Disheveled Watches

Products are made in a factory but brands are created in the mind.
-Walter Landor, legendary brand strategist

A good friend and I were strolling through New York earlier last week when we came across a watch shop recommended by a mutual friend. We were assured we’d find something we liked at a reasonable price, not getting taxed too heavily.

We pulled up. Nothing at first glance from across the street was alarming. As we crossed the road, however, a few things became apparent.

The display case outside was filled with an insane selection of pieces but was organized in complete disarray. Trays upon trays of expensive watches were stacked on top of each other in the most haphazard way you could imagine. APs and Rolexes, Cartiers and Guccis, all masterfully crafted luxury watches treated like they were sub $100 items in the layaway section of Macy’s.

First impressions are lasting impressions, and things only went downhill from here. The rest of the interaction was less than optimal.

Nevertheless, I saw many parallels between our experience in this watch shop and things I see regarding e-commerce and branding in general.

For starters, the price of the AP we were looking at was quoted at 37k. After the associate let us know the cost, he was adamant in telling us that these particular models are selling for double on the market today. Why would he be selling a watch he could get double for instantaneously?

I’m not going to throw out reasons why he was willing to sell to us for so much lower than fair value, but this brought into focus why running constant discounts, especially as an e-commerce store owner, can be a big no-no.

Not only do regular discounts discredit the overall value of what you’re selling, lowering its worth in the eyes of the buyer, but they also raise questions about the legitimacy/integrity of your offer. I get that a luxury watch is different from a portable espresso maker someone found on Tik Tok, but the dynamic is the same in both instances.

Discounting your products hurts your perceived brand image in customers’ eyes and trains them to expect a discount. As a result, stores that constantly run a sale find that individuals are only willing to purchase when the price is slashed, rarely getting buyers when the item is listed at its total cost.

This leads me to the next red flag and works in tandem with signaling to potential buyers the value and worth of your product/service offer.

I mentioned earlier that the display case outside was organized in complete disarray, with expensive watches stacked one on top of the other.

I thought, “Are these watches legitimate if he’s treating them with such a lack of care? And if he’s not willing to treat/present them in a way that’s aligned with their full value, are they even worth that much?”

Replace the word “display case” with the word “website.” Do you treat your website with a lack of care? Is it designed to signal to your customers certain subtleties that they associate with higher-end brands? Or do you have a basic Shopify theme, a basic Webflow theme, unoptimized to be the best it can be, with basic graphics and basic copy?

Had the store owner presented his watches in neatly organized display cases, with proper lighting and decor inside of his shop, the watches would have been perceived as much higher in value. The lack of care, and the subsequent signaling created by the poor treatment of his product, turned us off and sent us on our way.

Visitors to your website form an opinion about your products and brand within 0.1 seconds of loading. Ask yourself: does my store/site look cheap? Does it look like it was made in 2008? Does it look like many other stores/sites on the market today?

If so, you need to make some changes. I’ll be dropping gems moving forward for quick fixes that help with raising perceived value in the area of web design (+ branding & graphics) specifically, but I’m sure there are a few common-sense changes you could make today that would help right off the bat.

Low hanging fruit: is your logo pixelated? Are the images on your site pixelated? Are there misaligned sections of your website that cut off text, bleed off the screen, or are unreadable? Is the contrast between your background and text colors making portions of your site text hard to read? Do your colors complement one another?

That’s it for now, but we’ll work together to clean up the edges of your customer touch-points (website and identity mainly) to get rid of bad design. We hate bad design, and life is too short to put bad designs into the world.

Welcome aboard; we at Fra Mauro look forward to fighting the good fight against generic, outdated, and ugly design. You, and your customers, deserve better.

Products are made in a factory but brands are created in the mind.
-Walter Landor, legendary brand strategist

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