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My pen is out of ink

I like pens, and I have a plethora of them.

This didn’t just start yesterday.

I covet them, and “save” my favorites. I probably have pens that are older than your children. I have pens with different colored inks, ballpoint, sharpie pens, click pens and pens with caps. I have a pen that looks like a log, and another with sparkly liquid and a blue boa feather on top. (a lovely gift from my niece.)

In recent weeks I have become enamored with my Uniball Gel IMPACT pen with the blue ink. It glides across the paper effortlessly. Its thick enough not to make a hole in the paper or huge indentation when I get excited and push too hard. Let’s face it: what I’m writing about can be very exciting sometimes – if only to me.

Today I realized my pen was out of ink. [scary music queued here. the sound of a woman screaming.]

It took me a while to “get that”. I kept going back and “trying to find my cheese in the same place”. I tried to continue to use it. I shook it. I unscrewed to top and added a couple of drops of water to the ink. I replaced the top and shook it again with renewed vigor and hope. I looked at it curiously. I looked at my creative partner. She didn’t look back. It was a kind of desperate, silent communication. Usually she responds to that. Had a broken pen ruined our level of unspoken communication? I think you can see what kind of strange of madness was happening here.

I was bewildered.

I looked through my vast collection of other pens (read: less important). No Uniball Gel IMPACT pen. I went to my savior, the Utility Cabinet. No Uniball Gel IMPACT pen. I went back to my desk and looked in every drawer. No Uniball Gel IMPACT pen. (I did find those dog bone paper clips I like so much..)

But, there was no pen joy.

Not one to dwell, I picked another pen. It took 10 minutes. For real.

Each pen I have has a personality, a reason, a thing it does better than all my other pens. Whether its for color or thickness, or the best pen to suit the story, each pen has a purpose. Try as I might to substitute another, less qualified pen to do the job of the Uniball Gel IMPACT pen, it was a 44 oz. serving of dissatisfaction. I could barely write at all. Each stroke felt like it was a 50 lb. weight in my hand dragging across an uncooperative page.

“With the stroke of a pen”, the pleasure of writing had all but disappeared.

Thankfully, an office supply fairy made a bulk purchase of 4 new Uniball Gel IMPACT pens at lunchtime, and my descent into writing hell was derailed.
Sometimes its the little things, like the tragedy of losing your favorite pen, to bring home how important your brand can be to it’s customers.

Moreover, my pen-tragedy-behavior nicely illustrates the cycle of brand love. But for those of you who don’t think in pictures like me, here it is (start at the top, and move clockwise):

The Cycle of Brand Love
When a person is connected to a brand, no other will do. That commitment is immune to similar products, similar features and/or benefits, price and/or availability. The brand experience (gliding effortlessly, no unnecessary holes or indentations) and ensuing brand trust and loyalty, prevents people from going to the dark side: the competitor.

Even in the face of diminishing brand experience (out of ink), people are catapulted to action in order to feel the brand love again. (buying the bulk pack of Uniball Gel IMPACT pens) Brand love – almost like a drug for some. No one I know, but for some…

Love Is The Drug. Hmm. Wasn’t that a Bryan Ferry Song in the 80’s?

According to a study on peak achievement article entitled, “UNDERSTANDING AND ACTIVATING YOUR BRAIN’S PLEASURE CENTERS” by Jonathan Cowan, Ph.D. and John Starman, MA,

“Having our full measure of happiness powerfully changes our view of life, our reactions to events and situations. It is amazing how different things appear when we are in a state of fear, rage, dire emergency or struggle compared to our experience when in a state of harmony, fulfillment and love. We are all looking for ways to be happy more of the time…and the possibility of influencing the system…”

In reviewing our illustration, you can see that brand love is indeed, a continuous cycle: experience-connection-trust-loyalty-[re]experience. Shower, rinse, repeat. The drive to reconnect with a brand experience inspires your audience to actively reconnect with your brand. After my pen-tragedy-behavior this morning, I can assure you that brand love is like a drug. Come hell or high water, nothing was going to keep me from my Uniball Gel IMPACT pens.

Does your brand inspire that kind of love, loyalty, connection and action in your customers?

I’ve heard that if its not “hell yes!”, its “no”. What are your thoughts?

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