Challenge coins are traditional tokens of achievement that are earned among members of professional communities which share common goals. The coins themselves represent the facing and meeting of challenges, both expected and unexpected. Groups that use challenge coins include military units, civic organizations, and academic professionals.
History of challenge coins
A minted coin with the special logo and motto of an organization reflects loyalty and belonging. It is a practice that dates back prior to World War I, and has continued to evolve all the way to the President and Vice President of the United States minting their own official challenge coins when they take office. One thing remains the same throughout history: These coins are not granted. They must be earned.
Challenge coins are symbolic: they represent, in part, the completion of a milestone. As awards, they are easy to brand to make them true representatives of the community that is awarding them. They are also historically meaningful, collectible, and convenient in terms of size and portability. Moreover, challenge coins can be mounted or framed, as well.
There are traditional rules to earning and owning challenge coins.
Some of these rules include:
Holders must carry their coins at all time, as you can be challenged to produce it at any time, in less than one step.
The challenge could be for anything, from buying drinks to an actual competition.
If you do not carry your coin, you lose the challenge.
Here are some good reasons to make challenge coins part of your business culture.
Coins are not just used for rewards, or as awards. They represent the end of a journey to meet a challenge. Furthermore, there must be standards that come with earning the coin. All of these things strengthen the sense of belonging in the group and boost morale as well as motivation.
With a challenge plan in place, an organization can use challenge coins as milestones for achievements and time in service. One coin leads to the next. Imagine a long career at a place where all milestones are reached, and you have the tokens to prove it. Coins are not to be “participation prizes,” but symbols of effort and salient work.
One same, organizational symbol that is equally valued by all members is not only a sign of uniformity, but also of equity. Everyone works for the same milestones, and there will be no favoritism or bias from one member to the next.
4. Organizational Culture, Tone and Image
Every coin is different. They come in different shapes, materials, sizes and personalization options. A coin that is creatively designed will be unique to your organization and brand. Your logo, your motto, your mantra: no one else can be like your group. This is what sets the culture of the group aside and makes membership truly one-of-a-kind.
Trophies are bulky. Fancy pens are unimaginative. Gold watches are not really made of gold. The ceremonial handing of an official, minted coin is a dignified process that, in the end, costs less and means much more.
In all, challenge coins bind together the morale and esprit the corps of a group. They motivate people to try get to their next milestone, and keep everyone focused on what is truly important: the journey to make things happen.