It’s no secret that writing instruments are a powerful promo, with a cost per impression of less than 1/10th of a cent and 50% of consumers owning promotional writing instruments in the US.  Writing is an experience that showcases an individual’s unique preference and style, so we’ve put together a guide help select the perfect instrument for your next promotion.
Read on for everything you need to know about ink technology, imprint methods, materials, components and how BIC Graphic’s position as an industry leader in this category can help set you apart from the competition.
- Imprint Methods
- Features & Characteristics
All About the Ink
While the overall look of a pen is the first thing people notice. . . ink matters! In fact, when consumers ranked pen features they preferred; 3 out of the top 5 were ink characteristics (smooth flow, smudge-proof and waterproof). 
- Ballpoint Ink – A ballpoint tip dispenses ink over a metal ball at its point. The ballpoint pen was first developed as a cleaner, more reliable alternative to fountain pens and is now the world’s most-used writing instrument. Ballpoint ink is comprised of a dye suspended in a solvent of oil to create a smooth write out that is resistant to water after drying. 
- Gel Ink – A gel pen uses ink in which a pigment is suspended in a water-based gel. This creates a thick and opaque look that shows up more clearly on dark or slick surfaces. Gel pens are often used for illustration as well as writing.
- Hybrid Ink – Pens with hybrid ink glide smoothly like a gel pen, but dry instantly like a ballpoint pen to prevent smearing.  Hybrid inks like InstaGlide™ from BIC Graphic NA offer a smooth, consistent write out to offer an upgraded ink formula at no extra charge.
Making a Point
In addition to ink technology, the way a pen writes is also determined by the point on the pen. Different point sizes are suitable for different projects, but people often choose a point size based on personal preference. 
- Fine Point – A fine point pen has a tiny point on the end that creates a precise line, allowing for smaller writing and less chance of bleeding on the paper. The #Z4 BIC® Z4®+ Pen is a customer favorite because the .5mm needle point and comfortable grip help create precised, controlled writing.
- Medium Point – Medium point pens provide a smooth consistency that allows for writing larger than fine point will allow. This point size is a happy medium between fine and bold points to provide the best of both worlds. The #55947 Souvenir® Path Pen is a great example of a medium point pen that provides a smooth write out with style.
- Bold Point – Bold points create a sold line of ink allowing for impactful, large writing to take place. Dark, bold points may bleed through paper but some colors like those in the #VBBOLD BIC® Velocity® Bold Ballpoint truly make an impression with vivid pigments.
When it comes to promotional writing instruments, choosing the right imprint method will help convey your unique message. From full color options to light-up laser engraving, there is an imprint method perfect for your next promotion.
- Screen Print – Screen printing uses an ink-blocking stencil that is applied to a woven mesh. The stencil creates an area that blocks ink transfer resulting in a quick and effective imprint. Screen printing is ideal for designs that are not too intricate and only use a couple of colors. 
- Laser Engraving – A laser beam uses high heat to physically remove the surface of the pen barrel to expose what is underneath.  This cool effect can show color like on the #55856 Woofer Pen or bright shining light through the barrel like on the #55875 Ion Light-Up Pen.
- britePix® Digital Full Color – britePix® applies sharp, clear, photographic quality imprints to create beautiful and distinct imprints in full color. The #TWPSC BIC® Super Clip Pen perfectly showcases britePix® imprints on the extra-large, modern clip.
- Digital Wrap – This process incorporates a wrap around the barrel of the pen to easily and affordably incorporate a full-color, full coverage imprint.
Features & Characteristics
Writing instruments offer a useful and cost-effective way for businesses to promote their products and services, but choosing the right features and characteristics can take a lot of consideration. Evaluating budget, purpose, brand identity and desired impression with your client will help determine their perfect pen promo.
- Plastic – Plastic pens offer a wide variety of styles and imprint methods, and are lower cost, making them the go-to for giveaways. Plastic pens are also lighter so they work well for mailings and give the impression of a business that is practical and affordable.
- Metal – Metal pens are suitable for clients with a flexible budget, and can be more durable than plastic writing instruments. Metal material offers more weight/heft which some clients believe promotes a higher level of quality, making the pen a more memorable keepsake. The #55945 Souvenir® Armor Pen is an aluminum pen with fully rubberized barrel and unique chrome accents for a polished, high-style writing experience.
- Plunger – The plunger is what makes retractable pens work. A spring-loaded ink cartridge retracts and extends out of the barrel by clicking down on the plunger, which then locks into place.
- Barrel – The barrel is the long main part of the body (most often imprinted) that contains the ink reservoir and internal mechanisms.
- Tip – The pen tip is what connects ideas to paper. Ink transfers from the reservoir to through the barrel to the tip and onto paper thanks to gravity. 
- Grip – A grip or textured grip allows the writer to keep their wrist steady while helping to alleviate writing discomfort.
- Clip – A pen clip secures the writing instrument in your pocket, or keeps it from rolling off the table top. More than just functional, the clip is also a stylish and noticeable design element.
- Cap – Caps help keep pens from leaking, slow ink dry out and are vented to comply with safety standards.  The recognizable #RS BIC® Round Stic® Pen is a classic example of a stick ballpoint pen with a cap.
- Plunger Action – Retractable pens with a plunger are some of the most popular promotional items. These pens use an internal spring with thrust device to expose the tip of the writing instrument. The #CS BIC® Clic Stic® is an industry icon and one of our top-selling items across many vertical markets.
- Twist Action – On a twist pen the ink chamber goes through the twist mechanism connecting the ink chamber with the pen tip.
- Multi-Function – Some innovative writing instruments combine actions to provide added value for the end user. The new #55915 Twist-Highligher-Pen Stylus Combo is a twist action, through stylus pen with a convenient highlighter under the cap!
- Plunger Stylus – This capacitive screen stylus sits atop the plunger to easily go from paper to touch screen with a flip of the pen.
- Click-Through Stylus – A click-through stylus is positioned at the bottom of a retractable pen so the tip pushes through, to efficiently go from paper to touch screen with just a click.
Item: #55942 Souvenir® Sol Stylus Pen
Client: Business service provider
Purpose: Improve employee experience
A business services provider implemented a touch screen inventory management/billing system for on-route sales representatives. The company ordered these stylus pens to distribute to employees during the new system launch to help with ease of use in the field. The pens were imprinted with the website and phone number of the technology help desk for the new system.
The employees liked the pens because they could easily transition from paperwork to their hand-held device. The contact information for tech support being imprinted on the pen alleviated phone calls to the wrong department and minimized the amount of time systems were down.
BIC Graphic NA has a writing instrument that will be perfect for your client’s next promotion. Visit bicgraphic.com to see everything we have to offer!