How To Select The Right Pen For Your Brand

The hotel pen ranks as an item guests most frequently take home with them, ending up in purses, briefcases, offices and kitchens months after their stay. This is a powerful brand interaction for such a small investment per guest.

There are a variety of aspects to consider in order to select the pen that meets your needs; the process can be time consuming and overwhelming. The selection can seem endless, and the wrong match could have a negative impact on your brand and budget.

In this article, our experts weigh in on how to simplify your search and define a process that will greatly increase your likelihood of finding the perfect pen.

“The likelihood of a seamless execution of a complex, property-specific print collateral program is determined in its early stages. Careful planning, an experienced print partner and proper communication are the keys to a successful implementation.”
– Linda anderson, A S Hospitality Director, Client Development & Account Services

Develop Your Selection Framework

Before beginning your search, it is best to develop a selection framework to use as your road map in navigating the hundreds of thousands of pen options. This will drastically narrow your choices to a much more targeted and manageable selection of candidates.

In order to develop this list, you must already understand your audience, context, budget and most importantly, your brand. Here is a list of “must -knows” in order to build your framework:

Audience: Who is the intended recipient of the pen?

Context: Is this an in-room pen, VIP gift, event giveaway, or meeting room pen?

Quantity and Usage: What quantity is needed? How frequently will this quantity need to be ordered?

Budget: What amount is budgeted for this item?

With this information in hand, you are ready to develop your framework. We have outlined six key areas in which to identify preference prior to embarking on your search.

Develop Your Selection Framework

By taking the necessary steps to build a structured flow of communication, you exponentially increase the likelihood of meeting your program goals.

Brand Alignment

It is important the design of your pen be consistent with the visual cues of your brand. Develop a list of descriptive words to define your ideal pen aesthetic. Should your pen have a sleek, clean and modern design? Or, should it be classic and more traditional with detailed accents?

Color is an option that will greatly reduce your range of choices. Determine which shades are suitable for your pen, and don’t simply stop at brand colors. For example, targeting a specific shade of plum or teal will very narrowly limit your selection. Determine if silver, gold or black will also be acceptable options. Your brand PMS colors can then be featured in the logo imprint, thus allowing options that meet your style and price requirements.

“Pay attention to the lines of the design. If your logo or brand pattern has a geometric feel, select pens that are consistent with those lines. This can be in the form of the overall outline of the pen, clip, seams, accents, cap or grip.”
– Clare Cochran, Dexter Solutions, Hospitality Marketing Manager

Hint: If you find a pen that meets your needs with the exception of one design detail, you may be able to order a customized version. Some manufacturers will work with you to modify a feature to suit your preferences.

Style: Cap, Click or Twist

Determining the appropriate style of your pen really depends on the preference of your audience and your brand style. For example, a two-toned plastic click pen may not be sophisticated or stylish enough to suit your brand or the preferences of your guest.

“Many brands are moving away from capped pens for in-room. When the pen and cap become separated, housekeeping will toss partial pen parts, replacing it with a new pen. This increases your expenses and doesn’t support your Eco-friendly programs.”
– Phyllis Abraham, A S Hospitality, Account Director

Per Piece Price

Understand your targeted per piece price from the get-go. Have a firm handle on your budget for this item as well as your annual usage in order to target your required range. As with most things, reaching a level of scale will greatly reduce your price per pen.

Hint: Don’t forget about packaging. If this is a gift pen, you will likely need a matching case, pouch or box. This needs to be figured into your price point.

The Twitter handle @Hotel_Pens is a showcase of pens collected from properties around the globe, featuring 117 pen images and currently has 3080 followers. This is a great resource to view what other brands are doing in the pen department.


Pens are made in a wide variety of materials, from acrylic to carbon fiber and mother of pearl to shell. The most common include plastic, brass, aluminum and wood.

Plastic pens will be your most budget friendly options, and offer a wide selection of styles. Many plastic options can provide you with the appearance of metal at a lower cost, however will generally be lightweight.

These materials are usually the go-to material for luxury brands. Metal and brass options provide the weight that connotes quality. Aluminum options provide attractive designs at a lower pricepoint, but will not be as hefty.

There are an increasing number of environmentally friendly pen options. Pens with barrels made of recycled paper and plastic trim and accents are becoming increasingly popular. Bamboo pens are also a natural and sustainable option, and available in trendy designs.


An aspect that is often overlooked is the weight of a pen. A pen weighing less than an ounce will not have the perception of quality like a more substantial pen. It is generally more acceptable to have a lightweight guest room pen, as opposed to pens given as gifts. When it comes to VIP pens, weight should be a definite consideration.

Hint: Always order samples. Even if your supplier identifies the weight of the pen, it is difficult to judge until you hold it in your hand.

“You can’t judge quality from a picture, so you must always order samples. A pen can look great in an image, but can turn out to be lightweight, not write smoothly or fall apart after just a few uses.”
– Linda Anderson, A S Hospitality, Director, Client Development & Account Services


Pen imprint colors and methods usually end up being an afterthought. In order to properly “design” your pen we recommend beginning your search with a clear understanding of which logo version will be used, as well as predetermined color and method preference.

Laser etched, metallic and tone-on-tone imprints are good considerations for a luxury brand. Pens with barrels featuring custom mold, or pens with full wrap imprint areas are ideal for brands with strong brand patterns.

Hint: Request samples featuring your selected imprint method to make sure the imprint does not easily rub or scratch off.

“The pen should be treated as an accessory that matches its surroundings. It is very important to know the setting in which the pen will be displayed when making selections. It is part of the puzzle that makes up the guest experience.”
– Brian Clanton, A S Hospitality, Director, Account Management

Additional Considerations

As you make your final selections, here are a couple additional considerations:

Confirm Product Lifetime.
You may find a pen you love and then learn a month or two later that the pen has been discontinued. Always confirm with your supplier whether the pen is slated to be discontinued.

Consider Pairings and Setting.
Place pen samples in the setting they will be displayed, or pair with the appropriate notepads or stationery sets to preview the end result. This may help you in making your final decision.


Beginning your search with a defined selection framework will guide you to your best options. Our experts advise to plan ahead and be patient. This is not a process that can be rushed, and the time invested in your search will pay off in the end with a great find. A supplier partner who understands your brand, audience and industry. can help handle these details for you.