Monday, September 30, 2013

Are You Black Or Blue?

Teaching art at the elementary level requires quick change of grade levels in a matter of minutes, therefore I always kept a basket on the table with scissors, a sharpie, pencil and a crayon because usually one of those things would be needed for class. My K-1 kids were always asking “what I can use to write my name on the back of my paper? Labeling the paper with a specific “tool” was not a reason to impose a “rule” so I’d often reply “as long as I can read it, and it’s on the back of your paper-make yourself happy.”

Writing instruments top the list every year for the most kept and useful promotional piece. According to Advertising Specialty Institutes’ annual global research for 2012, 50% of consumers have a branded writing instrument. Women are more likely to own a branded piece at 52% edging out men. While writing instruments performed high across all age brackets, those 55 and older had the most regard for receiving a writing instrument coming in at 56%.

Given all of the choices for promotional writing instruments I have at my fingertips, I too have my favorites, but tend to rotate among several. What do I prefer? For me a pen just needs to write smoothly and be easy to hold. I prefer a wider body without a grip, sleek color combinations like the ones with a contrasting trim pop. My retractable sharpies are great, they are bold and the click to apply over removing the cap makes work easy. Dual functions such as highlighters, USB combo’s or the new stylus tips are very hot with our clients; also the wax highlighters because the ink does not dry out. Clearly choice is important.

However, what mystifies me is debate over black versus blue ink. We have some clients in professions like law that prefer blue ink because it’s easier to identify the original document over the copy signed in blue ink. However many of my clients worry about the color of the ink on 1,000 pens that they plan to give away! We’ve had to start searching again based on ink color for a low cost mass distribution.  I’ve asked before, “What if 900 of the folks you are giving this pen to prefer the black ink, when you really want the ink to be blue? In response I usually hear “but I prefer blue and I think other people do too.” I recently asked some of our face book friends to weigh on this issue; here are some of their replies:

Jim says: “Black for everything except... Blue for letter (hand written notes) writing... Red for correcting...”

Bekki said: “Business - blue - so I know what is original. Personally- anything color for fun, not black.”

Who won? No one…for every black ink preference there was a vote for blue to counter.

Whether you like black or blue ink, rest assured there are choices in gels, roller balls and ball point tips. Some suppliers offer options for re-fill cartridges even on their most economical pens. Do you have a favorite name brand? We probably carry it; just ask. While there are many suppliers that offer pens, we have selected a few core groups that focus on just writing instruments or offer well known name brand pieces associated with quality. Why? Think about it if all you focus on is a writing instrument one would tend to think that supplier has identified the most requested and appreciated aspects for quality, construction, color, design and price at every price point.

As we move into the holidays, pens will be given as signature executive pieces by some of our clients. Given the statistics provided by ASI, a pen will continue to be a smart choice for branded gifts. However, keep in mind that while I will collaborate with you to align with your goals and objectives for writing instruments, may never understand why the ink color matters. Keep the debates going by replying to this blog post! I am enjoying your responses and collecting your data for client feedback; but beware my raw notes might be in crayon.

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