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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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Brand Portfolio

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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Brand Portfolio

This Memphis Practice Uses Its Branding to ‘Frame’ Its Carefully Curated Eyewear

Because they believe frames are ‘art worn on the face.’

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Branding Partner
The practice works with local marketing partner Inferno to design and manufacture all branded materials.

BOLD AND REPRESENTATIVE OF the highest standards,” is how Robbie Johnson Weinberg characterizes the branding at Eclectic Eye in Memphis, TN, which she opened with her husband, Michael Weinberg, OD, in 2002. Eclectic Eye’s advertising features the slogan “Put your style on display,” an idea that ties in with their belief that eyewear is art worn on the face. Hence the brush strokes that feature prominently in their branding: “The paint frames the model or product in each image, combining art and eyewear,” Johnson Weinberg says.

“Our brand is inspired by what we do,” she says. The logo incorporates both a visual representation of an eye, as well as the letter “E” to represent the name. The typeface is light, clean and modern to draw attention back to the logo and give the green color full impact. The Weinbergs are great supporters of the arts, and “didn’t want the logo to be too constructed, but rather, expressive.”

The palette was largely inspired by their location in Midtown Memphis, a hub for the city’s art scene. Eclectic Eye works with local marketing partner Inferno to design and manufacture all branded materials. The logo is featured prominently on top of the building’s tower. Deciding this was a great place to add impact, Inferno painted it a bold green and topped it with a sign.

The basic graphic principles are applied to all promotional materials/events, be it a trunk or art show, social media post, digital ad, blog, signage, collaterals or the monthly “Eyelights” newsletter.

The Weinbergs re-evaluate the brand imagery every year. The idea is to establish a core look that leaves room for creativity.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold,” advises Johnson Weinberg. “Finding the right brand image is often about finding ways to visually and conceptually express your unique taste and voice.”

Stroke of genius
In digital ads, brush strokes push the notion of eyewear as art.

 

On Message
The basic graphics are applied to all promotional materials/events, be it a trunk or art show, social media, signage, collaterals or the monthly “Eyelights” newsletter.

 

Outsider Art
Eclectic Eyes’ exteriors reflect the Midtown neighborhood, a hub for Memphis’ art scene.

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Brand Portfolio

This Optometrist Was Super Picky When Designing Her Logo … and Now It’s Paying Off

Her North Dakota practice created a more modern look than clients were used to.

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ONE OF THE FIRST things Dr. Jessica Keller realized as she was planning Elite Eye Care, which opened in Bismarck, ND, in 2017, was how important branding was going to be to promoting her business to patients. “Most major businesses are remembered not only by their name but by a branding picture, and I wanted to incorporate that into my clinic,” she says.

The starting point was the logo — and she was picky. “I went through a few companies until I found an image that was unique for my area… and was versatile.” That versatility has allowed the logo to serve as a springboard for a comprehensive branding effort that looks sharp and chic but still feels warm and fun. Keller can use the visual components of the logo either as a standalone image or a background image to tie in with branding on an array of items including business cards, letterhead, envelopes, signs, cleaning cases/cloths, mirrors, flyers, emails, advertising, website, social media, promotional products and more.

“The creator incorporated eyewear as well as a non-traditional heart in the logo; it’s just something different that again makes it stand out.” It actually comes in two different versions — one with a more square appearance and a second circular image.

“This gives me a little more freedom to add my brand to lots of different items by choosing which option fits and looks the best,” says Keller.

While she designed the store pretty much on her own, when it came to the branding Keller sought help from a clinic consulting firm, as well as a branding company. The two companies not only helped her devise specific visuals but also gave her ideas on how to display and promote the brand.

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Elite Eye Care’s core demographic is families. Keller felt that by creating a more modern look than they were used to, she was able to send the message that Elite can provide “a modern and trendy, as well as caring, eye health and eyewear experience.” She advises ECPs to scope out the other brands in your area and find something that will set you apart. “Once you have settled on a design and general theme, find as many ways to incorporate that into your clinic as possible.”

The clinic’s branding appears on an impressive array of items including business cards, letterhead, envelopes, signs, cleaning cases/cloths, mirrors, flyers, emails, advertising, promotional products and more.

 

Keller tried several brand consultants before settling on one that was right for her.

 

Keller can use the visual components of the logo either as a standalone image or as a background image on any branded item.

 

A clinic consulting firm and a branding company not only helped Keller devise visuals, but also offered assistance in how to display her brand most effectively.

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