LEUCHTTURM1917 (pronounced ‘loysh-term’) is a family-run company managed by fourth-generation German stationers and backed by almost a century’s experience producing high-quality paper goods.
This year the business is celebrating its 100th birthday. The company was established in Germany in 1917 where it continues its production today. Axel and Max Stürken took over management at the end of the 1990s as the fourth generation to head the traditional Hanseatic company.
We are excited to share an interview with LEUCHTTURM1917 team members: Axel and Max. We learn about the company’s history, their vision and how they ensure their tagline ‘details make all the difference’ is met on their products.
Q1. You’ve both been with the family business since 1992 (Axel) and 1998 (Max) – is your vision any different today than when you started?
When we started we were thrown in at the deep end. We learned the business from scratch and are still always learning. Both of us started with the vision to continue growing – as individuals as well as for the company as a whole – and to never lose our drive for perfection. In order to run a successful business, we constantly need to adjust to changing circumstances; but our overall vision is still the same.
2. The LEUCHTTURM1917 notebook brand was established in 2005. Why did the company decide to take on a new notebook brand at this stage?
We are passionate notebook users and were always looking for functional yet modern notebooks to use ourselves. However we never found the perfect product so the idea began to grow to create our own notebook brand. With the knowledge we already had, lots of market research and a new team member, Philip Döbler, we created the notebook branch. The success that the notebooks are having worldwide proves that we had the right instinct.
3. There are so many notebook and paper brands in the market. How do you ensure your brand stands out from the crowd?
LEUCHTTURM1917 is based on quality and functionality with a modern appearance. Important characteristics are the paper quality as well as the many options that we are offering concerning colours, size and rulings. These combined create an individual notebook that is perfect for many different uses.
Another aspect is the functionality. With two page markers, a pocket in the back for loose paper or cards and many more details the books support their users in organising their daily life instead of adding another task to take care of. The combination of these characteristics make LEUCHTTURM1917 a unique brand that is clearly different from other brands in the segment.
4. All products within the LEUCHTTURM1917 range are united by the belief that success stems from quality and well thought-out detailed solutions. Your tagline says it all: Details Make All the Difference. How do you adhere to this system? Why do you think it’s details that make all the difference?
We are constantly researching and listening to our customers to improve our books.
For example: most notebooks have one page marker. However, a lot of people need a second one since they have more information that they want to have direct access to. They were using different techniques to ‘create’ a second page marker, which means working on the notebook before it can be really used. We heard about the problem and – after a lot of research and trial and error – started integrating a second page marker that differs slightly in colour. It is just a small detail that helps the user to structure his notebook.
Furthermore, we are offering an elastic band to keep the book closed when it is not in use, a pocket in the back for loose paper or business cards, perforated sheets in the back of the book because sometimes a note needs to be given away and stickers for labelling and archiving the books. These details seem small but they are extremely helpful in daily life. And these details are part of our success since they create customers who are loyal users of LEUCHTTURM1917 notebooks.
5. Do you hear from your customers? What sort of people are they and what appeals to them about the notebooks?
We are constantly talking to our customers and getting a lot of feedback from different channels such as direct contact with our sales team or from social media. We have a very heterogeneous group of customers. People who are using the books for sketching, for business meetings, as diaries or as Bullet Journals. The notebook is their companion for some time or even a year or more. They love the quality and the multiple variations that we offer because everyone can find the notebooks that is best for his or her needs.
6. The colour notebooks within the range lend themselves to having a collector’s presence. How important was it to the brand to introduce vibrant coloured notebooks that complement and create awareness to the range?
We did not only want to offer casual black notebooks but a variety of colours so that everyone can choose their favourite.
This led us to a current range of 17 colours that vary from rather reserved colours such as Sand or Anthracite to flashy and vibrant colour such as Lemon or New Pink. The colour range is updated regularly with new colours. The notebook is not only seen as a functional tool, but as a stylish and modern accessory.
We are furthermore offering Limited editions that offer special features. For example, our 1917 Metallic Edition comes in the Metallic colours Gold, Silver and Copper. Last year we were offering the Limited Edition Copper Summer that featured three books with embossing on the cover and a copper-gilt edge.
7. Do you find living in a “digital world” has had a negative impact on the notebook? Do you feel the need to bridge a gap between analogue and digital or do you think there’s a yearning to hold onto the tactile experience of pen and paper?
The digital world had an impact on the notebook, but it shouldn’t be characterised as negative. It just means that the way a notebook is used has changed. Since handwritten notes have become more special, the notebook has gotten more value. It has also become something more intimate and personal. People have higher expectations about quality and functionality.
However, there have been two developments that really connect the analog and the digital world:
1) Products that can be transferred to digital media via apps or scans such as our Whitelines Link products. They can be digitalised with an app and shared easily. This helps when taking notes that need to be sent out afterwards or sketches that should be shared with people around the globe.
2) Strategies and layouts of how to use a notebook. An ever-growing community of Bullet Journalists and sketchers show their work online. For example the community of Bullet Journalists are using the notebook to increase their efficiency and to structure daily life. In sharing their ideas, they are inspiring others to use a notebook as well. They are a fast growing group of people who are closely connected via Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.
8. What are you future plans for LEUCHTTURM1917? Is there anything exciting to look forward to?
LEUCHTTURM1917 is growing steady and we are certain that this will continue. As for products we are always keeping a steady pace, offering new colours, improving existing products and creating new products.
We are a team of very creative, passionate people that continuously work on new ideas.