Someone related a story to me once about a watchmaker and his apprentice. While putting together a watch, the watchmaker was intricately finishing a part that went inside the movement - he made sure everything was perfect, signed his initials, only to put it in the movement and cover it up with another part, completely hiding it from view.
"Why did you go through so much trouble putting that part together, when you were just going to cover it up anyway and nobody will see it?" asked the apprentice.
"It doesn't matter if anyone else will ever see it - God will see it." replied the watchmaker.
The point isn't so much a religious anecdote; it's that doing things right means doing them right even when no one is looking. I've written about design, quality, and what goes into products before, and this post continues an exploration on related thoughts.
Over the last several years I have expended a substantial amount of effort to create new products that are better than anything I have ever released before. I have pushed to make inroads into creating a product of higher quality, of better design, and better general impression. I work to push the limits forward in some way every time against prior releases - to create something that is worthy of being made in the first place, and worthy of your attention.
I think that by any measure, these efforts have borne fruit which has resulted in some of the most popular and well received products I have ever released.
With that said, I’d like to discuss “branding” – something that has a variety of connotations, both positive and negative, depending on a person’s point of view (and their opinions or assumptions about any given “brand”).
At the end up the day, branding is just the story you tell your customers about your company and your products – mine is pretty simple: Quality. It’s what I have chosen to focus on in every aspect of the business. And by quality, I mean it pervasively, in everything that’s done – the products themselves, and everything that touches them.
I want every interaction that someone has with my products – from the moment they visit the website all the way to when they open the box and experience the item for the first time, to be exceptional, and as well done as I can make it be.
I built this website myself. I wrote every word on nearly every page here. I’ve written every post on this blog (at the time of this writing, in any case). Each certificate that comes with my torches was written by me, signed by hand individually, with paper stock selected specifically for quality and feel in person, and inks and pens tested to find the one that wrote best on the best paper. Each paper is embossed instead of merely digitally printed, because it’s better.
I designed the packaging experience on each torch to be worthy of the item it contains inside, because if I make something good, and can’t be bothered to care enough about how it’s presented to you, why should you care about the product? You shouldn’t. It’s disrespectful to my own work, and disrespectful to the customer. The notion that this is somehow even remotely acceptable, because “all the money went into the product itself”, is wholly false. It’s a poor excuse for someone simply leaving the job unfinished.
I work with an artist to create beautiful artwork from ideas and sketches that I make, because I like art, and it matters. I am a huge fan of art deco, and love the bold lines, colors, and manner of expression that it allows for some of the ideas that go into these torches. You see it on my boxes, on posters, on product descriptions, because it gives me an opportunity to express ideas in visual metaphor instead of just text alone.
This, of course, is all merely supplementary and tangent to the most important part of it all: the product itself. I’ve written about details when it comes to that here.
My point is that a story is not just a story. A product is not just a product. A single resistor or capacitor does not make a light engine, nor does a light engine by itself make an Electric Torch. The entirety of execution is a sea of little details that each require attention to get right, and the more that are attended to and polished correctly elevates things to a level otherwise unattainable. It isn’t easy, it takes a certain level of dedication; the inconsequential is always consequential; everything matters.
This is all part of the story, this is all part of the product. It’s part of the engineering, it’s part of the industrial design. It’s part of every word written on every page, and it’s part of the art, photos, and everything else. This is the Muyshondt “brand”. There are no contrivances, pretenses, or substitutes - simply one thing: