Monday, December 23, 2013

Harry Winston: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

In “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” Marilyn Monroe chants, “Talk to me, Harry Winston!” Few names in jewelry are so famous. Raised in the business by his father, Winston (1896-1978) opened his own store in 1932. He made his name by crafting magnificent gems into incredibly beautiful jewelry. Today Harry Winston, Inc., has retail locations in more than 20 cities worldwide, and since early 2013 has been owned by Swatch—the Swiss timepiece conglomerate whose brands include Omega, Tissot, Tiffany & Co. watches, and several more. The main About Us page (“Our Story”) is here.

The overall look of the About Us pages is excellent: each has brief but informative text and large, excellent photos, usually arranged into eye-catching collages.

Products/Services: A
If the About Us pages focused on technical details of Harry Winston pieces (color, clarity, carat ...), they’d soon lose our attention. Instead, the pages show stunning jewelry, beautifully photographed, often worn by gorgeous A-list celebrities. The News page section on the 2013 Academy Awards shows no less than 6 nominees wearing pieces by Harry Winston – with captions giving the style names of the pieces, and occasionally an estimate of their value. Rare Jewels of the World mentions the Taylor-Burton diamond and the 601-carat Lesotho diamond. The legendary Hope Diamond, donated by Winston to the Smithsonian in 1958, gets a page of its own.

In fact, the Harry Winston About Us pages offer more about famous gems than about the company’s history. That’s a great way to emphasize Harry Winston’s uniqueness. Only a couple of the store’s neighbors on Fifth Avenue handle gems with histories that run to decades or centuries.

Our Commandment 2 of About Us pages is “Thou shalt not generalize”: specifics are better than high-falutin’ mission statements. Winston Style is a great example of a mission statement that doesn’t sound like one. The text (again with excellent photos) explains why Harry Winston jewelry is unique: the choice of stones, the nearly invisible platinum settings that make the gems seem to float, the calculation of angles of reflections, the proportions. After reading this one-page description, we have the heady feeling that we can recognize Harry Winston-style jewelry – that we know why his pieces are exceptional. Given how technically complex jewels and jewelry-making are, and how subjective much description of style is, this is a remarkable achievement for a short web page geared to non-specialists.

Personality: A
Harry Winston died in 1978, but his vision is still what drives the brand. Rather than giving a detailed biography of Winston and his career, the company site stresses the founder’s expertise and dedication. It also makes Winston himself an intriguing visual enigma. The main About Us page includes 2 photos of him with his features hidden, and notes that “For security, Harry Winston never allowed his face to be photographed.” What a clever way to imply the treasure troves that this man routinely handled! That’s excellent corporate storytelling in a nutshell—or, more aptly, in a diamond.

Accessibility: C
The Contact Us page is unimaginative but adequate: contact a salon, locate an affiliate, send an email or letter.

Boost the impact of your corporate history by tying it to the broad picture: world history, American history, Hollywood history.

Does your Web site’s “About Us” section accurately convey your organization’s history and capabilities? Every two weeks we evaluate one example, grading it in three areas that are key to potential customers: Personality (Who are you?), Products/Services (What can you do for us?), and Accessibility (How can we reach you?). To talk about your About Us page, contact us!

Today’s example was chosen at random; has no ties to this company.