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Using Unique Custom Awards to Build Your Organization's / Event's Brand & Positioning


Every organization, whether public, private, or non-profit, is a “brand” that needs to deliver a clear, consistent brand message and “promise” to its audiences. And, everything an organization does, both internally and externally, either reinforces that brand message, or dilutes and confuses it. Organizations with exceptionally strong brands understand that “everything” includes more than just those elements traditionally associated with marketing and branding, such as their advertising, website, promotional materials, social media programs, product packaging, etc. It extends to organizational policies, public and media relations, sponsored events, community service, vendor and supplier relations, and employee and HR initiatives.

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With proper foresight, all of these elements can be planned and managed so that they consistently support, and add to, the organization’s brand. Everything is an opportunity to help build the brand, and, when this is done in consistent, regular fashion, the total is truly greater than the sum of the parts.

Recognition awards are no different. Recognition and achievement awards present an excellent opportunity to support an organization’s brand promise, and reinforce its positioning. We have worked with many organizations to design and create unique, custom awards and trophies that adhere to, and even extend, their branding and positioning. These awards have employed a variety of unique design attributes in order to accomplish this. In almost all of these cases, it is a collaborative effort, with both the organization and Bennett Awards working in tandem to come up with the best design possible. We are very proud of the unique, custom awards that we have worked with our customers to create – some are truly “out of the box” and scream originality, yet still stay consistent with the intended brand image. This article will touch on some of these unique, brand-building design approaches.

Using the Organization’s Logo


One of the more common approaches we have taken is to use an organization’s logo as the central design element for the achievement award. One approach is to make this a fairly literal representation of the logo, such as the custom "Justice for All Awards" we created for the Northern California Innocence Project, and the corporate awards we created for Pei Wei, the P.F. Chang subsidiary. An alternative approach is to base these awards on a more abstract, impressionistic interpretation of the logo, such as the family of unique donor recognition awards we designed for the Make A Wish Foundation, and the custom recognition trophies we created for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Using an Organizational Icon


Some organizations have very strong icons that we have used as the foundation of the award design. Some great examples of this include the custom trophy we created for the “Monopoly World Championship”, which featured the Uncle Pennybags (often referred to as the Monopoly Man or Tycoon) character that is featured on Monopoly properties; the “Naturally Remarkable Planters Awards” we designed for Planters, which feature the Mr. Peanut icon traditionally associated with Planters; and the Frisky the Cat sculpture image we used for the “Frisky Awards”, which were created for an Internet cat video competition sponsored by Friskies. Another strong example of this approach is the custom design we created for Diageo’s “Partner of the Year Awards”, which features the “Striding Man” icon associated with Johnnie Walker, one of Diageo’s largest and most recognizable brands.

Using Elements and Symbols Meaningful to the Organization

Often, there are discrete elements or symbols that are meaningful to an organization, and convey a strong message representative of its brand. One example is the recognition award we created for the Wounded Warrior Project’s (WWP) "Carry Forward Awards", which incorporated a backpack sculpture similar to the backpacks WWP provides to wounded service members when they arrive at military trauma units. This award also utilized a base inspired by the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, which was then engraved with the WWP’s logo, credo, and core values. Another great example of this is the World Series of Poker "Chip Reese Trophy", which employed the winning card hand Chip Reese had when he won the inaugural H.O.R.S.E. event that this trophy was created for. Yet another strong example is the award we created for the “Edward R. Morrow Lifetime Achievement in Broadcast Journalism Awards”, which are based on a sculpture representation of the actual microphone Edward R. Murrow used in his broadcasts.

Using Materials Supportive of the Brand Message

Sometimes, the material used to produce the award is a defining element in that award’s brand message. We created an award for CAPCOA (the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association), called the “Climate Legacy Award” (which was given to then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), that was entirely produced using environmentally friendly materials. The main sculpture award was cast in reclaimed pewter, and also incorporated recycled glass and a vintage, recycled metal motorcycle sign (in recognition of Governor Schwarzenegger’s fondness for motorcycles). As another example, we created a custom “Corporate Safety Award” for Lafarge, one the largest construction material companies in North America, that consisted of a hardhat sculpture mounted on a concrete block base, consistent with their industry and image.

Incorporating Actual Items Supportive of the Brand Positioning

In a few cases, we have incorporated actual, physical items that are meaningful to an organization into their awards. We created an executive recognition award for Duke Energy that used an actual turbine used for energy production that was then mounted on a hand-crafted hardwood base. We also created a memorial award for Rousch Yates, the exclusive supplier of Ford Racing engines for NASCAR, that incorporated the actual intake valve spring that came out of the car Matt Kenseth used to the win the 2012 Daytona 500.

Options, Options, Options...

Hopefully these examples give you an idea of some of the unique, interesting and creative approaches we can take to create awards that fully support and enhance your brand message, promise and positioning.