job is done.


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. Possibly a conference or trade show that you want to stand out at. These are just a few ways to add these special coins to your business:

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

Get creative and unique; the possibilities are endless.


Get a Unique Custom Challenge Coin

A challenge coin is a great way to reward the team. They are also great for bringing teams together while bringing fun to work. Looking to create a custom challenge coin for your business? Have a look at design options and get a free quote right now!