In the world of Promo the pen is mightier than the sword.

In fact, pens are easily one of the most recognised promotional products out there (for a good reason).

Commonly used as a replacement to business cards or for general marketing, they tick all the boxes for an effective branded product. Promotional pens are:

  • Practical
  • Have a low cost per impression
  • Are available in hundreds of styles
  • Work for just about every industry/brand

So what makes a good promotional pen and how do you choose the right option for your brand? This guide is going to cover everything you will ever want to know about the promotional pen.

Types Of Pens Available

Ballpoint Pens 🌟

Ballpoint pens are easily the most popular choice in the promo space. They work by using oil-based ink flowing over a metal ball that then applies to a surface. They usually have a click or twist mechanism as the ink will not easily dry out.

Ballpoint pen

Rollerball Pens

Rollerball pens also use a ball to apply ink. This ink is water-based and provides a smoother writing experience but the ink dries out much quicker so these pens usually have a separate cap that needs to be used.

Rollerball pen

Gel Pens

Gel pens use a pigment suspended in a water-based gel. This allows the ink to be vibrant and precise. However, these inks tend to skip more and the ink has a longer drying time.

Gel pen

Highlighter Pens

Highlighter pens commonly utilise a felt tip or wax and have vivid ink colours. They are fast to dry and allow text or objects below to stand out without obscuring them. These are perfect for highlighting an important section of text or notes.

Highlighter pen

Marker Pens

Markers apply ink via their compressed soft tip. Marker ink usually permanent and can be applied to most surfaces such as glass, wood, plastic and metal.

Marker pen

Stylus Pens

Stylus pens have a stylus tip or stylus capabilities. They can be used with touch screen devices such as a tablet or mobile phone. These styles of pens usually have a ballpoint writing mechanism and are available in plastic or metal.

Stylus pen

Pen Material

The make of the pen says a lot about the quality as well as how it feels in the hand. Metal vs Plastic when should you choose each?

Metal pen material


Metal pens are commonly made from aluminium but can also be made from brass, stainless steel and other metals. These pens usually have a heavier feel in the hand and a longer useful life.

Metal pens tend to be a little more expensive than their plastic counterparts and can also be laser engraved. Great as a corporate gift or long-term promotions.

Shop Promotional Metal Pen Styles 👈

Plastic pen material


Due to the way plastic pens are created they have more flexibility in their shape and are available in much more vibrant colours.

Plastic pens are usually lighter in hand and less expensive than their metal counterparts, however, they do not have the same value perception and cannot be laser engraved. Great as an eye-catching giveaway item.

Shop Promotional Plastic Pen Styles 👈


Just like the material the style of pen plays a role in the value perception of the pen and helps to protect against unwanted pen leaks.

Click Action Pens

These pens have a “click” action mechanism that will hide and reveal the nib by pressing the button usually located at the end of the barrel. Popular with ballpoint pens.

Click action pens

Twist Action Pens

Twist action pens are as the name implies pens that will reveal or hide the pen nib by the twist of the barrel. A great way for metal pens to keep their design aesthetic while still keeping the functionality.

Twist action pens

Removable Cap Pens

Pens with removable caps are usually rollerball pens which are very nice to write with. But if you lose the cap the ink inside will likely dry up quickly. To prevent this the caps can usually be stored on the other end of the pen.

Removable cap pens

Barrel Shape

The shape of the barrel influences how the product can be decorated as well as how it feels to write with. Pens usually come in two general barrel shapes:

Cylindrical pen


A sleek style that’s usually fairly narrow and comfortable to use. These cylindrical shapes are common with metal pens where it is not easy to have a contoured shape.

Contoured barrel pen


This is a common design style with plastic pens and creates a visually appealing shape that’s also comfortable to write with.


Most pens don’t need a dedicated grip to be effective. But for those writing for an extended period of time, it’s worth considering.

No Grip

A large portion of pens now do not have a dedicated grip. Even though the pen doesn’t have a grip they are still generally comfortable to write with but may not be best for long periods.

No grip pen

Grip On The Barrel

Some pens incorporate a grip into their design for both visual appeal and practicality. The grips are commonly made from plastic or silicone.

Grip on pen barrel

Ink Capacity

The more ink the pen has the longer it will likely be used. Don’t get caught out on buying a great looking pen that doesn’t have the ink capacity to match.

Less than 1000m of ink

Less than 1000m of ink

Pens with less than 1000m of ink are generally intended as a low-cost giveaway. We generally recommend you avoid this unless it’s only intended to be used for a short amount of time.

1000 - 3000m ink

1000m to 3000m of ink

The majority of promotional pens will fall into this category. They’re a great value tradeoff between price and useful life expectancy.

Greater than 3000m ink

Greater than 3000m of ink

Any pen that has over 3000m of ink is going to last for ages. Some of our favourite pens fall into this category. Look out for pens that fit this criterion.

Ink Colour

In the promo pen space, about 90% of pens are available with black ink only with some colour options available in certain styles.

Black Ink

The large majority of branded pens available use a black ink cartridge. Can be used for just about everything.

Black coloured ink

Blue Ink

Some pens are also available with blue ink. It’s common in some of the more premium styles. These ink colour pens will stand out on the page more but are not allowed on some legal documents.

Blue coloured ink

Coloured Ink

Some pens have the option of coloured ink, such as a four in one pen which includes black, blue, red and green ink. Great for separating ideas into different colours.

Green coloured ink

Pen Branding Options

How does your logo get added and where? This is a common question we get by customers looking to create their first promotional pen.

Pad print decoration

Pad Print

Pad printing uses a silicone pad to transfer an image to a product from a laser etched printing plate. It works great on pens because it can be applied to curved surfaces and is very economical.

Pad printing is available on both metal and plastic pens.

Laser engraving decoration

Laser Engraving

Laser engraving is a permanent branding process that engraves artwork onto the surface of a metal product using a laser. Laser engraving will never wear off and provides a high perceived value at a great value price.

Laser engraving is only available on metal pens and what we usually recommend.

Digital decoration print example

Digital Print (Full Colour Print)

This print process involves transferring ink directly from the print heads of an inkjet machine to the product, creating a high-quality vibrant image. Can be used on flat or slightly curved surfaces.

Digital printing is available on select style plastic and metal pens styles.

Decoration Area

Some of the most important questions you should be thinking about when ordering promotional pens. How is your logo going to look, how big can it be and should you get it branded on one side or both sides?

The decoration area of a pen is the location and size in which it can be decorated. This is dictated by the shape of the barrel and the decoration method used on the pen.

Most pens will have a decoration area similar to the example below with branding along the barrel or located on the clip. Pens have the option of being branded in one location or multiple locations, allowing you to display a lot of information.

Before your order of pens goes into production you will receive a “virtual proof” which shows to scale exactly how your logo will appear on the product and what colour it will be.

Pen decoration area example
Example branding areas for a popular pen style

What Should You Have Branded On Your Pens?

There is no wrong answer for what to include on your pens but we usually recommend adding your logo as well as more of the below if applicable.

  • Website URL
  • Company name
  • Brand slogan or marketing message
  • Other contact information such as phone number or address
  • Social media handles

Gift Presentations

The large majority of pens are not going to be supplied with a gift presentation but for the upmarket options that are given away as a corporate gift, they’re a smart way to add perceived value to the product.

Cardboard Sleeve

A simple eco-friendly cardboard sleeve that’s usually pretty economical and looks great with branding. It won’t however have the same “wow” factor as a gift box.

Cardboard pen sleeve

Velvet Pen Sleeve

Velvet sleeves are a great option because it also protects the pen from scratches and smudging. These are usually not available with a print.

Velvent pen sleeve

Cardboard Gift Box

A nice way to add some added value perception for the pen and make it a nice gifting experience. This is usually a simple black box and reasonably economical.

Cardboard pen gift box

Premium Gift Boxes

The Crème de la crème of pen presentation (best of the best). These gift boxes are usually a bit more expensive so only reserved for premium pens and can usually be custom branded or are brand name specific.

Premium pen gift box

Summing Up

A pen is often one of the first things someone will think about regarding Promotional products (for a good reason).

There are a number of ways a promotional pen can differ but if you pay attention to the ink capacity, colour and style you can usually find a great option for promoting your brand.

You can view our entire range of Promotional Pens here or speak directly with one of our team to answer any of your questions or get started on creating some custom pens or other products with your logo today.

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