Designing your own custom lapel pin

When designing your custom lapel pin, remember that the pin is an extension of you & your organization. Your lapel pin will be a reflection of how people perceive your image and this should be communicated in the final design. In this lapel pin design suggestions 101 section of our website we will attempt to explain the basics of creating an effective lapel pin design that will help your pin stand out from the crowd.

Lapel pins are considered jewelry and people wear them as such. Others collect pins that have a special meaning to them. Lapel pins are often used for gifts, awards, recognition, donations, fundraising and awareness. Pins are also used as promotional items for marketing or branding a company, clubs or organization. Lapel pins have also become a fashion statement and people wear them to express themselves, make a statement or just to accessorize.

When producing an enamel pin, all colors must be outlined by metal, gold, silver, copper, antique or black nickel. This allows the enamel colors to stay in place and not flow in to other areas of your design. The text in your pin design is usually the same metal you have chosen, if the text is too small to outline in metal and fill in a color. Remember the motto “less is more” when designing your lapel pin. You want to convey a message about your organization. The average pin size is about 1”, having too much on a pin design can create confusion as to who and what your organization is or what message you are trying to convey. The fewer words and details, the more effective your pin. Try not to stick with a normal pin shape (round, square, rectangle), think out of the box. Just as you want your lapel pin design to stand out, be creative with the shape of your pin.


The size of your lapel pin really depends on its intended use, the design and fine details as well as your personal taste. For years of service lapel pins, recognition or award pins, 1” or less is best. If you are using the pin as a promotional item, fundraiser or as a team trading pin, a larger pin would be considered acceptable.

The pin size is measured by the longest dimension. So if you have a 1.5” x 1” pin, you are able to increase it to a 1.5” x 1.5” at no extra cost. You do not have to use the entire 1.5” x 1.5” area, but it does allow you to be creative in your pin design and create a pin that is more unique.


The shape of your custom lapel pin is just as important as the design. The two are an integral part of each other and should be reflected in the design. Just as the elements in the design are important, the shape should be a compliment to those elements.

The shape of the pin is only limited by your imagination.


Most lapel pin production methods allow up to 5 colors at no additional charge. Even after 5 colors the additional cost is minimal. We utilize the Pantone (PMS) color chart to match your color selection as closely as possible. There can be a slight variation between PMS colors and enamel, when comparing to printed products. In addition, because every monitor has different setting, the colors you see on screen can be slightly different than those on your finished lapel pin. When choosing your pins base metal (gold silver or black nickel), it should always compliment your pin design. For example, gold metal allows dark colors like red, blue & green to “pop” better than a black nickel metal. Silver works well with most colors except very light colors like white & yellow. Black nickel metal can compliment light colors very well.

Production Method

The production method used for your lapel pin can be determined by many factors. Among those are the design, colors, look & feel, quantity as well as the cost. The intended use of the pin can also help determine the best production method to use for your custom lapel pin. Promotional lapel pins tend to utilize lower cost production methods (Screen Printed, Offset Printed, Die Struck Soft Enamel) versus recognition pins that tend to use a more expensive production methods (Cloisonne Hard Enamel, Die Struck). Always consider who is getting the pin, what it is used for and what the perceived value is to the recipient of your lapel pin.


The type of artwork required to produce your lapel pin can depend on the production method needed for your pin design. Camera ready art with fonts converted to outlines with a minimum 300 dpi is best. A digital file of your pin design is more convenient, but a fax or verbal communication as to what you would like is ok also. A good designer can work with anything you can provide. Pinnacle Pins offers free design and consultation, so do not be limited by your resources. We are happy to assist you in any way we can.

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