The Genius of the Ikea Pencil

Ikea Pencils

The Ikea pencil seems like a cheap showroom giveaway, but I think it’s a genius brand move. It is the perfect branding tool for Ikea to share their ideas with the public. We could say that It resumes everything Ikea is about. To be clear, I don’t know the agency or team that suggested this pencil be free and available at their stores. I’ve no idea of the motivations, thought processes, or studies that led to the Ikea pencil. I will just be picking it apart, from the outside in, for fun.


The first important thing about this pencil is that it serves a purpose. It helps customers communicate their ideas to the floor representatives. It’s first evident use is to fill in a form requesting a piece of furniture, or describe how it needs to look in words. Need to jot down the Swedish sounding furniture model name and its accompanying number? The Ikea pencil will help you with that.

It can also help you sketch your wildest dreams to the representative. They will help you find the furniture that will approximate to your ideas. You think better in three dimensions? You can use a whole bunch of pencils to make a “model”. Sure, the representatives will look at you funny, but you’ll communicate your thoughts better. …with a pencil on hand, you feel empowered to take action, to engage your brain with your mind and make a mark.


It prompts activity, demands use to fulfill its function. Browsing at a computer on a showroom tall chair might be enough to fulfill your needs. But with a pencil on hand, you feel empowered to take action, to engage your brain with your mind and make a mark. You feel like you should be writing something on that order sheet they also encouraged you to grab. I’ll be going too far if I say that the Ikea pencil helps close sales, but it sort of does. Filling a form with it brings it into the checkout process. And after putting in the work, the next step is to finish what you started and complete the transaction. The pencil makes you a participant in an otherwise passive showroom environment. It ensures you’re confident about what you want because you have already it written down. The small pencil gets the clients in the do it yourself mindset that is such a keystone of the Ikea brand system.


When you grab an Ikea Pencil it comes with a complete experience. It will prompt you to remember the brand when you see the object. If you take it home you will remember the in-store experience when you look at it. Seeing the pencil on your desk, kitchen, dining table, will invoke the brand experience. People who haven’t been to Ikea notice it and ask about it. It’s not a regular sized pencil, it’s half, and that distinction is all you need to make it memorable. Its size also evokes a sensibility on less is more philosophy. Keeping things simple, the wood shows itself naked for all to see. Being the most honest piece of wood you will find in that showroom, they won’t cost you a penny. Which brings me to my next point, they’re…


Take one home. Hell, take 5, who cares, they’re free. If you feel guilty you can buy a set of twelve for a modest price.

Image via Ikea Singapore Facebook

Ikea orders millions of pencils yearly and distributes them to their clients for free. These pencils are an important part of their brand and user experience. And once in a while, the genius pays off. On September 2015, Apple announced it’s new “Pencil” device. Soon after, Ikea Singapur put out an advertisement on their Facebook page. They boasted about it’s writing utensils strongest qualities: familiarity and gratuity. A great response, all thanks to the Ikea pencil.

Image via Florian Alexander Fuchs


A new sport on the internet has surfaced. People started employing Ikea furniture into uses it was not intended for. Remixing the collection in a way that challenges it’s modular construction system. Is it such a surprise the pencil has been subject to this? The pencil’s naked quality begs customization. Or you can just go crazy and make a chair out of them, just because you can.

Few companies have such a purposeful giveaway for their clients. The Ikea Pencil does more than just tote around a logo. It represents the values and characteristics of the Ikea brand. It elevates the brand to something memorable and so simple becomes an indispensable benefit. There’s a lesson to learn about brand coherence design, but we’ll talk about that some other time. Thanks for reading.

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