Zebra – What’s in a name

Backwards Zebra1When we tell people that Zebra Pen is a brand that has been creating stationery for 117 years, they often seem surprised. I’m not sure if that’s because our writing instruments have a modern edge or whether it’s our funky branding that keeps us young, but the story behind why Zebra is a zebra at all is steeped in rich history. It’s a story that we’d love to tell as we approach National Stationery Week – a time where storytelling, writing and communicating is at the fore of our thinking.

In 1897 when our company was founded in Japan, our first president, Tokumatsu Ishikawa, manufactured and sold the first domestically produced steel nibs in Japan. You can imagine what a stir this must have caused, over a century ago! Trial, expertise and perseverance were what led to the creation of those first nibs, and that ethos is something that we still hold on to today. Our head office still stands in the same place, in Higashi-Gokencho, Tokyo; we don’t forget our humble beginnings!

So where does the zebra come in? The calm and peaceful zebra lives in the highlands of Africa, possessing no weapons to fight its natural enemies. The secret to longevity for this animal is zebras1herding; pulling together to create a sum greater than its parts. This is how Zebra Pen operates – all members of the company here share a sense of togetherness and solidarity in making pens that develop and improve culture.

The zebra in our original trademark shows our stripy friend looking backwards. This symbolises that the knowledge accumulated in the past is always called upon to make progress in new fields. Zebra is a forward thinking company, but one that is sure not to forget its heritage or what has gone before. Harmony, unity and trust are integral to the success of the zebra, and those elements are integral to our own Zebra too.

As National Stationery Week draws closer, we’re reminded of the importance of picking up a pen and communicating our messages. Words such as your name, or ours, say much more than the handful of letters we write on the page. If modern technology has taught us anything, it’s that we can tell an entire story in as little as 140 characters on a tweet, or on a Facebook status. But we believe that our true message and story can be told in only five small letters:


Posted on 22nd January 2014 by Katie Dixon - Zebra Pen (UK)