Best of Eyecare3 Simple Elements (and a Dash of Science) Define This Minnesota Optical’s Striking Branding Effort A little goes a long way for this beautifully branded Minnesota optical. Published 11 months agoon February 22, 2018By Heath Burslem Invision March 2018 Issue Share Tweet BRANDING LEGEND AND FORMER Steve Jobs collaborator Ken Segall (he put the “i” in iMac) based an entire book on his 40 “heroes of simplicity.” Well, we’ve discovered our own hero of simplicity, Dr. Sarah K. Ebeling, founder of Wink Family Eye Care in Chanhassen, MN, who has built a successful optometry practice with a distinctive look that many independent ECPs would struggle to match, and which was recently applied to a second location in St. Louis Park, another suburb of Minneapolis.“We stick to the motto ‘less is more,’” says Ebeling. “We really have only three key brand elements — our Wink green, the logo, and the dots from our wall — but we consistently use them everywhere to create brand recognition.” Ebeling describes the overall look as “fresh, modern and clean.” She purposely chose green based on something she learned in color perception class in optometry school. “The wavelength of 555nm is the easiest color for the human eye to see. I remember thinking if I ever had my own practice, I’d use that same green. We have. Everywhere.” The color crops up on Wink’s exam chair, paper towel holders, pens, custom wall art and beyond. The Wink logo is placed tastefully on anything given to patients, including lens cloths and spray bottles, bags and pens. It’s all green (of course) with the logo and social media info printed on them — nothing more. Advertisement The same consideration that went into the choice of color goes into the composition of social media imagery. “We try to take most images that are put on social media platforms in front of the green-dot Wink wall, all with a similar filter and light to create the same bright, clean vibe that they can expect when people come into our office. According to Ebeling, Wink’s largest demographic is young families, so the space was intentionally designed to appeal to young children without turning off adults. “Everything we do can transition from pediatric to adult seamlessly, and it carries over to our marketing. Everything is bright, cheerful and fresh but still modern enough with simple elegance to appeal to our adult patients.” She is quick to credit Edana Hoehn at Mustard Stripe in Minneapolis for “translating the concepts in my brain into reality. She’s a genius. Our space was designed by Bob Shaffer of The Foundation Architects in Minneapolis. Also, genius. He came up with the pop-artish wall art of green dots that spells ‘Wink’, which we use as a backdrop for images on social media, on our website, and even in a few of our printable graphics.” To optical retailers looking to elevate their brand image, Ebeling’s advice is… well, it goes without saying: “Commit and keep it simple. Build a great marketing team who really understands your vision and can make it reality.” Green is GoodWink’s color scheme is based on lessons Sarah Ebeling learned about color perception in optometry school. Advertisement Logo MotiveThe Wink logo is placed on everything handed to patients, from pens to lens cloths.A Little DottyThe green-dot Wink wall is used as a backdrop for images posted to social media. Related Topics:Brand FolioBrand Portfolioeyecare businesses in MinnesotaINVISION March '18 Up NextPositive Reception Don't MissOh, The Horror! Heath BurslemAfter 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Advertisement SPONSORED VIDEO SPONSORED BY WALMAN OPTICALProfitability with Managed Care: It’s RealIn the first of this three-part series, Dr. Eric White, Complete Family Vision Care, talks about managed care, and how to put your practice on the path to profitability. Promoted Headlines Profitability with Managed Care: It’s RealWalman Optical Overheard at The E+A Lounge at VEWEssilor Nominate a Difference MakerEssilor You may like A Minnesota Optometry Business Shows ECPs How to Build a Cool Brand with a Warm Touch Five Opticians Finding Interesting New Uses for Optical Gadgets … and Optical Hacks for All Kinds of Interesting Stuff Minnesota Optician Creates a Destination Boutique Unlike Any Other Want more INVISION? Subscribe to our newsletter. CommentBrand PortfolioLiving in the Future Thanks to the Indie Branding Effort at Lab Rabbit Optics in Chicago At a one-man Chicago optical, Coyote DeGroot has crafted a brand that’s clear, austere and just a little luxurious: Lab Rabbit Optics. Published 3 days agoon January 15, 2019By Heath Burslem COYOTE DEGROOT, OWNER OF Lab Rabbit Optics, is enthusiastic when asked to discuss the home-grown branding effort at his Chicago optical. So his initial description of it — “simple, maybe even boring” — is a little unexpected. His clarification is just as enigmatic: “I want you to feel like you’re living 8-10 months in the future: ahead of the curve, but not about to alienate your friends at the corner pub. I constantly strive for increased understanding and visual clarity.”Lab Rabbit Optics owner Coyote DeGroot wants you to feel ‘like you’re living 8-10 months in the future: ahead of the curve, but not about to alienate your friends at the corner pub.’The name of the business (an allusion to its owner: “almost half my life has been spent in a lab,” he says, “cutting lenses and jamming tunes on the stereo”) and its visual analog — the brand’s central motif is a rabbit in silhouette superimposed with two pairs of frames — are both simple and loaded with the many associations that animal carries, from vitality and creativity to a certain madcap quality. It’s a great lesson in the totemic power of a well-chosen logo.DeGroot is not particularly interested in catering to some particular “set” or demographic. His “fairly austere” look appeals to his customers, he says, because they “abhor flashy, eccentric looks in lieu of more versatile, understated designs with clever details.” Advertisement Lab Rabbit’s look is defined as much by what it eschews as what it contains: DeGroot doesn’t believe in point-of-purchase materials, brochures or catalogs. Photos of models are “disingenuous,” he says. “I prefer photos that focus strictly on the eyewear or activities within the shop. I personally photograph my frames, design my signage, and create all web and social media content. People who know me also follow my private social media accounts, where they can enjoy a more ‘raw’ view into my weird world.” Non-eyewear-related influences include “techno music, magazines of all sorts, overpriced restaurants.”The branded material itself includes lens-cleaning solution, business cards, matchboxes, buttons and tote bags, most of them rendered in two-tone color schemes with a common font that extends to the neon sign in the optical’s display window.DeGroot is a walking embodiment of indie optical retail — no staff, no outside investors, and entirely self-funded. He’s the only person the customer deals with from start to finish (this includes cutting all lenses). In keeping with this, he does the general layout and design of his branding himself, “but I leave the manufacturing of all products to the professionals.”To his fellow ECPs pondering a branding boost, DeGroot offers some typically cryptic advice, seemingly part admonishment to keep things simple, part encouragement to stir things up: “Just remember that whatever you’re doing is a lot less sexy than you think it is.”Branded material includes lens solution, business cards, matchboxes, buttons, tote bags and more.Among the promotional freebies at Lab Rabbit Optics, the matchboxes have been a surprise hit, owner Coyote DeGroot reports: “I don’t quite understand the matchbox thing, but it’s been a huge success… My non-customers — my friends, the mailman, etc. — snatch up those matches like they were stockpiling for the apocalypse. For some older folks, they reminisce about collecting matchbooks from their favorite taverns, back in the day. I always do my best to give my products an understated, luxurious feel…but I suspect that nostalgia is the main driver for the matchboxes’ popularity.” Continue ReadingAmerica's FinestCool Ideas and Clever Lighting Create the Ideal Frame-Selection Setting at This LA-Area Practice. A host of cool touches combine to create the perfect frame-selection setting at this Los Angeles-area practice. Published 4 days agoon January 14, 2019By Heath Burslem Optical Connection, Studio City, CAOWNER: Armen Kanberian; URL: optical-connection.com;FOUNDED: 2002; LAST RENOVATED: 2017; ARCHITECT AND DESIGN FIRM: VVP Designs; EMPLOYEES: 3 full-time; AREA: 1,500 square feet;BUILDOUT COST: $35,000; TOP BRANDS: Jacques Marie Mage, DITA, Sama, Barton Perreira, Thierry Lasry; FACEBOOK:facebook.com/opticalconnection; TWITTER:@opticalconnect; YELP:yelp.com/biz/optical-connection-studio-city;INSTAGRAM:@opticalconnectionWHEN ARMEN KANBERIAN SET up Optical Connection in Studio City, CA, in 2002, his aim was clear: “To give spectacle wearers more choices in a market that’s been tainted by mass-production.”The name of the business’ home city, a well-heeled corner of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, reflects its close relationship with the movie industry, which dates back to the silent era. “I always loved Studio City and I knew it was a hub for the entertainment industry,” said Kanberian. But while Optical Connection has a distinct glamour about it, he doesn’t seem that interested in showily linking his clientele to the industry. To his mind, the main quality his customers share is that they “want something special.” To oblige them, Optical Connection has created what Kanberian calls “a culture of people who love independent brands and appreciate our knowledge and unique eyewear.”After securing a loan from relatives, Kanberian set about planning a “minimalist, modern design.” The interior is simple, smart and elegant with a blue, gray and white color scheme that is applied throughout the store and its branding, starting with the spectacles-like “OC” logo. The subdued hues allow the store’s first-class lighting effort to do the work and let the eyewear take center stage. Most of the store’s wood and paint finishes are gray, while the display shelves, showcases, desktops and furniture are neutral/white, offset by blue accent walls. According to Kanberian, “The lighting…draws the visitors’ eyes immediately into the extraordinary frame collections, making them the focal point of the store.” Advertisement Optical Connection is set apart by a host of cool touches from the seating to the brightly lit frame trays to the selfie wall — all of which serve frame selection. Cleverly, the store’s signature hashtag, #WELLFRAMED, adorns the selfie wall. “Recently we had a client who bought a dress with glasses and came in just to take pictures with the selfie wall,” says Kanberian. It’s just one of multiple showcases designed to allow customers to view and try on eyewear. “We want our clients to feel comfortable and [that they] have our full attention,” Kanberian says.The emphasis is on “independent,” “unique,” and “out of the mainstream” eyewear sourced from around the world (see Top Brands, p. 59) and clients get sneak peeks at trunk shows every couple of months.More than one of our judges were struck by Optical Connection’s skilled use of social media, particularly its well-followed Instagram, which Kanberian describes as “an integral part of connecting with our clients and branding what is trending. We also connect with our clients to promote our trunk shows and events.” He has found it’s a particularly effective way of promoting lesser-known eyewear lines. “In the last few years, with independent brands our clients have appreciated the stories we post.”Kanberian goes to special lengths to praise his team’s contribution to Optical Connection’s success (see Fine Story, at right) starting with Dr. Ruth Lipson, an OD with over 30 years’ experience who has been with the practice since day one. Her optometric services are enhanced by the store’s on-site lab, which Kanberian says improves turnaround time and responsivity to special requirements. The practice is not a provider with any insurance companies, but will help clients submit out-of-network forms.Distilling the lessons he’s learned during more than 16 years of running the business, Kanberian attributes Optical Connection’s success to “being honest and listening to our clientele. Seeing the final product when my clients come to pick up their glasses are all the reasons why I continue to keep the business fresh.” PHOTO GALLERY (15 IMAGES) Five Cool Things About Optical Connection1. PHOTO OP. Optical Connection’s selfie wall is decorated with patterned wallpaper from the U.K. and the business’s signature hashtag, #WELLFRAMED, in neon. Kanberian credits L.A.-based VVP designs for helping him realize his vision for the store.2. REACHING OUT. For the past decade, Optical Connection has been participating in events at more than half a dozen neighborhood schools, and making donations to them. “This gives us an opportunity to get to know the community,” Kanberian says.3. PAWSITIVITY. For the past year, Optical Connection has been selling gift items on behalf of animal-rescue charity Tails of Joy. All proceeds go to the organization.4. CONNECTIVITY. Optical Connection’s well-tended Instagram has more than 5,000 followers. And regularly informs clients about trunk shows and other events, as well as lesser-known independent frame lines. 5. LOOKING GOOD. The practice’s branding scheme, from its spectacles-like “OC” logo to its tote bags to the wall of its optical feature a sharp, common three-toned color scheme that work well with the store’s sophisticated lighting. WHAT THE JUDGES SAIDThe store interior is chic and designed towards a client relationship where the optician is the central conduit in the frame selection discussion. The selfie wall was a great solution to an area in the store that was serving no function. Cultivating relationships with local schools is a great way to bring Optical Connection to the attention of busy parents and demonstrate the practice’s commitment to the community. Brent Zerger, l.a.Eyeworks, Los Angeles, CAThe interior of this place looks great. I really like the use of the lights in both the displays and above them. Great looking seating and other small touches. The Instagram images are fantastic and make me want to stop by this place and shop. Michael Kling, OD, Invision Optometry, San Diego, CA The lightbox portraits in the walls are such a unique feature, as is the neon #WELLFRAMED sign. The light-up frame trays are awesome. Great branding through gift bags. The high-end photo shoots do a lot to elevate the brand. Natalie Taylor, Artisan Eyewear, Meredith, NH FINE STORYOptical Connection owner Armen Kanberian repeatedly singles out his staff for their contribution to his business’s success. “I am so thankful to have an amazing team with knowledge and exceptional customer service. We have the best, most experienced opticians. Among them is Janine Willenberg from Australia. She wins most of our clients from the word ‘Hello’ with her bubbly self. Her experience and expertise are the best, along with her being passionate about helping our clientele see and feel great.” Another key player is Dr. Ruth Lipson, the in-house optometrist. “The newest addition is Dr. Tamar Kaloustian — their long experience brings so much to the business,” Kanberian says. The team meets for quarterly meetings and coaching by vendors in the newest products and technology, and gets to know customers at the practice’s trunk shows multiple times a year. Continue ReadingAmerica's FinestHigh-End Optical Retail Doesn’t Have to Be Cookie-Cutter ‘Minimal’ — Here’s Proof At Great Spectacles in Stockton, CA, Lynda Winter’s eye for quality and cozy brand of elegance make for a perfect fit. Published 2 weeks agoon January 5, 2019By Heath Burslem Great Spectacles, Stockton, CAOWNER: Lynda Winter; URL: bakersfieldeyecare.com; OPENED: 1990 (renovated in 2015); AREA: 982 sq. ft inside, 250 sq. ft. patio; EMPLOYEES: 1 full-time, 2 part-time; TOP BRANDS: Face a Face, Chanel, Dita, Anne et Valentin, Gucci, Chrome Hearts; FACEBOOK: facebook.com/bakersfieldeyecare; INSTAGRAM: @greatspectaclesLOOKING BACK, LYNDA WINTER’S long career in eyewear has a fated quality; she was placed in her first optical job by an employment agency at age 18. “I learned to listen and problem-solve.” A professional lifetime of selecting and dispensing later, fitting and adjusting is still, in her view, the core of what she does. It’s just that now she does it in her own thriving, strikingly original optical, Great Spectacles in Stockton, CA.In 1990, Winter opened Great Spectacles in a 650 square foot location with no visibility, relying on word of mouth — something she does to this day. Another constant has been meticulous inventory building. Winter joined C&E buying group, slowly built up her credit and didn’t shy away from expensive models. “Specific frames were ordered; I had one that was $500.” But she knew what she was doing. “I listened to the desires of each customer; slowly I secured select vendors. It was my desire to only carry quality products. Business was consistent.”In 2002 she moved to an upscale shopping center. November 2015 marked 25 years in business. “It was time for a facelift. We moved out for several months and upgraded everything. Vaulting the ceiling exterior and interior created volume without adding to the 950-square foot footprint. Environmental LED lighting, skylights and a focal point prism fringe chandelier enhanced the space,” which was made warmer and more inviting.In an age when high-end retail seems to default to minimal/industrial, Great Spectacles has authentic charm. Winter adds homelike and vintage touches to an elegance that is more than worthy of the fine eyewear on which she focuses. “Nothing cookie cutter here.”The painted green, ombre-design front door suggests “a linen fabric or a vintage Japanese vase.” It opens onto a mahogany front desk with a built-in display that is changed every few months. Overhead, optical prisms gleam from the chandelier. Winter came up with the store’s structural and cabinet designs herself.The signature patio is accessed through French doors, extending the appearance of space. A striped awning, artificial lawn and water feature create a calm, cozy, spa vibe, with outdoor mirrors allowing an assessment of your new frames in the light of day.As for the eyewear, “At the end of the day, classic shapes and quality remain unbeatable.” Winter and staff hand-pick every frame and only buy one of each. “Every company has classics; a good designer will create a shape that makes you do a double take,” she says. When it comes to merchandising, she’s tried every angle. “Currently we display by brand, mixing men’s and women’s, sun and ophthalmic.”Staff are loyal and valued. “I purchase lunch daily and we eat together. This is a very family-feeling practice. Continuing education is a paid benefit as well as trips to Vision Expo. Each employee has vacation, sick leave, a $300 yearly eyewear allotment and a retirement plan. Holiday bonuses are the norm.” To Tara Heredia, a 19-year veteran, “Coming to work is like coming home… customers are like family. We’re thanked daily for helping them — even as they pay their bill.” Sydney Humphrey, who handles the social media accounts, finds “working with our customers is incredibly rewarding… I feel fortunate to work in a beautiful environment.”Winter’s sales playbook is concise: “Be honest! We are in a service business and are not salespeople. If the frame doesn’t fit or look good, tell them.”She describes Stockton as “diverse with varying lifestyles. Our luxury product is not a fit for everyone, [but] … we have customers of many years that have built wardrobes of eyewear they can’t live without.” Business has been “consistently good.” The store only has one sale a year, beginning mid-January. “We go over styles that aren’t working, companies that do not stand behind their product and frames that are sold for less on the Internet” and discount those.Nearly 50 years after being placed by that recruitment agency, Winter gets referrals from all over Northern California. Some of her clients have been seeking her out since the 1970s. The rewards haven’t diminished. “I loved the business at $1.35 an hour as much as I love it now.”PHOTO GALLERY (6 IMAGES)Five Cool Things About Great Spectacles1. PRIVACY PLEASE. There is a private fitting room with a sliding barn door closure and large two-way mirror so things are private but not claustrophobic. 2. SIGN ON THE LINE. All reps fill out a vendor agreement laying down what is required when returning product, and other lines they represent. “It confirms to a new account that we are serious about our business.” 3. KEEP IT CLEAN. Printed custom 12×12” and 6×6” cleaning cloths are given to each patient when they pick up their new glasses. 4. DOCS IN THE FAM. Lynda Winter’s son and daughter-in-law are ODs in Colorado. She considered asking them to join her practice, but thought better of it. “The three of us needed to make our own way in the industry,” she said. “I love having them available for answers.” 5. MINI MUSEUM. Winter’s extensive vintage collection is displayed at the entrance and rotated every few months. “Hardly a day goes by without a comment on them,” she says. They also feature in “Throwback Thursdays” on the store’s Instagram account.FINE STORY: CHINES ART INFLUENCE Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art of harmonizing one’s environment, influences the layout and in-store features at Great Spectacles, starting with its green front door. “A green front door represents growth because it is the shade of green plants in nature,” explains Winter. It also means prosperity because it is the same color as U.S. currency. Importantly, the entrance is free of obstacles and a small box of coins with a red ribbon is always in the “wealth gua,” the area where the money changes hands. There is also a lucky bamboo and (we’re glad to hear) a closed restroom door. WHAT THE JUDGES SAIDThe interior makes me think I’m going to be comforted in this warm, rich space. I wouldn’t doubt if they have the aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies wafting through the air. Robert Bell, The Eye Coach, San Francisco, CAThe exterior front potted plants extend a warm welcome letting customers know what to find on the inside while the rear outside space is a secret garden. Jack Verdon, Verdon Architects, San Francisco, CA “I love the patio and the testimonials.” Jim Sepanek, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, DeRigo REM, Sun Valley, CA Continue ReadingAdvertisementLatestTrendingVideos Sponsored Content7 hours agoProfitability with Managed Care: It’s Real Headlines2 days agoUK Gets Nationwide Contact Lens Recycling Program Buzz Session2 days agoFrom Travel to Exercise to Alcohol, ECPs Recharge in Diverse Ways True Tales2 days agoLuckily Surrogacy is Not a Job Requirement Columns2 days agoCelebrity Clients Are Cool, but Never Forget Who the Real Stars Are Headlines2 weeks agoDiet Soda May Contribute to This Vision Problem, Study Finds Real Deal4 weeks agoA Patient Pushes an Optician to Bend the Rules. Is This A Gray Area Or Are They Committing Fraud? 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