There was a time, not all that long ago, when the mere mention of the word “brand” and any loyalty to a given brand immediately reminded me of my Dad and HIS loyalty to brands such as Craftsman tools and American Flyer toy trains from Gilbert. And more recently the word evoked memories of my friend (and former 20/20 magazine publisher Jim Vitkus) who once called me a “Brand Warrior” as regards 20/20.

That said, branding continues to play an increasingly important role in the optical arena in everything from frames (with designer and lifestyle brands playing out against the highly viable alternative of optical heritage brands known on these pages as Our Eyewear) to lenses to equipment to med-plan allegiances.

And although the very definition of a brand is wrapped up tightly on the promises of those involved with creating the identity of a brand, it must be remembered that at essence the actual success of a brand is based deeply on the commitment of a FOLLOWER of said brand. A branded product delivered via a dullard retailer is in true danger of death via boredom. And that same product in the possession of a lackadaisical consumer can do some serious danger especially in the all-important realm of word-of-mouth.

Nice to know then, that your voice (and choice) counts when it comes to bolstering brands. But note that it is not a responsibility that comes lightly. Your commitment will often be questioned. It will be challenged. And… if the product (we’re talking specifically eyewear here!) in any way fails to deliver in quality, identity or even a consumer’s perceived self-satisfaction, you are going to be called to task. So… choose wisely and choose with dedication.

On a personal note, I chose 20/20 as a vehicle for commitment to my own tools of communication nearly 20 years ago. With this year marking the 40th anniversary of 20/20, I remain happily on the “warpath” of the ideals and ideas reflected in every aspect of this magazine. There’s good stuff in the edit here (AND throughout the 20/20 delivered edit online at and on all of our socialEYEzing 2020mag efforts from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram and beyond). And I also stand grateful to the advertising clients willing to support these edit efforts.

Throughout this new year you will see numerous instances reminding you where we’ve been and where we are right now at 20/20. But even at the wise-old sage/age of 40, nothing matters more than where we intend to go anew. And we go anew with YOU. And you as readers are the most important brand on the 20/20 BrandStand.

James J. Spina