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Parker Pen Brand


  Parker - scripted
May 16, 2005

Since 1892, Parker has been known for making quality fountain pens. George Safford Parker, a schoolteacher from Janesville, Wisconsin, founded the company as a reaction to the unreliable pens of the time. Already on February 10, 1899, a Parker Pen Jointless Lucky Curve was used to sign the Peace Treaty ending the Spanish-American War. Parker pens were to feature in many more official signings since then.
In 1933, Parker, which had at that point become a publicly traded company, introduced its most recognizable trademark: the arrow-style clip, designed by Joseph Platt of New York. Parker kept innovating, releasing its first ballpoint pens in 1954 and the roller ballpoint pen in 1975.

Parker became privately-held in the 1980s, and the Gillette Company took the company over in 1993. Eventually the pen brand landed in the portfolio of Sanford in 2000, alongside Waterman and Rotring.

Parker - scripted Parker's website puts the visitor in the right mood and adequately reinforces the brand. The splash page gives a choice between three connection speeds or an option to simply skip the intro. In terms of usability, the buttons are poorly located at the very bottom of the window; this can put visitors in a state of frustration if they don't open the window in full screen mode. On the other hand, the flash animation stresses that Parker goes beyond the ordinary. The whole innovative collection can surprise the casual visitor.

The warm color palette, based on wood and tobacco tones, provides the right connotations for an upscale product. Not all Parkers are expensive writing devices, but the aficionados that would surf the site are probably seeking to buy or repair high end products. In a competitive environment, the positioning seems perfectly consistent.

What is not as clear are the points of differentiation with sister brand Waterman, another highly respected provider of fine fountain pens. Even at the point of purchase in retail outlets, the brochures and promotions of both Parker and Waterman look and feel exactly the same, in terms of size, paper quality and finish.

With all its tiny imperfections, the Parker website unexpectedly reminds one of a family business rather than an international company. The website is a glossy online brochure, offering the opportunity to browse the collection of pens or to access information on the maintenance and warranty of the products.

Besides promoting its intrinsic beauty, the site is also a customer-service medium. Most Parker pens benefit indeed from an old-fashioned lifetime warranty. At the time of writing this review, a call to Parker's hotline was fast and efficient, with the representative promptly offering to send us a pre-addressing pouch to return a fountain pen for repair. In a time where marketing cynicism is widespread, Parker's warranty questionnaire is remarkably simple and truly refreshing. What’s more, the customer service experience perfectly reinforces the expectations set by the website.

Overall, Parker's marketing is not a case study of perfection. There is undoubtedly some unrealized potential. However, the brand owners clearly understand the brand positioning and manage it accordingly. There is a remarkable consistency between the product, the site and the service.

*Due to the constantly changing environment of websites, some reviews may no longer reflect the current website for this brand.
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