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3 Lessons in Exceptional Brand Experience (thanks Montblanc)

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

I want to share something special with you.

Something my partner, Dr. Ivan Joseph, and I have termed ‘A Montblanc Experience’.

You are likely familiar with the Montblanc brand: Status symbol, luxury writing instrument, (Montblanc doesn’t use the word ‘pen’). Recognizable by its torpedo shape, the rounded star symbol on the cap that represents the snow-covered peak of Mont Blanc—the highest mountain in Europe.

Without doubt, this is a spectacular piece of timeless craftsmanship.

But what captivated us was the experience of purchasing a Montblanc.

The setting was a snowy Montreal afternoon. A black-walled boutique with moody lighting. We had booked an appointment.

The door opened and we were greeted by an elegantly dressed woman who would have fit nicely into The Wynn Macau. Red-bottomed heels and white gloves.

Luxury at every glance.

The shopping experience was not rushed at all, but rather we felt a beckoning to linger longer, to investigate further.

Once we had chosen some options to view, our hostess/saleswoman invited us to test them. Soft white parchment was unfurled from a black leather binder. She encouraged me to write in cursive.

She asked me how the instrument felt in my hand. Was it the right size? Too heavy or light? How did I feel about the shade of black coming from the calligraphy tip?

Once we had sampled several offerings—with names like The Marilyn Monroe Muse, (with a pearl topper), Le Petit Prince Solitaire, and the Heritage Rouge et Noir Spider Metamorphosis Limited Edition (ringing in at a cool $4k)—a decision was made. ‘The Bonheur Boyfriend’; simple and elegant, compact and glossy black. The accompanying pamphlet, (more like a novella), described it as:

“Akin to a little black dress, this writing instrument is a knockout in any woman's handbag.”

They had me at LBD.

The gift wrap was exquisite. Almost matte black with a light sheen and a broad ribbon. No tape in sight. It felt like Christmas morning.

You might be thinking: OK, so you bought a bougie pen. So what?

Well, although the pen is lovely, it was the experience that stuck with us. It was so impressive that we decided to model our business and brand practices after Montblanc.

Here are some specifics as to how we hold up the Montblanc Experience ‘bar’ as a means of quality assurance in everything we do:

1. Develop an unwavering personal brand that aligns with your values.

More than just a logo, a personal brand includes a look, a style, and a feel. A set of ideas that serve as a guiding light.

With the Montblanc experience, it was luxury from tip to tail. The boutique’s decor, music, ambient lighting, packaging, and apparel of salespeople… consistent.

For us, we aimed for everything that we create to honor our principles:

  • We create VALUE

  • We are committed to EXCELLENCE


  • We speak the TRUTH

  • We are KIND

  • FUN is important to us

2. Go above and beyond to exceed expectations.

Being extra attentive to detail can go a long way.

The small gestures we aren’t expecting—but are always welcome—humanize the otherwise humdrum service experience.

They are what we walk away thinking and talking about. Delivering personalized services is one of the most powerful things any business can do. (Note: this is especially true with millennial buyers who are quick to publically evangelize or besmirch brands). Organizations that can motivate their people to exceed expectations in delivering great service will find exponential returns in every notch above the status quo.

3. Ask for and value feedback.

Following our Montblanc purchase, we received a handwritten note of thanks from the boutique manager, and an invitation to provide feedback via a simple online survey. Aces. Of course we would provide glowing feedback after all they had done!

Feedback is crucial. Even (and perhaps especially), negative feedback, as it is best viewed as an invitation to improve.

Loyalty is won by providing exceptional, memorable connections. By committing to our brand, going above and beyond, and welcoming feedback, we aim to create top-notch experiences that will exceed expectations in every step of the customer journey.


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