guide to designing a pin
November 1, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Custom Lapel Pin

The historical significance of American military lapel pins showcases their enduring legacy, tracing dates back to 1860 from the Civil War's battlefields to today's diverse applications. These lapel pins were used to identify soldiers by their unit numbers on the battlefield. Evolving from a military identifier to a symbol of unity and pride, these pins have become a canvas for personal and organizational expression. Custom lapel pins have garnered popularity among various groups, from senators to students, reflecting a rich tapestry of affiliations and achievements.

Today, custom lapel pins have transcended their formal roots to become a vibrant accessory for myriad interests and hobbies. They are a popular means for individuals and organizations to showcase their unique identities and values. The modern lapel pin represents more than status—it's a tool for self-expression and personal branding. A custom lapel pin is a great expression of individuality.

Designing a custom lapel pin is a creative journey from concept to tangible accessory. This process is an opportunity to encapsulate your vision into a miniature works of art that communicates your passion. With the right approach to design, your custom lapel pin can be both visually striking and meaningful. Continue reading for in-depth guidance on how to craft a lapel pin that perfectly encapsulates your message. Keep reading this guide for more details below.

Getting Started with Your Custom Lapel Pin Design

When creating a logo or design for your custom lapel pin, you need to consider how the overall concept will transfer to a lapel pin format. For lapel pins, you must take into account the image itself, as well as the font you use. As you embark on your custom lapel pin design, consider the balance between aesthetics and clarity. Simple yet impactful images translate best to the small canvas of a pin, ensuring your vision is communicated effectively. The right scale is crucial; too small, and the details are lost, but with the correct dimensions, your custom lapel pin will stand out for all to admire. Let this guide be your starting point in creating a lapel pin that's both eye-catching and emblematic of your unique perspective.

Lapel Pin Image

In the world of custom lapel pins, simplicity often equates to effectiveness. A design with clean lines and bold forms ensures that your pin is easily recognizable, even from a distance. When considering the imagery for your pin, aim for a balance between simplicity and detail that reflects the core message or identity you wish to portray. This ensures your pin is not just an accessory but a conversation starter. If possible, stay with a simple design image with not too many fine details in it, as they will be difficult to see. They may not convert over as well as they do on paper.

You should also consider the size of your pin is a crucial decision that affects its visibility and appeal. A common mistake is to shrink a complex logo down to pin size, which can result in a loss of detail and clarity. A size that is too large may not be worn as readily, whereas a pin that is too small may fail to convey the design effectively. As a rule of thumb, aim for a size that allows your design to breathe and be discernible at a glance without overwhelming the attire it adorns. Consider the standard sizes in the industry, usually ranging from 0.75 to 1.5 inches, as a guide to finding that perfect balance for your custom lapel pin.

Lapel Pin Text Font

When incorporating text into your custom lapel pin design, the choice of font can significantly impact the pin’s legibility and aesthetic appeal. A sans-serif font, known for its clean and modern look without additional flourishes, is often the best choice for small-scale items like lapel pins. These fonts are designed for clarity and can be easily read at a small size, ensuring that your message is communicated effectively without the need for close inspection.

The kerning, or spacing between characters, is another critical aspect to consider. Proper kerning prevents letters from merging into each other when the pin is produced, which is particularly important at smaller scales. Additionally, boldface fonts can be advantageous, as the thicker lines stand out better on the metal background of the pin, making the text more visible from a distance.

Moreover, the psychology of typography should not be underestimated. The font style can convey different feelings and associations—whether it's the strength and reliability suggested by a bold, blocky font or the sophistication and elegance of a more stylized typeface. However, with lapel pins, the message must be immediate and clear, so prioritize readability over decorative fonts.

For pins intended to carry a significant message or represent a brand, it may be worth consulting with a graphic designer. Thankfully we have a talented team of designers at that can help you with your pin design for free. Our in-house team can offer insights into which fonts are most effective for your particular design and message, or even create a custom font that's tailored to your brand and scales perfectly for a lapel pin.

Deciding on the Types of Lapel Pins

The next step in the design process is choosing the type of lapel pin you want. When deciding on the types of lapel pins for your project, you'll encounter a variety of manufacturing styles and materials that can greatly influence the final look and feel of your pins. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types to help you make an informed decision:

Soft Enamel Pins

A soft enamel pin can be die-struck or die-cast during the manufacturing process. Soft enamel pins differ from hard enamel pins due to the texture that results from filling the enamel beneath the metal ridges of the design. The soft enamel pin is heated up to 400º Fahrenheit, creating a high-quality custom lapel pin with a textured surface and a more natural appearance.

Soft Enamel Pin
Example of a soft enamel pin we created for Ben Kwok

These are the most popular type of custom lapel pins, offering a classic look with vibrant colors.

Soft enamel pins are cost-effective options that can provide an affordable option for purchasing large groups. You can customize soft enamel pins in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes.

Hard Enamel Pins

Hard enamel pins are the highest quality lapel pins you can get. A hard enamel pin is created by polishing the enamel flush with the metal for a smooth appearance. This is in addition to what goes into making soft enamel pins.

Example of a hard enamel lapel pin
Example of a Hard Enamel Lapel Pin

The result is a high-quality custom lapel pin with exceptional long-lasting durability and a beautiful finish. This high gloss finish enhances a pin's vivid coloring and won't fade with time.

Die-Struck Pins

A die-struck pin is an all-metal pin with an image or logo stamped into the metal. These pins can be made from brass, iron, copper, or other metal types. There is no color involved other than the color of the metal used.

Die struck pins have a striking appearance because of their raised features. Texturing and polishing add to their distinct features.

Offset Printed Pins

An offset printed custom lapel pin is ideal for creating a unique design. It uses state-of-the-art technology to print your design directly onto the metal. Once the design is printed and the color is set, a trimming tool shapes the design.

Offset Printed Lapel Pin
Example of an offset printed pin

To provide protection and durability, an epoxy resin dome is applied to the custom pins. This also improves the image's quality.

Quick Pins

Quick pins are suitable for when you need stock pins shipped out in a hurry. You can have your Quick Pins order in less than a week.

Quick pins are available in 3 sizes including a 1.5″ round or square pin, a 2″ square pin, or a heavyweight 3″ cast pin.

Specify Your Metal Coloring for Your Custom Lapel Pin

The right metal color, in combination with your design, can also complement your custom lapel pin's overall appeal. You have so many different metal colors to choose from, so you're certain to find the one that best suits your needs.

  • Gold - a timeless finish suitable for medals and special achievements
  • Brass - a polished and soft golden-like patina for a vintage feel
  • Antique Gold - a softer, darker gold coloring for service pins
  • Silver - bright, shiny metallic tones as a companion to its gold variation
  • Antique Silver - a darker aged silver for historical themed pin replicas
  • Nickel - sturdy silver like tones used for award pins
  • Black Nickel - a contemporary-looking appeal with black tones
  • Copper - a warm and rich deep brown tone
  • Antique Copper - warm, rosy tones give it an aged look
  • Spray Black - a striking and attention-getting jet black coloring

Whatever metal color you choose, your custom lapel pins are sure to shine.

Select the Backing for Your Custom Lapel Pin

The next step is deciding which backing you want. Depending on your budget and needs, there are several different options for your custom lapel pin to choose from.

  • Safety Pin- a secure fastening safety-lock closure
  • Magnet - two secure magnets that don't puncture clothing
  • Stick Pin - a stylish way to pin through the length of the lapel
  • Butterfly Clutch - features a pinch-to-open back closure
  • Earring Post - a thin version of a Butterfly Clutch made from silver/gold
  • Screw Back - screws into place firmly for a tight closure
  • Button Clutch - a locking variation of the Butterfly for valuable pins
  • Rubber Clutch - an economical rubber lapel back fastener

Once you have selected your preferred custom lapel pin backing, you can decide if there are any other enhancements you would like to add to your custom lapel pin.

Other Custom Lapel Pin Enhancements

Enhancing your custom lapel pins with special features can transform them from mere accessories into conversation-starting pieces of art. Here are more details about the enhancement options that can take your custom lapel pin to the next level:

1. Glow Enamel:

  • Imagine your pin coming to life in the dark, creating a striking and memorable effect. Glow enamel is perfect for evening events, music festivals, or as a safety feature for nighttime activities. This luminous option ensures your message stands out, day or night.

2. Glitter:

  • Glitter adds a sparkling touch that catches the eye and enhances the pin’s visual appeal. It’s perfect for commemorative events, celebratory occasions, or just to add a bit of pizzazz to your design. With the affordability of adding glitter, it's a small touch that can make a big impact.

3. Crystals:

  • Crystals bring a touch of elegance and premium feel to your pins. They can be used to symbolize milestones or achievements, or simply to elevate the aesthetic. Each crystal is meticulously placed, adding a dimension of luxury to your custom piece.

4. Blinkers:

  • Blinkers grab attention in a fun and unique way. They are especially effective for promotional purposes, for safety as flashy indicators, or as novelty items at parties and events. The battery pack is designed to be discreet, ensuring the pin remains stylish while functional.

Additional Enhancements:

  • Besides these, you may consider other enhancements like:


  • These are additional charms that hang from the main pin, adding movement and an extra layer of design. They can signify special interest or denote rank or achievement.


  • Add a moving element to your pin with sliders that can move up, down, or across the pin, creating an interactive experience.


  • Spinners are parts of the pin that can rotate 360 degrees, adding an engaging twist to your design.

Bobble Heads:

  • Incorporating a spring into the design allows a section of the pin to bobble, adding a whimsical and playful effect.

Translucent Enamel:

  • This see-through enamel allows for subtle color details and can be paired with a glitter or glow effect for a more nuanced design.

Enhanced Backings:

  • Upgrade from the standard butterfly clutch to more secure options like magnetic backings, screw backings, or safety pin styles for a custom fit.

When considering these enhancements, it’s important to think about the context in which the pins will be used. For corporate events, you may opt for subtle elegance with crystals or translucent enamel. For trade shows or festivals, blinkers or glow enamel might be more suitable to create standout pieces.

To give your pins a glow-in-the-dark appearance, add glow enamel for a fun effect. Glow enamel costs just 20 cents per color.

Adding glitter to your custom lapel pin will really make it shine. It costs 10 cents each for one glitter color or two glitter colors for just 15 cents.

Add crystals to your pin to glam it up or make it stand out. The price is an additional 10 cents per crystal.

Blinkers are small lights that you can add to your pin. They are powered by an attached battery pack on the pin's back. One blinker costs $1.25 and two lights are $2.24.

Find Quality Custom Lapel Pins and More from MetalPromo

Designing a custom lapel pin should be a fun and enjoyable process. From concept art to the finished product, let MetalPromo help you with every step of the creation process. Our product quality and honest customer reviews speak for themselves.

Creating a custom lapel pin with MetalPromo is not just about ordering a product—it's about crafting an experience and an emblem that resonates with your personal or brand identity. With MetalPromo, you're not just a customer; you're a creator, an artist, and a storyteller. We understand that every pin is a narrative in miniature, a conversation piece that speaks volumes.

Our commitment to excellence is reflected not only in the craftsmanship of our products but also in the comprehensive services we provide. With customer satisfaction at the forefront, MetalPromo ensures a seamless journey from the drawing board to the final product. We offer a variety of customization options to suit your specific needs, whether it's for a corporate event, non-profit fundraiser, educational achievement, or personal collection.

At MetalPromo, the process is tailored to be as collaborative as you desire. You can be hands-on in every step, or you can provide us with your vision and let our experienced designers work their magic. We pride ourselves on our transparent communication, ensuring that you're informed and satisfied at every turn.

Quality Assurance:

  • We guarantee high-quality materials and finishes for every order, with stringent quality checks to ensure that your custom lapel pins are nothing short of perfect.

Competitive Pricing:

  • Affordability without compromising on quality is a hallmark of our service. We strive to offer the most competitive prices in the market, and our promise to beat competitors' prices reflects our dedication to providing value to our clients.

Diverse Product Range:

  • Beyond lapel pins, our repertoire includes an array of customizable metal products like business cards, keychains, and challenge coins, each with the same level of quality and customer service.

Customer-Centric Approach:

  • Our approach to business is deeply rooted in customer satisfaction. The glowing testimonials and reviews we receive are a testament to our commitment to excellence.

Start-to-Finish Assistance:

  • From your initial inquiry to the moment your order is placed, you'll find our team ready and eager to assist. We offer comprehensive support to ensure your design is translated flawlessly into the final product.

We offer free U.S. shipping, free artwork design and revisions, and we'll even beat our competitors' prices. We even have metal business cards, keychains, and custom challenge coins. Our talented design team can't wait to bring your ideas to life.

Reach out to us today, and let's begin sketching the pin that tells your story. Contact MetalPromo for a no-obligation quote and experience firsthand the expertise and passion we bring to every project.

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