Building from the brand up: the Warby Parker story.

They’re hip, they’re hot, and they did it all by focusing first and foremost on the most critical building block: their brand. Warby Parker, NYC-based makers of eyewear, started out by slaving over their name, their brand and positioning — spending a year and a half tacking those challenges before coming to market.

As Neil Blumenthal, one of the founders, put it…

“A lot of investors were surprised we had such a coherent brand but it was because we spent so much time on it.”

By “brand,” Blumenthal and his team took the holistic view: name, attitude, product mix, pricing and their uniquely customer-oriented approach are all part of a singular identity that’s immediately cohesive and engaging for their target audience.   The fact they’re also in the business of doing social good with their “buy a pair, give a pair” program also resonates strongly with contemporary consumers.

They’re deliberately, assertively hipster, but they’re providing a pricing and trial model that’s all about customer satisfaction.  Even their present shortcomings — they can’t yet do bifocals, for example (I checked, since I’m shopping for new frames myself) — becomes an opportunity for them to deliver additional options and dialogue to the eyewear shopper that still make them come off as amiable and concerned about user satisfaction.

Warby Parker is an excellent example of a brand that “surrounds” the target audience with more than just a logo, graphic style or look-and-feel: their brand talks and walks its mission in ways that drive a sense of bone-deep authenticity with its audience.

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