Laura Colton / Social Media & Content Marketing
There’s something to be said about that victorious feeling of picking out the perfect pair of glasses after searching for hours on end. Finding that glorious balance between affordable and stylish – without breaking the bank.
Many people are in agreement that the two shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. Which is why a company like Warby Parker has managed to swoop in out of seemingly nowhere, and quickly become the go-to place to buy eyewear over the last few years.
A modern spin on the classic David and Goliath tale, Warby Parker has become a beacon of light among the large corporations that make up the LensCrafters and Luxotticas of the world. Warby is that classic underdog that everyone roots for because it has not only disrupted an industry, but it has also flipped the traditional business model on its head.
So how has a relatively unheard of online startup company managed to sell more than a million frames, you might ask? The formula is simple.
Create a brand that people can actually get excited about. While vision, positioning, differentiation, and value are the fundamental blueprints needed to start a company or brand, it is building a strong brand identity that is truly crucial in the competitive marketplace.
Using these simple guidelines here is a list of how to build the power of your brand and create a loyal customer following.
1. Find Inspiration From Problems
“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.” – John Sculley
For those unfamiliar with the company, Warby Parker started back in 2010 with a simple premise: Cut out the middleman and sell cheap designer glasses directly to the consumer.
This business model was inspired by future Warby Parker co-founder Dave Gilboa, who lost his glasses one fateful day and was subsequently blown away by the price it would take to replace them. Like any savvy entrepreneur, Giboa connected the dots and came to the realization that other people must be experiencing similar frustrations.
The serendipitous events that led to the creation of Warby Parker are simple, yet undeniably brilliant.
The bottom line is, real innovation starts by identifying problems. Once you have pinpointed a problem that may be invisible to most people, there is a greater chance of creating something that has real value. These are the products or services that we come across that make us wonder why no one else has thought of it earlier.
2. Have A Greater Social Purpose Beyond Revenue
“The companies that survive longest are the one’s that work out what they uniquely can give to the world – not just growth or money but their excellence, their respect for others, or their ability to make people happy. Some call those things a soul.” – Charles Handy
Customer loyalty isn’t built over night. It takes time for customers to learn to trust a brand and eventually grow to choose that brand over all others. The catalyst for customer loyalty usually stems from a set of values, a message, and a clear differentiation that sets a brand apart from the rest.
More than ever, consumers care about buying from socially conscious brands that take a stand in changing the world. A company’s position that aligns with a social mission appeals largely to activists, especially millinials, looking to buy from companies with a conscious.
Warby Parker’s “buy one, give one” model falls into this spectrum and has become a major selling point and core part of the business. The nonprofit organization Vision Spring and Warby work closely to provide more affordable glasses, as well as training for locals looking to learn how to conduct basic eye exams.
More than ever, consumers are gravitating toward companies that are looking to make the world a better place. They enjoy being part of something that gives back – even if it’s from a distance.
Warby’s social mission feeds into today’s growing socially conscious lifestyle and forces other companies to reject the current status quo and join like-minded companies looking to make a difference.
3. Be Original And Relevant – Don’t Be Another Clone
Warby Parker has set itself apart from other companies largely due to its signature style and design. The Warby team knew from the get-go that the company needed a name to fit the persona of a high-class fashion and lifestyle brand. So following in the footsteps of other online eyewear companies was simply out of the question. Instead of replicating a generic name that had been done so many times before, the founders turned to one of their literary idols for inspiration.
The company’s name stems from two of Jack Kerouac’s early characters, Warby Pepper and Zagg Parker.
The infusion of the two names creates an interesting and original concoction that is unlike any of the generic names already out there. And this plays into the persona that the company is trying to portray: that they are different, unique, ‘rebellious’, and an alternative to the norm.
4. Build On Your Brand’s Personality
As you now know, Warby Parker’s name erupted into existence thanks to a certain literary legend. A telltale sign that the company must appreciate books and have a strong proclivity to reading. Warby does an incredible job of channeling people’s inner bookworm by creating an atmosphere that is both intellectual and idiosyncratic. It has embraced its vintage look and feel with open arms. So when flagship stores began to pop up in major cities (such as Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco to name a few) that resembled the feel of an old library, it seemed like a natural extension of the persona they had already created. And it works for them.
They have managed to cultivate their brand by emphasizing their literary archetype and quirky image. Their stores are filled wall-to-wall with old, leather-bound books, library style ladders, and vintage eye exam equipment – All of which adds to the memorable one-of-a-kind experience that customers crave. Their tailor-made content also shows that they understand their target audience.
Their website’s tone is very tongue-in-cheek with its quirkiness and humor. It feels real. And it is this authenticity that leaves a lasting impression that resonates with customers.
5. Create Fun & Shareable Experiences
As mentioned earlier, the shopping process for eyewear can be a long and tedious process. Because let’s face it – glasses say a lot about our personality, and we want that message to translate to those around us.
Today people are busier than ever, and time is a luxury that many people don’t have.
Through Warby’s ‘Home Try-On’ feature, the glasses hunt is made easier than ever.
Through the help of online technology and social media, people can upload their picture and choose their desired frames. What makes this process unique is that people can virtually try on different styles, and then share with others via different social media platforms. Not only is this convenient, but it wildly appeals to millinials who highly value the feedback and opinions of their peers.
The company also emphasizes its “try-on at home” feature, which allows customers to choose up to five pairs of glasses to have shipped to their home (for free) to try on for up to five days.
Both of these options have given Warby’s a significant leg up in the glasses world, and have even contributed to a much harder feat – making it easy and fun for people to buy things.