Warby Parker, is a brand with its eyes on its customers’ needs. It has grown in just 4 years from an e-commerce-only business to having retail locations in ten cities throughout the U.S. They’ve sold over 500,000 eyeglasses and distributed over a million, world-wide. What lessons can your brand learn by twisting with this innovative brand?

Founder David Gilboa along with his Wharton Business School friends Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, and Jeffrey Raider set out to challenge the conventional eyeglass business model, but couldn’t imagine they’d achieve so much success, in such a short time.

How were they able to innovate, compete, grow a loyal following and create customers who can’t stop raving about the brand in such a short time? Here are some key takeaways from Warby Parker that you can apply to your business to help keep your brand in the focus of your customer’s eye:


Look Through Your Customer’s Lens: Warby Parker’s founders took the frustrations they often experienced when shopping for eyeglasses and innovated their brand to offer what they would rather experience: lower costs, ease of access, transactions with no risk and no surprises, and classic, fashionable styles that won’t go out of date in a year.  If you were a customer of your business, what changes would you want to see? Have a friend or two do a Brand Experience Audit: they “shop” your business, make notes about their what they like and also where they feel confused or disappointed and report back to you.

Make Life Easier: By handling their own manufacturing, cutting out the middle-men retailers, and using in-house designers, Warby Parker was able to undercut most of the competition, sometimes by hundreds of dollars a pair. Plus, they put a TWIST into their pricing: One price of $95, for non-prescription, and one price of $150, for prescription, period – no surprises. Is there a way you could simplify your customer’s purchasing experience? Consider “package bundle” or “two-for” pricing, or rounding to the nearest dollar so shoppers can price-compare easily.

Eliminate the Risk: Their online “Virtual Try On” program permits you to upload a picture of yourself and “virtually try on” frames. And with the no-risk “Home Try-On” offer you can order 5 pairs to try on at home 100% free. An always-free shipping and return policy means you never have pay for what you don’t want. And Warby Parker will even contact your doctor for you if you don’t have your script handy. What could you do to take the risk out of trying your brand? Money back guarantees are great, but can you go further. Help them experience what it would be like to own your product. Can you offer “sample” sizes or programs that your customers can “try on”? 

Make Your Mark – Everywhere: All eyeglasses sold by Warby Parker are the Warby Parker brand and carry their logo. In-house designers create styles that stand the test time with classic designs that make you look fashionably good, look smart, and feel great. What touch points can you put your brand, tagline, or colors on to get noticed? Cash register receipts, pencils, pens, shopping bags, gift boxes and shipping boxes, websites, online social sites and emails can all carry your branding.


Connect Deeper: People do business with people – even if it’s an online shop. Customers want to connect and trust on a deeper level. Warby Parker focuses on walking the walk, and gaining your trust. They are all about sharing what has meaning for them, and they’ve made it even easier for you to feel good and be a part of a larger community, simply by shopping. Their Do Good policy guarantees a pair of eyeglasses is distributed to someone in need with every pair purchased. What part of your brand story or life is important to you and how can you bring that further into your customer’s experience? You could sponsor a local charity drive or kid’s sports team. Let customers know of your staff’s community service involvement and keep them informed of opportunities to contribute.

Keep Walking the Walk: Warby Parker further reinforces their brand commitment to great design and humanitarian importance by introducing specially designed lines where a portion of sales is donated to programs with a purpose, like this promotion currently running for Architecture for Humanity. Are you innovating? Even though things may be humming along it doesn’t mean you can slack off on innovation. Innovation is key. Even if you can’t add inventory or product, you can make little changes, like adding a new color to a line, running a limited edition product, or share the cost and partner in a promotion. Contests or giveaways are a fun way to stay fresh.


Magnify Your Location: Launching with a very limited budget, they only took out two ads, one in Vogue and one in GQ.  But they used a little creative thinking and their location to gain more – and almost free – press. Launching the day before the opening of NYC’s Fashion Week, they invited news media to an impromptu marketing “event” at the NYC Library. This garnered a lot of free press and buzz, for practically no cost. Are you taking advantage of right where you are to promote your business? Attend or host local meet ups to connect with other businesses and customers. Consider your office or shop to be a destination and have an open house, tasting, fashion or art event or charity drive. Call the local press and fill them in. 

Expand Your Vision: Though they are now doing a little more advertising, close to 50% of Warby Parker’s marketing is word of mouth. Being an affordable, reliable, trusting and caring brand would be enough to secure loyal brand ambassadors, but Warby Parker goes further make themselves unforgettable: they take eyeglasses off of your face, and put them in your place.

Photos on their website and in ads not only show people wearing their glasses, but they show eyeglasses at places where you want to be like at a picnic table full of luscious herbs and barbecue. They show them in your home, on nightstands with fresh flowers and intriguing books or on dressing tables next to precious jewelry and sentimental love notes – they become beloved accessories right along side all of your favorite things and each time you wear them you want the world to know about it. Home is where your Warby Parkers are. How can you expand your customer’s vision of your product? Think about your target customer: what they love, what their favorite destinations, TV shows, and activities are – can you picture your product there? 

Learning from innovative businesses and TWISTING them to build your brand is our core principle at Brand School – the premier learning program for small businesses, non profits, and entrepreneurs. Find out more here.





This post is part of our Brands That Twist series celebrating innovative brands. Read about other breakthrough brands and more ways to grow your business and brand here

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Julie is the Founder and CEO of BrandTwist, a brand consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and corporations build stronger, more profitable brands.


  1. Great article highlighting a great brand. These guys are getting it right, again and again. I believe in everything you talk about in this post. This is a brand that shows empathy toward people an behaves in ways that people can get behind and believe in, thus helping the brand thrive. We have recently written a white paper on How to Transform Your Brand for the 21st Century: http://www.emotivebrand.com/thought/transforming-your-brand-into-an-emotive-brand/
    It talks to the power of emotive branding which is our methodology, but it talks about how to be a meaningful brand — how to develop a brand strategy that connects on three principals: Empathy, Feelings and Purpose.


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