Years of service pins recognize employees for their contributions, but generically designed, they come across as cheap tokens fulfilling an obligation rather than a highlight of their work and dedication. Many pin companies offer “template” awards with five or 10-year milestones ready in pre-made molds. Often featuring gaudy stars or streamers, these prebaked designs are as impactful as a literal pat on the back.

Your team members are the bedrock of your business and it pays to make sure their contributions are personally recognized. All About Pins has assembled this guide to customizing truly rewarding years of service pins.

Marking Company and Employee Milestones

Before looking at what customizations you want in a pin, deciding your timing is essential. Traditionally, years of service pins are awarded for work milestones whether it’s the first year anniversary of employment or they’ve dedicated 20 years with your team. However, people in your business don’t make major contributions in neat five-year packages, they’re working every month to make success possible and service awards are much more effective when the award is tied to an employee’s accomplishment or goal.


Track your employees and their contributions and award them whenever they reach a major milestone within the company. A few ideas might include:

  • Major work anniversaries: Traditionally, many large companies highlight major work anniversaries under five-year intervals (five-year anniversary, 10-year anniversary, 15-year anniversary, etc.) These classic tenure-based awards demonstrate respect for an employee’s extended service and work with your company.
  • Completion of major projects: Whether it be a major product release, the launch of a new service feature or simply an update to existing services, big company projects can take months or years to complete and awarding years of service pins celebrate a major achievement by both the company and its staff. By directly naming an employee’s involvement in a project and recognizing their work, you tie the award much more closely to their own pride and effort.
  • Achieving big goals or benchmarks: Not every milestone needs to be tenure-based, have employees who are consistently closing deals, making sales or achieving company goals? Highlight their performance with a service award that distinguishes their contributions and motivates other employees to reach the same goals.

Engaging Employees With Years of Service Pins

By personalizing a service award to your employee’s role and their work with a company, you create much more impactful items that are intrinsically valuable for both the employee and your company. This can be as easy as adding your company’s branding and individually naming employees, but you can go even further by adding project names or reference their roles in the company. Personal touches like this are much more impactful because they highlight individual contributions and show that you’ve been paying attention to an employee’s involvement.


Now that we’ve established what a design needs to be impactful, here are a few ideas to better connect your awards with employees and their contributions:

  • Relate pin designs to employee positions or roles: Add design elements on a pin connected to an employee’s position, such as a paintbrush for artists or a shield for security officers. It better relates the award to their responsibilities and demonstrates more personal thought into an award.
  • Include relevant slogans or catchphrases: Whether it be the company slogan, the name of a position, or an in-joke between staff members, adding unique phrases connected to an employee’s job adds personality to an award pin, making it more meaningful for each recipient.
  • Use familiar emblems or landscapes: Adding a familiar emblem or an image of a location or space that employees will immediately recognize helps localize the pin and ensure the award is specifically tailored to their work and involvement.

Style Choices and Customizations

Once you’ve locked down the content of your design, it’s time to take a look at some of the most popular options for customizing and styling years of service pins to create a valuable keepsake your employees will be proud to wear or display.

Picking a pin style

For award pins, it’s essential your pin registers as a high-quality item and we recommend cloisonne or die-struck pins to accomplish this. Cloisonne pins are our highest-quality pin style and immediately registers as a high-value pin, especially compared to most fashion or accessory lapel pins. If an initial art design or idea for an award pin will incorporate multiple colors over large sections of a design, the smooth jewelry-grade finish of a cloisonne pin will help the pin retain a professional and sophisticated look.


Meanwhile, die-struck pins are plated in precious metals to create the look of classic military award pins or badges, which can give a refined appearance to a pin, especially if taken in one of our antique plating options. To create added depth and detail in a die-struck pin, we recommend upgrading them into 3D pins which allow you to create more defined pins with stronger details.

If you want to order a soft enamel pin for your award pins, we recommend limiting the number of colors used and the amount of space taken up by enamel paint. Add too much enamel paint, and your award pin will often come out looking more like a painted accessory than an accolade.

Choosing colors

To ensure a pin directly identifies a recipient with their involvement in a company, keep your color palette the same as the one you use to advertise your company’s logo or brand. Your employees will be familiar with the colors and they better connect the pin to your employees as members of the company.


In terms of color usage, avoid using more than two or three colors tops, unless using more would be relevant to your company culture. Simple designs look more professional and let the awards draw more attention to an employee’s achievements and involvement.

Design Splitting

You can split the same design mold from a single order into different plating or text options. This means that after designing 100 award pins to be plated in silver, you can split 10 of those pins to be plated in gold to differentiate 10 employees who worked a longer tenure or made exceptional contributions The same can be done to text on a pin design if you want to award different pins for different projects or tenures at a company. For example, pictured above is an order we completed for Orbcomm, a mobile network provider, using the same mold, we changed the text of the pins to highlight different years of service with the company. Design splitting lets you customize different award pins to highlight different employees based on their tenure or contributions without needing to order an entirely new set of pins.



Every company has its own culture and unique personality. Plan your years of service pins as an expression of your company culture and link your employees as vital and recognized partners in the workplace. We recommend colors and designs that employees will immediately recognize and be familiar with because the last thing you want is for employees to feel underwhelmed about the value you place in them. 

If you need more help designing your company’s years of service pin, contact us! All About Pins has over a decade of experience helping clients create years of service pins and we’d like to think we’ve learned a thing or two about making them.

If you’re feeling confident about your design or idea, send us your ideas and get a free quote from us today!