PEN America

The Freedom to Write

Tronvig work

A newly consolidated name, logo, and tagline gave PEN America a clear, singular organizational message for the first time.


  • Branding
  • Naming
  • Brand messaging
  • Style guide
  • Website redesign & development
  • Strategic planning
  • Core values

“After Tronvig presented the new PEN America brand identity to the full board of directors, it was applauded and unanimously approved. ‘That was something of a miracle!”

Suzanne Nossel / Executive Director, PEN America


PEN American Center was the largest and most influential chapter in the international sisterhood of PEN organizations. However, it had an ad hoc visual brand and a great deal of internal and external confusion as to what kind of organization it actually was and what it represented.


We consolidated the brand while bringing strong internal backing behind a new unifying and singular Brand Idea, “The Freedom to Write.”


There was a strong internal conflict between PEN America’s role as a human rights organization and its role as a literary organization. This was reflected in a bifurcated tagline: “Free Expression. Literature.” The existence of many other PEN organizations could be largely ignored if they asserted a position as the preeminent representative of the PEN brand in America.

Brand Pyramid

1. What is PEN America?

Writers and their allies defending and celebrating free expression.

2. How does PEN America deliver its benefits?

  • Community (that treasures the power of the written word)
  • Advocacy (grounded in research and analysis; mobilizing writers in defense of free expression for all)
  • Cultural programs (highlighting the power of writers and writing to inspire audiences to act on their conscience)

3. Why should I care? (Emotional drivers)

People support or join PEN …

  • out of a love for books and writers
  • to make a difference
  • to celebrate or explore their own cultural background or identity
  • to gain new insights into people and cultures other than their own
  • to be with like-minded people
  • to display cachet/prestige
  • to support and defend creative expression (to express their beliefs)
  • to “certify” themselves as writers
  • to connect to global issues

Donors support PEN …

  • to network
  • to be a part of the fight/join the fight
  • for educational purposes
  • to find an impulse or idea for being more creative in their own lives and work
  • to fight shoulder to shoulder and be activists

4. Core Values

  • Credible
  • Creative
  • Distinctive

5. Brand Idea

The Freedom to Write


The development of the Brand Pyramid that codified their Core Values and unified the organization around a new Brand Idea and tagline “The Freedom to Write” helped us to standardize the organizational name to PEN America. This synthesized the two aspects of the organization around their human rights advocacy work. From this, we consolidated their visual brand expression collaborating with GreyBox Creative.

PEN America


Codified the organizational Core Values and united the staff and board around a new singular Brand Idea and tagline, “The Freedom to Write”


Updated the organizational name from PEN American Center to PEN America


Updated and consolidated their visual brand system

PEN America


Applied the visual brand to various mediums across print and digital


Applied the brand across various different events and movements, including the World Voices Festival yearly event and the Louder Together movement to promote freedom of expression

PEN America