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A Minnesota Optometry Business Shows ECPs How to Build a Cool Brand with a Warm Touch

The goal was to create a ‘low stress, fun experience.’

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IN 2017 DR. KELSEY KELTGEN and her husband Mitch Peterson opened SEEK Eye Care, an independent optometry practice in Victoria, MN, a small town west of the Twin Cities. From the start, these high school sweethearts had twin goals: a comprehensive, high-tech optometric practice accompanied by a unique but approachable optical. The goal, Peterson says, was to create a “low stress, fun experience.” Paradoxically, the effort to create a distinctive brand leaves many retail businesses feeling cookie-cutter cool, or just too slick. SEEK avoids falling into this trap, projecting a vibe that’s sharp, but human and, yes, approachable.

SEEK’s decor is rich in wood accents with a twist of industrial chic. Keltgen and Peterson, who funded the new business on their own, designed and hand-built the store’s frame boards and eyewear displays. “We had some help from a few family friends but other than that we did all of our own design work and concepts between my wife, our manager Rachel and myself,” Peterson says.

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The branding effort started with SEEK’s logo, which incorporates a pair of glasses with frosted lenses framed in the company colors: purple and teal (Keltgen’s favorites). “I wanted something catchy, clean looking and easy to remember,” Peterson says.

The look was designed to be memorable but not elitist. “Too many times opticals get stuck in the cutting-edge fashion world. I think those stores have a place; it’s just not what we wanted to do. We are a bit more down-to-earth than our immediate competitors and that’s why our patients become SEEK fans,” he adds.  

SEEK’s twin colors are a familiar sight at the local car show every other Wednesday right outside the location’s door. Peterson made up a couple thousand koozies to hand out with SEEK’s name plastered on them. “Guess what … they were purple and teal. It was an instant hit. This year we have glow in the dark bracelets to hand out. Our SEEK fans are asking for giveaways to show off to everyone.”  

In the reception area and on signage the business’ strong, short, visually themed name is rendered in all caps; it also forms the basis for the logo, always rendered in a font chosen for clarity. The logo festoons a range of material from lens cloths to lens wipes and solution.

Aside from keeping it clear and consistent, from the colors to the logo, Peterson’s advice is to always keep in mind the whole picture that you’re trying to present: “Too many ECPs just focus on their name, and not their full image.”

A Capital Idea

In the reception area and on signage SEEK’s strong, short, visually themed name is rendered in capital letters.

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Brewing Up a Brand

For the local car show, Peterson made up a couple thousand koozies to hand out with SEEK’s name plastered on them. 


Seamless

SEEK’s logo adorns everything from contact solution to lens cloths and wipes.

After years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at heath@smartworkmedia.com.

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A Tiny Maine Optical That Knows How to Make a Big Impact

With the help of local artists, they injected a little rebelliousness into their branding look.

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MINIMALIST AND MODERN with an attitude,” is how owner Chris Wheaton describes the branding at North Optical in Portland, ME. Doing a lot with a little is a concept that befits an optical tucked into 320 square feet within the “Black Box,” a retail space created out of shipping containers in the city’s East End.

Wheaton is a student of the history of logo design and typography, and cites them as key influences, along with architecture, furniture and interior design. “While a lot of my inspiration comes from famous schools of design like Bauhaus, I also love old-school hardcore band logos and posters. So I try to instill a little bit of rebelliousness into the branding as well.”

Branded materials include business cards, totes, stickers, postcards, posters, coasters, coozies, custom candles and cleaning spray. “I am always looking for new and fun things to put my logo on or a new design from a local artist.”

Wheaton keeps things simple “so that I can mess with it and do really fun things on a whim… like a sticker of cyclops driving a monster truck carrying a flag with my logo on it. Because why not? But it also allows me to be more serious too.”

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North Optical’s branding was also intended to be a platform for local artists and designers. The basic design work is handled by Portland’s Andrew Scripter/Wing Club Press, which also prints most of the materials.

“I work with only local artists, photographers and whenever possible use local printing services,” says Wheaton.

If you’re looking for a branding boost, Wheaton says a good way to begin is to seek out a local business with a strong brand image and a similar clientele, and partner with them. “Something as simple as a photo shoot can be invaluable for upping your brand image,” he says.

Second, Wheaton advises approaching a local designer or artist whose work you love; sometimes artists will be willing to accept payment in trade.

“Also, people love swag. Reusable screen-printed totes are great guerrilla marketing. I think that it’s all about the little things — a customer’s experience can easily be brought to the next level with something as simple as a postcard.”

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Could Your Branding Use Some Brightening Up? This Bay Area Practice Can Shed Some Light

A love of fashion and a great social media touch keep things radiant at Luminance Vision Optometry.

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MEI FLEMING, OD, OWNER of Luminance Vision Optometry in Lafayette, CA, points to her love of fashion and her background in fashion blogging as key influences in the practice’s modern, elegant and sophisticated branding. The store’s logo, interior design and products all communicate quality, fashion and style — an approach that finds verbal expression in Luminance Vision’s slogan, stenciled across the optical wall: “See better than 20/20 in style.”

The professionally designed logo comprises multiple frames layered upon each other in various colors, signifying the diverse hues and shapes of Luminance’s frames. Underneath the logo, the practice name is rendered in an uncluttered font that is cohesive with the Bay Area optical’s clean, simple and bright interior.

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The logo and signature font grace all marketing materials, signage, patient forms and email communications. Other branded elements include lens cloths, cleaning bottles, shopping bags, credit card terminal, website and social media. “Any patient encounter is an opportunity for a visual communication of our service and product through our logo,” says Fleming.

The cloths are printed by Clearlens. “All other printed materials, our website and our social media posts are designed and updated by me, constantly,” she says. “It’s a lot of work and will likely need to be outsourced soon. Either way, continuity and keeping all our marketing efforts personable and cohesive is the most important part of our branding.”

On Instagram and Facebook, every image is edited to highlight the eyewear. All posts bear their signature hashtag: #stylishglasses. “We also maintain continuity in image quality. Adopting a signature filter on all images is another way of branding posts,” she says.

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Fleming advises ECPs looking to elevate their branding to start by identifying their target market. In Luminance’s case, that’s professionals in their 40s. She also stresses the importance of familiarizing yourself with the shopping habits of your target market. From here, she says, “the remainder of our demographic… will follow the core target market into the practice.”

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Looking to Appeal to a More Creative Clientele? Here’s How It’s Done

This Chicago optical’s in-house branding effort is confident and consistent.

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THE BASIC AIM of owner Alissa Fields’ branding effort at Eye Spy Optical in Chicago, IL, she says, is to convey a fun and colorful look that reflects her eyewear collections and the feeling in her shop. The prominence of her feline-in-eyewear logo, which has a vaguely retro animation vibe, and confident combination of a custom font (hand-drawn by a local designer) with liberal use of a cool magenta-and-teal color combo give her branding a fully achieved feel.

Eye Spy Optical’s core demographic is mid-30s to mid-50s, but rather than targeting an age group, she says, “I target my creative customers. We have many customers that like to be different, stand out from the crowd, and have their own style. When I produce my lookbooks, I try to convey this feeling.” Fields selects all promotional items, finds the suppliers and designs the graphics herself using Adobe Illustrator.

The font and colors in Eye Spy’s logo recur in ads and peripheral material and throughout the store. “I put my logo on everything, but I try to not make it too obnoxious,” she says.

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Branded items include stickers pasted inside eyeglass cases, custom cleaning cloths and spray bottles, thank-you cards, buttons, temporary tattoos, felt wine bags, reusable cotton bags, pocket mirrors, lip balm, matchbooks and more. Some are produced specifically for a store event or customer mailing, others to be given away daily. “I like to have themes for our events, and that also helps me decide what to produce,” Fields says. She’s even got decals on her vehicle and her vintage airstream trailer.

A committed environmentalist, when producing marketing materials and giveaways Fields puts a lot of thought — “probably too much” — into how much the giveaway will actually be used, where and how it is produced and how long it will last.

She advises ECPs to choose a logo that works well in different colors, applications and sizes, and to keep your look consistent; in her 20 years in business she’s updated the logo only once. When coming up with promotional items, she says, select items you’ll use regularly and would like to have for yourself. “Do not create junk to give away, if you are selling a luxury product,” she says, “and have fun!”

Front and Center: ‘I put my logo on everything’ says Eye Spy Optical owner Alissa Fields, ‘but I try not to make it too obnoxious.’

Versatility is Key
Fields advises ECPs to choose a logo that works well in different sizes, colors and applications.

DIY: Fields designs the graphics used in her branding herself using Adobe Illustrator.

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Going Mobile: Eye Spy Optical decals even grace Fields’ vintage Airstream trailer.

In the Bag: A magenta felt wine bag with the Eye Spy Optical logo.

Creative Collaboration: Fields will occasionally enlist outside help. The font used on this bag was created by a local designer.

Buttons & Boxes: Branded items include stickers, cleaning cloths and spray bottles, thank-you cards, buttons, temporary tattoos, felt wine bags, reusable cotton bags, pocket mirrors, lip balm, matchbooks and more.

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