Today we updated the “thoughts” section of our website with a new design.
In addition to providing the thought behind the update, I would also like to explain how the “thoughts” section fits into our overall communication strategy, and for this, we need to take a step back and get the overview.
Communication at ochs und junior
The main way we communicate Ludwig Oechslin’s watches is through the ochs und junior website. We also communicate his watches through newsletters, press releases, Facebook posts, speaking invitations around Lucerne, and the tiny 50mm font on the door of our workshop at Zürichstrasse 49 – we do no paid advertising or other marketing activities.
What ties the communication methods we use together?
They are all in a sense “passive”. They all wait for the client (or an interested press member) to initiate contact with ochs und junior.
ochs und junior does not catch its customers, it is found by its customers.
Why do we approach communication in this oddly “unassertive” manner, which is 180 degrees opposite from the way other Swiss watch companies (both large and small) do it?
It starts, of course, with the product.
Ludwig Oechslin’s watches are exactly how we see watchmaking. They are extreme in a way that is not brash or attention seeking. Intelligent reduction, not flashy complication. Truth to materials, not secondary surface treatments. No logo on the dial or case – and of course no descriptive text (the only exception is the required brand stamp for precious metals).
It turns out this isn’t how most people see watchmaking – so it would make no sense to force our uncompromsing viewpiont in front of a wider audience using the standard watch industry communication playbook: paid advertisements, event sponsorships, celebrity endorsements, contrived Instagram accounts, etc.
To all of that, we would much prefer the road less traveled.
But won’t this lead to too slow of a growth rate for our company? Would it not at least make sense to do a little bit of “highly-targeted proactive marketing”, in an attempt to expose more people to our niche product?
Now we come to the fundamental reason –
The main target of most Swiss watch companies is to grow in order to satisfy their backers. For small watch companies, these are usually private investors – perhaps it is someone who could have owned a vineyard or a restaurant with their name on it, but instead chose to have their “own” watch company. For larger watch brands, the investor is usually the public markets. The vast majority of luxury watch brands sold around the world are owned by large luxury groups which are traded on worldwide stock exchanges.
Whether the investor is large or small, whether the watch brand is large or small, the mandate is the same – grow!
Why ochs und junior can be different
A controlling stake in ochs und junior is owned by the cofounders, Ludwig Oechslin and Beat Weinmann.
Ludwig, Beat and I have no appetite even to test more aggressive marketing strategies, because for us, the pleasure is in making, selling, communicating and servicing ochs und junior watches in the uncompromsing way we can do it at our current scale: about 150 watches per year, not more than 300.
Our target is enough customers to continue working this way we do now for a long time. We would like to grow in terms of quality, not quantity.
Our radical target of “enough” is the fundamental reason why ochs und junior’s communication strategy is different.
The benefit to those who do discover ochs und junior is the wonderful feeling of having found something – not the usual feeling a watch fan might get from our industry – something has found me.
The upper-right corner of our website
The three links in the upper right corner (“watches”, “thoughts”, and “contact”) represent the essence of ochs und junior.
“Watches” provides clear, factual descriptions of Ludwig Oechslin’s creations.
“Contact” gives the direct personal contact information of cofounder Beat Weinman, who is responsible for production, sales and service.
“Thoughts” takes you behind the scenes. It contains a huge variety of musings, essays, and photos, ranging from custom-made watches, to how ochs und junior thinks about service, to Ludwig Oechslin explaining his approach to design, to a post on why we make our website secure. In short, the “thoughts” section is where you can learn how the people behind ochs und junior think. And there are now posts stretching back 8 years, all the way to 2008.
The “thoughts” section update
And now, the thoughts section update.
You can now browse every post on a single page, and the posts themselves have a new layout. For the page layout, the most important things to us were large images (since 2012, every image is Retina resolution or higher) and to no longer use a “lightbox”. The lighbox we were using had some benefits, but in our opinion, the downsides (breaking pinch/zoom, slower page load times, and an extra “mode” the site can exist in) were not worth it. Simplicity, we have decided, is the better option.
As might make sense for a company with an unconventional communications strategy, before I joined ochs und junior to handle communications, my work had nothing to do with marketing. In fact, I was a user experience researcher for Google in California, so of course, I welcome your feedback about the “thoughts” section change. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.