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The custom pin type you choose might not sound like the biggest deal but it really can be. Of course, it will be dependent on your design (such as an uncolored pin would only be Die Struck) but you should make an effort to have a dialogue with your manufacturer about what style of pin would work best for your design. Things you should consider when approaching a pin company is what the application of the pin would be or where the pin would be used or worn. These play a large role in the suitability of a pin style.
Size does determine costs and no one wants their custom pin order to be expensive unnecessarily but making a pin too small could drastically affect the legibility or readability of the pin. You don’t want people putting their face right up to your pin just to see what it says as it defeats the whole purpose of using a pin as a marketing tool. Also, a small pin might not be advantageous in getting people interested in your pins if you are selling them. Certain niches and fandoms prefer pins on the larger side of things as they aren’t worn but instead are collected and displayed.
Unless you are designing a sports trading pin, then a large custom pin may not be a worthwhile endeavor. The first and foremost reason is the cost of pins over 1.5″ in size. After that measurement, costs inflate due to larger dies needed to stamp out your pins along with the extra material required for the pin blanks themselves. If you compare a 1″ pin to a 1.5″ pin, the larger pin has over twice the area of the smaller one even though it is just a .5″ size difference.
Speaking of sizing, another aspect of size is the dimensions of your pin. As makers of custom pins for many years, we’ve come across a common misunderstanding about dimension and sizing. Let’s say your pin is in the shape of a banana, so its longer than it is wider. You’ll be quoted for a 1″ pin regardless of the width being, say, .25″. Due to that smaller surface area, the pin “feels” smaller and is definitely lighter than a comparable 1″ pin that is 1″ tall and 1″ wide. So unless your pin is really needing to be a thin and long design, try to avoid this by adding “material” to your design by, perhaps, incorporating text or additional imagery.
When you’re laying out your custom pin design, you’re probably not designing it at the actual size because sketching a tiny pin on paper isn’t exactly easy nor very fun. Something you should keep in mind is the actual readability of a pin or having tiny details being visible at a reasonable distance. Now, I don’t expect people to be able to read my pin at 10 feet away but I don’t want them to have to lean in and read the pin just a nose away from it. The wording on your pin should be in a font that isn’t too intricate and it should be in a size around 6 points or larger (if designing in a computer graphics program like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop).
We understand not everyone majored in Color Theory at college (heck, we wish we majored in anything), but being discerning about your custom pin colors can assure you won’t make a costly mistake when you get your pins and they look like a muddled mess. One of the most important pieces of advice we can offer is reviewing your pin’s PMS colors in person, in real life. Computer monitors and LED screens display colors at varying accuracies. Some displays use much “cooler” colors and others, “warmer”. These diverse color settings can trick you into thinking the color you selected is the one you are wanting but in actuality it is many shades off. Aside from that technical aspect of pin designing, color clashing is a big problem when a customer is adamant their colors are correct. Common issues are colors that are too similar to metal platings of a pin such as dark blues on a black metal pin or grey on a black nickel metal pin. Make sure to heed the advice of your pin people or bring up the topic of colors and hear what their thoughts might be.
Pin posts are what make pins “pins” but are hardly thought of when it comes to a custom made pin. That makes sense though because pin posts can’t really be customized and you are already focused on making sure the face of the pin is perfect. Posts placement is important though because if it is placed in the wrong spot your pin can be too top heavy and angle towards the ground when worn. Or, if your pin is large or in a nonstandard shape, one post might not be enough. Sometimes two posts are required to keep a pin “level” on your lapel. Be sure to discuss with your pin manufacturer what the best pin post positioning is for your pin order.
Custom pins are made from just a few different types of metals but those metal’s rarity can affect the cost of a pin. If you shop around and get widely differing prices for your custom pin order, it could be because the base metals are of varying quality. Metal costs range from the low, iron, to the pricey, copper, and many in between. It’s worth a few minutes to go over the materials your custom pins are made so you can be sure the weight and feel of your pins are up to par.
Sometimes it might be hard to ask more from someone giving you something for free. Many pin companies offer free design services for an order of custom pins but maybe the design you received wasn’t exactly what you were wanting. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for a revision or two or three. You could be spending a good chunk of change and money doesn’t exactly grow on trees. Be sure you are totally happy with your pin proof, don’t rush to a decision and maybe even sleep on it.
With about a hundred different custom pin companies out there, you might be overwhelmed about which is best for you. From a quick review you might think they all are essentially the same. It seems many offer free artwork, free shipping and quick production times but there could be some “small text” or caveats to these services. So what are you to do? It’s about asking questions. The first thing you’ll notice from asking questions is the company’s response time which could be a good measure of their customer service. Secondly, find out if their production and manufacturing times are tied to their pricing and because of that their advertised price might not work for you. You’ll occasionally see lower costs for a pin order, much lower than other companies, being associated with incredibly long shipping and turnaround times. Lastly, artwork makes a pin. Literally and figuratively. A great design comes from your starting ideas and the talent of the company’s graphic designers. Just like in any profession, there are levels to graphic design ability and by contacting multiple companies you can find out who has the better touch for your particular design.
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