It’s been years. I actually cannot think of a specific retail-related topic I’ve written more about than branding. Back in my early (apparel and sport) trade publishing days it was more commonly referred to as “licensing” but the basic premise has always been the same.

The crux of “branding” revolves around folks feeling secure in the comforting environment of loyalty. And it is not just a consumer issue. It’s a “people” thing. In mucho matters from religion to nationality to locality, there is a solid need for a sense of trust, community and near spiritual loyalty when it comes to human beings and their relationships to brands especially relating to food, clothing and shelter.

I guess I originally became aware of this loyalty as a child observing (and blindly following) paternal decisions in such diverse matters as cars (my dad was a Chevy guy), tools (he pledged devotion to Sears Craftsman gear) and toy trains (Santa delivered American Flyers to me while most of my cousins got Lionel). My high school and college years saw a steady revolution of London records on my (Emerson) stereo since that record label specialized in British groups.

And by the time my first work gig kicked in, a fledgling group of mostly American clothing designers where busy finessing the bond between lifestyle and fashion branding, most notably Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.

This seemingly limitless quest to secure a person’s loyalty via branding grows stronger day by day. In this particular 20/20 we’ve played around with the three-pronged approach to eyewear branding breaking it up in digestible categories of lifestyle, fashion designer and actual eyewear designer collections. We could have cut the deck in a plethora of situations. We do just that every year with our annual March What’s Brand New issue. Gloria Nicola does it every month as she delivers the latest in “What’s Right Now,” our opening new product page devoted to brands impacting trends. Jackie Micucci tracks that same branding factor monthly as she vacuums the red carpet in search of brand loyalty on the faces of celebrity royalty. And next month she’s freshly exploring the branding topic as it relates to specifically to sunwear in our quarterly SunVision issue.

So I guess you could guess we’re quite “loyal” to the concept of branding. That said, here’s hoping one of YOUR favorite “brands” is 20/20.

James J. Spina