Brand Revival?

Esterbrook Dip-Less taken apart
Not a new Esterbrook

As many of you probably know, the Esterbrook trademark was recently acquired and some new Esterbrook pens are available. (If this is the first you heard of it, don’t get excited). There’s been a long discussion of it on The Fountain Pen Network. And by long I mean it’s currently 17 pages. I admit I haven’t read every post in the thread, probably less than 10% of them. I hate discussions like this because they seem to be a waste of time, at least of my time.
But this bugged me for some reason so I sat down last night with some bourbon and began to write a article about what I thought of it. This isn’t that article, it was four pages long when I stopped, and I wasn’t done. I started the article by saying writing it was a waste of time. The only reason it wasn’t is because I organized my thoughts and cleared my head (maybe that was the bourbon). The new Esterbrook no longer bugs me. Since that’s accomplished I don’t see any point in spending the time typing it up for a post. It would be a waste of my time, and yours to read it. So this isn’t what I wrote and will hopefully be shorter.

If you are curious about the new Esterbrook these two links are well worth your time.
Brian and Lisa Anderson review and show the new Esterbrook J Series in this video. It’s thorough and you should watch to the end where comparisons are made to other pens in the price range.

Leigh Reyes wrote an excellent article that really covers what bothered me most about the new Esterbrook. I didn’t see any connection between the brand message, the brand history and the companies actions. (I’m not sure what the brand message really is, but they keep saying “Americas Original Pen Company.” over and over.) Leigh calls this dissonance. Speaking of a brand disconnect – an Esterbrook pen only available with a medium nib? Really?

I’m not really sure why they bought the Esterbrook trademark. I don’t think the brand is well known outside of vintage pen circles, yet they don’t seem to be marketing towards fountain pen enthusiasts. (Posting old ads or ephemera on Facebook is not marketing to enthusiasts.)

There’s also been some controversy which I’ll skip (so that I don’t have to waste time researching it) but Brian does mention one personal thing in the review.

Esterbrook J Double Jewel
Also not a new Esterbrook

Finally, I have to mention their Kickstarter campaign (no link, but should be easy to find if you insist). I don’t get it. All they did is set up a storefront (with seemingly minimal effort). I’m not sure what they hope to fund. They already have photos showing the pens in stock so they don’t need funding for stocking up yet they say that is what the money is for. They could have really promoted themselves through Kickstarter, especially by offering non-pen rewards that harken back to the Esterbrook heritage. Something that would get the Esterbrook enthusiasts to rally around them. Blotters with old ads printed on them seems like a no-brainer, or even notebooks with the Esterbrook logo on them. Instead they wrote about the old Esterbrook.

It’s the type of Kickstarter project I run away from.

My lunchtime is up so it’s time to get on to more important things. I won’t be buying a new Esterbrook, at least not until things change a lot. Too much of what the company is doing or saying sounds the warning bells for me and I avoid doing business with these companies, even if I end up curious about the product.

7 thoughts on “Brand Revival?

  1. “Posting old ads or ephemera on Facebook is not marketing to enthusiasts.”
    I’d amend that to ‘it’s not marketing to enthusiasts well’.
    They seem to have a nice idea and no idea of how to do it or possibly what it even is.

    • You’re probably right, but I get the impression they’re hoping to invoke nostalgia or “buy American” in non-fountain pen people than to actually court fountain pen enthusiasts. But it could certainly be they aren’t doing it well.

    • Hi Brian,
      Thank you for the review! Same link I used but I should have mentioned the full article. I watched the review on YouTube and didn’t pay attention to the article when I linked.

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  3. the new esterbrook is just…how do i put this nicely. they need a lot of work to recapture the old Esterbrook soul.

  4. I can understand the reluctance of the Esterbrook enthusiast being one but for twenty bucks I can’t be a snob. It’s like buying the old candy brands at Cracker Barrel. Not quite the same but ok.

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