Everyone loves receiving awards and accolades. In addition to the acknowledgment of achievement, the shape of the award itself can epitomize excellence. For example, both the Oscars and the Grammy Awards are iconic symbols and provide instant cultural capital. Whether you wish to give out a trophy or medallion, a look at the top award shapes and what they symbolize can help you provide the best recognition for your awardee.
Top Award Shapes and Meanings
The cup is an excellent option for sports trophies. Cups symbolize community, sharing, and teamwork. Historians believe that this symbol arose from eras in which teammates drank from the same cup to show camaraderie at sports clubs and lodges. It may also reference the trustworthy “cupbearer” found in societies with kings and royal monarchies. The cup is a classic trophy shape found in sports like tennis, hockey, lacrosse, horse racing, rugby, soccer, and golf. Whether shared among teammates or passed down to future champions, the cup is the ultimate symbol of sportsmanship.
The circle or oval symbolizes continuation and dedication. Many historical cultures believed that because the circle is round, it has “neither a beginning nor an end.” This award shape is a great way to acknowledge the ongoing work of an awardee. Many organizations use the same for service awards or employee anniversaries. Because the silhouette matches most circular logos, circles also make great custom awards such as paperweights, plaques, and medallions.
Diamond shapes signify rarity and excellence. Companies and organizations often reserve this shape for leaders and distinguished individuals. Awards cut into the shape of crystals, gems, or diamonds can also capture more light during display. These cuts offer a powerful way to create distinction and recognition.
The flame symbolizes trailblazing work and leadership. In the ancient world, the flame symbolized life, passion, and vitality. As a classical element of Greek philosophy and science, fire was essential for survival tasks like cooking, heating, and cleanliness. Receiving a flame meant that individuals had a “fire” within them to accomplish great things. Similarly, modern flame awards often commemorate individuals whose performance and personal drive have helped or inspired others.
Icebergs represent depth and substance that goes far beneath the surface. These awards are as clear as glass and intended for prominent display. Most recipients display iceberg-shaped awards on office desks or mantlepieces. The iceberg shape is a sophisticated way to honor unsung heroes in companies and organizations. This type of award is also popular for commemorating career milestones or lifetime achievements.
Pillars and obelisks symbolize monumental achievements. In the ancient world, pillars upheld important buildings and temples, and obelisks represented pathways to heaven. For example, the obelisk was an ancient symbol of the sun god Ra. In the modern world, these awards signify power and prestige. They can acknowledge financial contributions, construction projects, endowments, or namesake recognition. Pillars also make great corporate gifts and upper-level management awards.
Admired for its speed and efficiency, the rocket is an attractive shape for awards. Many groups like to use the rocket shape to commemorate organizations in the science or tech industries. The rocket shape is also a way to acknowledge self-starters who always complete their tasks on time. Finally, the rocket is a congratulatory symbol for any new launch or venture in the business world.
Squares and rectangles are the most common shapes of award certificates. In the corporate world, the square is the traditional shape of a “financial tombstone” or “deal toy.” These mementos celebrate completed transactions such as mergers, acquisitions, partnerships, IPOs, and successful fundraisers. A square is also an easy option for company branding and engraving accomplishments.
Triangles and pyramids represent overcoming obstacles and achieving great feats. Reminiscent of “climbing every mountain,” the triangle shape can represent pivotal or history-making moments in a person’s life or company. A triangular award is a checkpoint of recognition. Great uses for the triangle shape include grand openings, ribbon-cutting ceremonies, or 10-year business anniversaries.
The Bottom Line
Awards provide high achievers with recognition for their work and accomplishments. While the award is an important acknowledgment in itself, the shape of an award can signify the nature of the achievement. Choosing the best award shape can help companies and organizations make the most of their special commendations.