Eyeye and the story of better: how to build a brand on a budget!

This is the second in a series of blog posts about our theme of the month: branding for beginners. (Catch up on the first one here). 

The June Third Sector Café discussion is at Eyeye Opticians on Division Street.

It will tell the story of optician Karl who had become disillusioned with working for the big multiples, and dreamed of being able to offer his patients a better service by setting up his own practice. (BOOK your ticket to join us on Thursday 21 June, 9.30 to 11.20 am).

This story is relevant for non-profits who, like Eyeye, are often small and under-resourced - but have big ambitions to engage an audience of people with who share similar values. 

Starting a small independent opticians is a daunting challenge. Optometry is a fiercely competitive industry dominated by big corporates who invest a lot on advertising and a low-price, high-volume model. Everyone knows they “should’ve gone to specsavers”.

How could a small independent compete?

Karl had already taken the step of setting up his own practice when he met branding expert Justine Gaubert. Although - as a very experienced optician - he knew exactly what he wanted to do differently to create a better experience for his patients, as a branding beginner, he didn’t know how to go about communicating this externally.

In fact, as a branding novice, he also hadn’t yet really understood why he should use his values to shape his marketing, just as much as to shape their approach to patient care. 

Justine spent time with Karl and his shop manager Alison, helping them to define their values, and find the right words to describe them. During this time, she also booked in for an eye test. This proved to offer the best insight into Karl and Alison’s mission to offer better care. It was so much better than any eye test she’d had before that it ‘opened her eyes’ to what was possible.

Once she’d understood what they were doing, Justine drew on her professional branding expertise to encourage them to be as bold and confident in their marketing as they were in the way they worked with patients in the practice.

For Karl, this felt a bit exposing. “Justine encouraged me to bolder in what I said. To be clearer in sharing my views about why its important to offer patients unrushed, much longer eyetests. She said be different, be distinctive, tell people what you think and how you do things. Initially I found this hard to do. But as we’ve done it more we find we attract customers who share our values and like the way we do things, and I’ve become more comfortable with it. And I can see that it makes perfect sense to put our values at the centre of our marketing, just as we do in the way we relate to our customers in-person.”

Justine helped Karl to understand how he could use branding to make his marketing far more powerful and effective (and this also helps them to get best value out of any money they do invest in promotion).

Some steps included:

·         Have a clear identity and tell people what it is – so they can understand you and decide if you offer them something they’d like

·         Get to know your customers and what’s important to them – together they worked on identifying who would be the best fit for their values (ie not everyone)

·         Use campaigns as a useful to create messages which are tailored to fit the interests of people you want to attract

·         Walk the talk, be authentic – the way you behave with your marketing should be the in-line with the way you behave in person.

If this still all sounds easier said than done, then Karl and Justine will be talking through how they put these branding principles into action at the June Café to help launch Eyeye and start to build a base of customers Karl and Alison love to work with, and who love to get their eyecare at Eyeye!

As well as all the thinking they did about what words to use to describe their values, Karl also made good use of free and low-cost digital tools to help him with his marketing and he is happy to talk about how he used them to create good-looking promotions on a budget. These included:

·         Mailchimp – to design and mail out attractive branded enewsletters

·         Tickets for Good – to promote events at Eyeye, designed to attract people with similar interests and values

·         Canva – to create branded posters, flyers, adverts

·         Squarespace – to create a website with an eshop

·         Social media – facebook, twitter and instagram

BOOK to join us - we look forward to seeing you.

Sophy Hallam