Switzerland is beautiful, especially at the end of a sunny summer day!
The late afternoon is a perfect time to relax on the terrace, writing this blog and just enjoying this unforgettable light. The sunshine is still intense through the leaves on the trees but those leaves have already started to change color.
I do not consider myself a writer even though I did enjoy writing decades ago. Then came the years of business writing only – concepts, plans, emails and messages. It is hard to jump out of this routine, out of the pressure of the daily performance and communication of “required” information and just sit, think and write about what moves me.
But today is the perfect day, the perfect moment, the perfect light….. #seetimedifferently.
The Brand Message – #seetimedifferently
A number of the “Zero Series” of SNGLRTY was ready for testing and wearing (there are only 20 pieces of the Zero Series in existence). The patent was pending, the technical specifications established and we had already prepared a lot of conceptual writing, our individual thoughts and how these connected with our brand and its concept. All of it, however, felt too long. It felt too complicated. It was not unique or was simply too technical. It really felt contrived, and there was nothing further from the truth for SNGLRTY. We needed to boil it down to create a concise, authentic message.
But what was the key message? What should we discard? What is unique to SNGLRTY, is authentic and resonates with others?
There were constraints, there always are! The biggest one was budget, we had already spent multiple 6 digits for the engineering, development, sampling, patent, registration the list goes on. Then on the other side simply because Steve and I both like to understand and experience the journey of discovery. We like to dig deep and hence started to work on the brand message, tagline, and content by ourselves. Every professional marketing & consulting company would suggest the contrary and probably for good reasons.
How Two Non-marketing Guys Created Their Brand Message
It should, maybe, be a better title – but that is what happened! I am not trying to promote SNGLRTY watch here but at this stage but I do have to explain briefly what our watch does:
SNGLRTY displays the exact hour and minutes with one single, oversized Breguet style hour hand. This large OHI (One Hand Indication) hand points at the hour indices and unlike any other clock, wrist and pocket watch ever, it indicates the precise minutes in an aperture just below the hour pointer of the same hand. Actually, an extremely simple way to indicate time in an aligned manner, Steve called it “digital time reading, but analogue”, and it offers intuitive time reading at a glance at the hour hand and to-the-precise-minute understanding when reading the minute in the hand aperture.
To achieve this unique, simple way of presenting time, we print the minutes on a disc that rotates counterclockwise at a pace that the precise minute can be read in the aperture and at any position of the clockwise moving hour hand.
How to approach message discovery?
We had to forget about all the technical considerations, the quality of the product, the price performance as all of this is not an unique message. All of this should be a given, in our view this is only used when there is a lack of authenticity or a fundamental lack of a core message.
There was no history we could rely on, but that was part of our authenticity as we started out wanting to do something new. If it had history it would not be new. We just created the brand, no existing DNA, no commemoration is available. We did not want to create a reference or affiliation with a specific sport, event, achievement or even a future position that the brand should associate with.
So we focused on what our watch does, beautifully. Time is presented in an aligned manner, in a singular way and at a single location on the watch face – but that location moves. It is unique and simple, the single hour hand moving forward and minutes backwards brings precision but displays it with only one hand. We elaborated on a number of ideas: “Precise time at a glance”, “Your time is approaching you” (because of the backwards moving minutes) and “Aligning Moments” not to mention “Time converging at a single point.”
How to kick off some new directions?
Steve and I were spinning our wheels a bit by this stage, the same ideas were going around and around so we decided to ask a friend, a copywriter for their ideas. “Each moment is unique – frame them” was an early leader. He was referring to the design of our hour hand with its big aperture that encircles the minutes, the moment, and how we should experience our lives in each moment. We really enjoyed a number of other ideas he threw in the mix too, some of the most memorable were, “Don’t waste time, frame it” or “Your time is coming, frame it”.
I particularly enjoyed the imagery we could create if we considered our position of “Now” being on the hour hand and the relative motion of the counterclockwise rotating minute disc coming toward you. This is completely different to the conventional minute hand where time is always running away from you, or you are chasing after the minutes. The idea of “Me” (the hour hand) moving forward and the minutes, “the future, the moment”, is approaching . Our copywriter wrote: “One hand moving onwards, the minutes always approaching from the other way” was a bit too much of a mouthful but, “Converging on the moment… and that moment is now,” really had our imagination for a while.
The last phrase has been adapted and is used regularly as, “Time converging at a single point, now,” and we use this to describe the time display. “The minutes are displayed on a counter clockwise rotating disc and the hour hand rotates in the classic fashion. This results in time converging at a single point – where the hand is located. That single point is the moment, the now, the instant.” is perhaps one of my favorites.
How I had to add philosophical aspects
My philosophical tendencies started to impact the process now! And this was not a short process, this was unfolding over at least a year. Steve and I brainstormed every time we had to write a press release, a PR piece, a bit more of the website. Unique, singular, different! SNGLRTY is different, our backers, customers are different! We love uniqueness. We respect uniqueness, we respect “being different”. We want to celebrate our differences.
This chain of thoughts seemed interesting but we still had not hit the “actuality”. These broad concepts provided endless content for social media but it still did not feel we had “hit the nail on the head.” There were a hell of a lot of concepts and ideas wrapped up in our SNGLRTY watch. Like all items of simplicity, it does not mean that it is easy! A great deal would have to be explained and supported with activities, PR and detailed explanations – do we have the budget? Or it simply felt too early.
We continued the process, there were brainstorming sessions, brainwriting sessions, drinking sessions and as all these came together another path opened up. We had been writing about the process we experienced through the process of receiving our patent and a few more arrived, “Life has its ups and downs” or “the future is approaching”, “past and future”. All these ideas were based on our way to present time and our experience in creating it. A reduction of all of these came to “Life has its ups and downs but it’s the moment that…..”
We took the idea of time moving forwards and backwards then converging at a single point as a little metaphor of life, never going in only one direction but always happening now, in this instant and deserving our attention.
We liked that and continue to use this in our broader message, the explanation is there but for communication it is simply too long and the message comes across as too serious.
How simplicity says it all!
Back to the watch. Back to the visible facts, the obvious that does not need any explanation. SNGLRTY displays time differently, the watch shows time differently and hence the wearer looks at time differently! We look at the time differently led to #seetimedifferently. And if you ask when that emerged, which conversation did it emerge from, I have no idea and I would be really surprised if Steve could answer that. It just seemed to arrive one day.
SNGLRTY becomes a reminder to look at time differently. A constant reminder. A reminder to look at things differently, from different angles. A reminder to live the moment and be present, to give importance to the moment. There is always a different view.
Finally we have resolved our brand message. We had to forget about intentions, about what we wanted to become, about all the brand messages, approaches, concepts that we knew from other brands. Forget about the many facts that we thought were important to SNGLRTY. Forget about all the complexity, the past, the way we did things and just look at what SNGLRTY does – presenting the moment – and how? – differently.
We had to open ourselves and understand what we were looking at. #seetimedifferently.
Want to Learn more?
Daniel & Steve are doing regular webinars on How To Buy Watches and answering questions on all aspects of watches and SNGLRTY. Join them by following this link.