How Glasses.com is framing its brand renaissance

Competing as a company in 2015 means appealing to the millennial, and there’s no exception for Glasses.com. The e-commerce eyewear retailer is overhauling its website and relaunching with a new brand identity this week, and the company’s key strategy is to highlight a specific mindset, and shop that to consumers.

That mindset: “Style has no prescription,” said Amy Larson, Glasses.com’s vp of e-commerce and marketing.

The retailer, which Luxottica bought from 1-800-Contacts last year, commissioned a crew of photographers to capture the idea that one’s glasses should be more than just a vision corrective; they ought to be an expression of the wearer’s personal style. The Glasses.com store sells over 60 brands at different price points, and they’re encouraging customers to stock up and swap out their frames, depending on how they’re feeling.

Here’s what customers can expect when eyeing the new Glasses.com, which will roll out this Wednesday.

Fashion over function
Yes, glasses serve a purpose (an important one, for those without 20/20 vision), but the new Glasses.com isn’t concerned about that.

“Shoes serve a basic, functional role, but people don’t see shoes as functional anymore,” said Larson. “That’s what we’re trying to do with glasses: make it about self expression.”

Glasses.com launched in 2011 to sell discounted eyewear from designer brands. Larson said they want to shatter the association between doctors’ prescriptions and the act of purchasing glasses, hoping customers will buy multiple pairs to keep in rotation rather than replacing a pair of frames every two years.

The customer service team is trained to promote that shopping pattern. Called “glasses gurus,” they give style and fashion advice – what type of frame would look best on a certain face, for instance – as well as the functional.

A demographic ‘mindset’
Glasses.com has relaunched its key demographic, dubbed, Larson said, “style storytellers,” which invoke an implication of another key demographic – millennials.

“They’re primarily millennials,” admitted Larson. “But it’s more of a mindset than a demographic. It’s people who are interested in expressing who they are.”

Fair enough, since Glasses.com offers frames and price points for just about any shopper, their inventory isn’t inclusive of one demographic. But, according to Larry Vincent, chief branding officer at UTA Brand Studio, offering a lot of product can impair a brand identity.

“Warby Parker, for instance, feels organic because they had a holistic view with what their business was about. They know what matters to them and consumers pick up on that,” Vincent said. “How do you get a sense of who [Glasses.com] is as a brand when they carry many different things?”

Vincent suggests communicating a brand personality through passion. Tom Buontempo, president of Attention Global, echoed that idea, arguing that overall brand passion is akin to authenticity, even when the brand is undergoing an identity revival.

“There’s always an opportunity to expand what you’re known for as a brand and your appeal, it has to feel authentic. It’s about identifying the passion points of the audience.”

To that end, Glasses.com isn’t wasting any time identifying their new demographic’s passions: they’re an official sponsor of Coachella.

Improved visuals
The most important social platforms of Glasses.com’s relaunch are also, fittingly, the most visual. Larson said they plan to further evolve their Instagram and Pinterest presence so customers can see what they’re brand is about. Glasses.com currently has 5,265 followers on Instagram; the majority of their posts feature blogger partnerships. For now, they’re on Pinterest “minorly,” said Larson, with 267 followers.

Glasses.com recruited four photographers to help promote that idea of self expression, both through their online store and social. Tired of traditional eyewear photography, which Larson called “clinical, in studio shots,” the company scrapped that approach, pulling back the lens to capture artsy lifestyle shots of young people, out in the world, wearing glasses.

Logan Havens Photography

The photographers – Monika Ottehenning, We Are Sisu, Luke & Mallory Photography and Logan Havens Photography – come from all over the US and bring their own backstory to the table, according to Larson.

“They’re all people with a story to tell. Just by looking at the photograph, you can tell it’s a different approach.”

An approach that, the Glasses.com team hopes, translates to glasses feeling more like a style choice and less like a medical device.

Sign up to get the day’s top stories at 6am eastern.