Everyone wants to feel like they belong. How do you give someone that special feeling? One age-old way is with challenge coins.
You may have heard the buzz about challenge coins. Maybe you read of President Obama or Trump handing them out with gusto. Maybe you caught the episode of the podcast 99% Invisible about their recent explosion in popularity. Or maybe one of your very own colleagues slapped one down on the table, to your amazement and perhaps… confusion.
What are these curious coins? Where did they come from? And should you create some for your organization?
A challenge coin is a small, custom-made coin carried by an organization’s members or associates. They are minted custom, often featuring emblems, symbols, and mottoes unique to the organization.
This time-honored practice of fellowship recognition is much older than you might think.
Challenge coins have recently burst into popular culture, which might make them seem new. Believe it or not, however, they have a long history within the military, possibly going all the way back to ancient Rome.
According to legend, Roman unit commanders would award valor on the battlefield with a drink, but instead of buying it for them at the tavern, they handed them a coin. That part may be a just-so story, but it does seem that at some point Roman legions started minting coins with their legion’s symbol and handing them out as bonus pay. These coins were treated as keepsakes, and came to symbolize recognition for a job well-done.
The first “official” challenge coins were minted in World War I by a US fighter squadron commander. According to one story, a pilot of this squadron was shot down over France. Lacking identification, the French accused him of being a German spy until he produced his coin. One of the French soldiers recognized the insignia. The coin saved his life, and reportedly earned him a bottle of champagne as well.
Gradually this military tradition extended to law enforcement, U.S. presidents, and finally organizations of all kinds. Today, business associations, universities, hospitals, non-profits, and many other entities create special coins to hand out for promotional and recognition purposes.
If you want your staff, clients, or associates to feel like insiders in your group, then challenge coins are right for you. They can pull them from their pocket and show off their association with you – which is not just a moment of pride for them, but free advertising for you as well!
Never be caught empty-handed again. Mint a unique custom challenge coin for your organization today with Viking Trophies.Traditionally, challenge coins recognize service, but today they may also commemorate important visits or prized relationships. They may highlight organization values, such as the hospital coin to the right or the business association coin below. Recipients proudly display their coins as evidence of being part of a unique team or community. Thus, challenge coins make a person feel like a privileged insider.