Regular 20/20 readers might feel we sometimes devote too much edit space on branding as it relates to all aspects of optical retailing but the value of understanding how branding affects consumer buying trends and customer loyalty is intensely important. And one’s understanding of it must go beyond the knowledge and dedication needed strictly within the optical arena. Our opening feature story, “A Brand New Bag” by executive editor Jackie Micucci, goes a long way toward enhancing that insight. And the potential of developing a strong name identity is also reinforced with our L&T cover story, “Lens Branding.”

Every year in March 20/20 delivers a mid-month issue, What’s Brand New, specifically dedicated to understanding the brands within the eyewear industry. But I thought it rather jarring recently reading a cover story in BusinessWeek to realize that in their listing of the 100 Top Brands a name with an eyewear connection didn’t show up until Disney at position number seven.

Now granted, The BusinessWeek criteria is qualified with marketing and financial data based on intricate earning parameters, global qualifications, an analysis of future potential for growth and a variety of complex economic filters, but the dearth of brands in the BW list currently involved in any optical scenario is shocking. By my count there are only about 16 brands with most showing up at the bottom of the list and nearly all of them devoted to luxury and high-end eyewear collections such as Prada, Bulgari, Burberry and Armani. Sport icons Nike and Adidas muscle in but that’s a limited showing compared to the eight automobile brands racing both up and down (last year’s rankings are also included) the list.

Some of the names (such as GAP and Apple) offer fresh optical possibilities but other consumer strongholds (ranging from Heinz to Shell) would be hard pressed for any face or eye potential. The point here is that the branding game (or quest) is criss-crossed by a continually growing set of often temperamental and diverse rules, and in order to better understand how to play in this game as a retailer one needs to go far beyond the cliché of just thinking outside the box.

You need to actually throw the box away.

Here’s hoping you let 20/20 have the opportunity to help you take out the garbage, so to speak. And in the case of this particular delivery of insight there is NO recycling. Every aspect is ‘brand’ new, every month, in every issue.


James J. Spina