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Medals and awards are a physical manifestation of hard work and dedication to greatness. Not only do they commemorate efforts, but they’re also an excellent way to attract new participants and sponsors alike.

Medal design can be a tricky passage to navigate, but with thoughtful planning, you are sure to deliver a beautiful award any participant would be excited to receive.

Read on to discover what it takes to acquire and create custom medals and awards that make your event stand out!How To Create Custom Medals & Awards Participants Love

How To Create Custom Medals & Awards Participants Love

There are many benefits of giving participants a unique custom medal at your event. An amazing medal is a great way to celebrate their achievements and an effective way to help boost registrations and attract sponsors.

Not surprisingly, the better your medal is, the better your chances are of accomplishing these goals. Seems like an obvious concept, right? But, if you’re unfamiliar with custom medals in general, you might feel overwhelmed with the seemingly endless options, features, etc., that go into the order process.

Thankfully there are some best practices/tips you can use, and partnering with a reputable, experienced medal vendor will help you create a one-of-a-kind medal that participants are proud of and want to brag about to their friends.

What Makes a Custom Medal “Brag-Worthy”?

Yes, it’s cliche, but beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Not everyone resonates with the same things aesthetically. You can have the most stunning, expensive, professionally designed medal ever, yet someone may not like it.

There are certain things you can do that will almost always increase the appeal of the medal, the least of which is considering the size of the medal. As you may assume, the bigger the medal, the higher the cost. However, paying an extra 50 cents per piece for a larger medal can open up all kinds of opportunities to add new features, layers, and more design features.

Furthermore, the better the medal, the more participants you’ll likely attract to your event, meaning an even bigger audience for potential sponsors. So, having incredible custom medals that attract participants may increase your chances of attracting more sponsors.

Boost the “Bragworthiness” of Your Custom Medals

One simple and cost-effective way to add some “bragworthiness” to your medal is to add some color. Enamel or translucent fill can enhance the overall look of your medal. Or, consider adding glitter enamel which sparkles and grabs the eye’s attention.

Another effective way to improve the perceived value of your medals is by using colorful custom ribbons. This involved a relatively significant upcharge not long ago, but the cost has come down quite a bit. Adding a two-tone ribbon or high-quality sublimated ribbon is an amazingly effective way to wow your participants.

Adding a beveled edge to your medals also gives them a classy and sophisticated look. This can be as simple as adding an angled edge instead of something flat like the edge of a coin.

One last thing you might consider is adding a functionality feature to your medal. Something especially fun and useful like a bottle opener, belt buckle, or wine stopper (which has a minimal cost impact) makes for a wonderful conversation piece, therefore keeping your event top of mind!

Rely on an Expert Medal Vendor

Do you have any other ideas for custom medals and awards that would make participants super proud and excited to show them off? Perhaps you’ve already been successful in creating a unique medal participants love?

Either way, we’d love to hear about them, and our team is ready to start the conversation to help you create your next “brag-worthy” custom medal.



5 Tips For Designing an Amazing Custom Medal

How Great Custom Neck Ribbons Can Help Event Promotion


An impressive custom medal helps your event stand out from the rest and is also a valuable marketing tool that can ultimately help you gain recognition and promote your event. An awesome medal that hangs from a complimentary custom neck ribbon with a cool design can take your unique award to the next level. Additionally, by giving some extra attention to the neck ribbon design, you may even be able to include certain details and design dimensions to your award that would not otherwise be possible to cast in metal.

There are several kinds of neck ribbons you might consider using with your medal. The most common are: stock ribbons, screen printed ribbons, and custom sublimated ribbons.

Stock Ribbons

Have limited color options, low perceived value, and no promotional capabilities.

RibbonsAccessories-NeckRibbons-modern-flow-XI-wide-running-1 copy


Screen Printed Ribbons

Have a higher perceived value than stock ribbons and provide some promotional aspects. You can print one or more colors of text or a logo; however, there are production limitations to fine details and color gradients.

screen print neck ribbon copy


Sublimated (heat transfer) Ribbons

Color, quality, and custom design! As the most popular choice, custom sublimated ribbons offer the most promotional flexibility by having virtually unlimited color options, print and graphics capabilities, and the ability to show fine details.

Custom Sublimated Neck Ribbons copy


For a number of reasons, custom sublimated ribbons have become the most popular style of ribbon used with custom medals.

Technically speaking, dye-sublimation printing (or dye-sub printing) is a computer printing technique that uses heat to transfer dye onto materials such as polyester, plastic, card, paper, or other fabrics.

What does this mean to you in terms of custom neck ribbons? Dye sublimation can print extremely detailed and colorful information that would be better suited to be printed on a ribbon than cast in metal (intricate and/or colorful logos and highly detailed text, for example). Think of the neck ribbon as an extension of the custom medal you’re creating; the ribbon is a piece of art, too, and provides more functional space for important details about your event, such as a sponsor logo.

Attention-Grabbing Technology

Obviously, the better-looking something is, the more positive attention it will grab. Technology has come such a long way when it comes to printing, and the capabilities and overall appearance of dye sublimated ribbons have dramatically increased. The lines are cleaner and more precise, and the soft, silky feel of the polyester gives recipients a higher perceived value of their award, and thus, they’ll be more likely to show it off, wear it, come back to the event next year, etc. In addition, over the past decade, technology improvements have driven costs down. What was once a budget-straining item has now become very affordable and makes the overall value of sublimated ribbons an easy choice.

Using Sublimated Ribbons lets you use space on a neck ribbon to include sponsor logos and other event information you couldn't fit on the medal or a screen-printed ribbon. Your design can include information that actually promotes the event details, such as:

  • Photos and graphics
  • Text
  • Date
  • Partners
  • Location(s)
  • Theme

... and more. The fact you can offer co-branded logo placements is extremely attractive to sponsors.

Custom neck ribbons combined with outstanding custom medals effectively make your event look and feel more professional. For a nominal investment in your neck ribbon, you can add significant value which appeals to both participants and sponsors.

To learn more about custom neck ribbon design, check out 4 Things To Know Before Designing Custom Neck Ribbons.

8 Things All Great Running Medals Have in Common

8 Things All Great Running Medals Have in Common

The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all checklist to creating “the perfect'' custom medal. However, there are a handful of commonalities that -when used properly- have proven time and time again to result in some of the best, most unique running medals ever. These relate to details like medal size, thickness, finish, neck ribbon, etc. Most importantly, a great running medal has a well-thought-out design that exudes harmony and balance in every aspect.

Below is a list of the most common things that make a great running medal:


It is safe to say that most people love a (high-quality) big medal. Whether it’s a classic circle or a custom shape that fits the theme of your event...generally, bigger is better. Over the many years of supplying custom running medals to event directors, the best feedback and excitement revolves around 2.5” and up medals. The most common are 3”- 5”.

Yes, small medals can be stunning too, but keep in mind a smaller medal can present design limitations; you’ll have less space to work with overall, and the size (width) of your neck ribbon will need to be customized accordingly. For example, a neck ribbon with a 1.5” width paired with a medal the size of a silver dollar would look ridiculous!


Since thickness is a component of “size,” you should also consider this essential detail when deciding on the size of your custom running medal. Of the thousands of custom medals we've created for running events, the ones that get raved about the most are 5-millimeters thick (and up).

By utilizing these particular elements of size, you can be sure to impress participants with the look, feel, heft, and overall significance of the unique token of achievement dedicated to your event. To put it simply, the bigger the size of the medal, the greater the perceived value associated with it. This makes your participants feel special and elevates the status of your event.

1-Sided vs. 2-Sided

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a 1-sided medal, having a 2-sided medal opens up all kinds of exciting possibilities for design. You’ve now got twice the room to play with, which means more room for design elements, sponsor logos, and more. You can really “wow” participants by simply using a design feature they haven’t seen before.

For example, this highly 3D sculpted Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon medal features the face/front of the flying pig on the front side of the medal. When you flip to the back-side of the medal, it features the pig's round, plump “back-side” and the back of his detailed wings as if he is flying’s such a classic yet unique and fun running medal.


Raised and Recessed Areas

There’s nothing like running your fingers over your medal and feeling the depth and texture. There are two methods of giving your medals raised and recessed areas: multi-level and 3D sculpting. Talk to an expert medal design partner to see which options might be best for your next event!


The “best” medals and ribbon combinations have some color in the medal while featuring the metal finish (gold, silver, bronze, etc.) and then use lots of color in the ribbon.

Some custom medals have added pizzazz with next-level color elements such as:

  • Translucent colors
  • Glow in the dark
  • Glitter

Medal / Ribbon Synergy

You can design stunning medals and ribbons separately, but if they clash, it just won’t look right. As we touched on above when talking about the size elements, it’s critical that your medal and ribbon complement one another. When creating your design, consider how the finished neck ribbon will look with the finished custom it cohesive in terms of size and design?

A ribbon that pairs perfectly with your medal has complimenting colors, logos, text, graphics, etc., resulting in a more unified and appealing finished product. Sublimated ribbons are the most common custom neck ribbon to accomplish this objective.

Sufficient, Reasonable Budget

Designing a custom medal can be tricky when it comes to determining your budget. One thing we know for sure is that the best running medals all have an adequate budget that allows a vendor to meet customer wants, needs and expectations. Sure, setting a budget and sticking to it can be challenging. However, having an ideal price point in mind will help the process and your custom medal design outcome.

A Well Thought-Out Design

The best running medals have great designs! This is, by far, the most important thing that the best running medals have in common. Many factors contribute to a great custom medal, such as following proven medal design techniques and understanding production capabilities.

These examples are just scratching the surface, and you can learn more about what it means to have a great design in our FREE Guide: 5 Tips for Designing an Amazing Custom Medal.


Promote and Grow Your Event with Promotional Items


Studies have shown medals and awards can benefit their recipients in many ways, including improved subjective wellbeing and higher self-esteem. They can also help motivate people to strive harder for future achievements.

In addition to amazing medals and awards, custom promotional items like water bottles, hats, reusable bags, and flashlights can also leave a positive lasting impression and add more value to your event(s).

How exactly can unique promotional items help promote and grow your events, though? What's so special about them that makes them a good incentive for people to participate in or come to your events? How can they help you win the favor of sponsors?

Help Increase Participation + Grow Your Event

While taking home a unique custom medal motivates people to participate, cool promotional items and swag are icing on the cake that adds that extra touch to your event. Higher perceived value attracts more participants.

For sponsors, high-quality custom medals, plaques, and various promotional items can serve as an irresistible branding strategy. Note that in the US, experts forecasted sponsorship spending to have reached $24.2 billion in 2018. The main reason companies invest in such programs is to boost brand awareness. With that said, to win the favor of sponsors, you must give them the means to showcase their brand at your event.

That's why custom promotional items should be in every event director’s arsenal. You can use these products as a type of sponsor incentive, in the form of logo placement. Meaning, the brand logo of the sponsors themselves will show up on the promotional items. The more sponsors know their brand will be on display, the more willing they will be to say yes to your proposal.

Promo Item Effectiveness Relies on Staying Power

To maximize your investment in promotional items, they must provide utility or value. Otherwise, recipients quickly forget about them, or worse, toss them in a trash bin. If this happens, you can probably expect prospective participants to ignore your events.

That said, you should invest in promotional items that have a useful purpose aside from being a pretty display. A few examples of the top promo products are water bottles, hats, tote bags or backpacks, flash drives & flashlights.

Everyone has a need for these products, so they have a life span that exceeds well beyond your event. They have a staying power you wouldn't find in advertisements like fliers. The longer a person can use a promotional item, the greater a brand's exposure.

Medals, Awards & Promotional Items at Your Event

Promotional-Products-3-1Brand placement for the big day itself can further help entice sponsors. An event day activity that can have a major impact is how you display all of the unique custom medals and/or promotional items.

For example, if you’re organizing a 5K race or marathon, you may consider dedicating an area near the finish line where all of the medals and exclusive promotional products are displayed in a way that is sure to grab everyone’s attention. This display of custom medals and all of the awesome promotional items, along with the actual awards ceremony (if you’re having one), is prime real estate to promote both sponsors and your event, and it helps generate more excitement.

Great Promo Products Make Your Event Memorable

As you can see, custom medals, awards, and promotional items can play a huge role in the success of an event. By choosing quality promotional items that are functional and provide high perceived value, you can make your event stand out.

Ready to make your event the talk of the town, perhaps even for years to come? We can help! Get in touch with an experienced sales associate at Maxwell Medals & Awards and we will assist you in creating a successful, memorable event!


As an event director, your goal is to have your event stand out in the minds of all who attended, whether it’s participants, sponsors, volunteers, or the community. Dedicating time and effort to the design of your custom medals and awards is a great way to stand out for all of the right reasons.

Using these tips and best practices with help you create a well-thought-out and organized design, resulting in a custom medal that will make a connection with participants and enhance the image of your event.

To learn more about how to make your event stand out with great custom medals and awards, be sure to download your free Guide: 5 Tips For Designing An Amazing Custom Medal.

Design Guide

Make your event stand out with these top 5 medal design tips.

In this Guide, you'll discover:

  • Simple questions to consider before starting the design process.
  • Proven design techniques that WOW participants, attendees, & sponsors.
  • Game-changing physical features you can apply to your medal design.

...and more!


5 Tips For Designing an Amazing Custom Medal

Ordering Guide

5 tips to make ordering custom medals a breeze.

In this Guide, you'll discover:

  • Why it's never too early to start your order.
  • How waiting to start your order could cost you (literally and figuratively).
  • Common ordering mistakes to avoid.

...and more!


5 Tips to Make Ordering Custom Medals Easy

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