Ode to a Moleskine® – Mini Marketing Case Study


I’m not sure when I became obsessed with Moleskine® notebooks but clearly, I’m not the only one.  As a child, I probably watched an actor in an old black and white thoughtfully tucking one into his knapsack as zebra wandered past on the African veldt, and fell in love.  But they’ve become my journal of choice.  Yesterday, as I was putting a museum receipt into my Moleskine’s back pocket, I noticed an unfamiliar booklet.  Here’s what it said:

“The Moleskine® notebook is the heir and successor to the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two centuries: among them Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin.  A simple black rectangle with rounded corners, an elastic page-holder, and an internal expandable pocket: a nameless object with a spare perfection all its own, produced for over a century…  A trusted and handy travel companion, the notebook held invaluable sketches, notes, and ideas that would one day become famous paintings or the pages of beloved books…”

What fantastic branding for blank paper bound in a plain black cover!  Somehow the concept of the Moleskine® as a well-worn tool of adventurers, artists, and literary greats had burrowed its way into my subconscious, without ever having read the company’s marketing materials.  (I don’t want to think about what that says about my self-image).

Curious about their marketing, I checked out their website.   The firm does a rocking job with social media, making extensive use of YouTube.  They even have a YouTube video about their YouTube videos.  If you go to YouTube and look up Moleskine®, however, you’ll see lots of Moleskine® videos produced by users.  Clearly, they’ve done a great job of getting people passionate about little black books.

Even cooler, the website invites Moleskine users to submit pictures of what they’ve drawn/collaged/whatever into their notebooks.  (These works of paper art make me feel a bit like I’ve been desecrating my own notebook – even I have a hard time deciphering my handwriting.)

This is a company that understands the power of social media.

Product development?  Let’s talk niche marketing – they’ve created Moleskine’s for all sorts of interests: travel, dogs, movies, books, recipes, fashion…  Acknowledging that the world is going digital, Moleskine® has even created covers for iPads, eBook readers, and the like that integrate paper notebooks with your electronic hardware.

If I was back in business school, I’d do a case study on the company.  But instead, I urge you to check out their website and get inspired.  There’s a lot to learn from the way they market paper notebooks.

Mini- case study questions:  

  • How would you describe this company’s brand image?
  • Does this company’s social media efforts support its brand image ?  If so, how?

MOLESKINE ® is a trademark registered by Moleskine S.r.l.


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