Why reinventing the category matters.
The eyewear industry has a new set of optics. The old business model built on high-priced opticians and retailers gave way to online brands like Warby Parker that curated a customer experience (CX) while still extracting a significant premium. Today, direct-to-consumer brands like Zenni Optical have reframed the conversation and customer experience, delivering exponential choice at dramatically lower price tags.
Brand marketing strategy: Eyewear as a wardrobe item.
Price is a simple calculation. In the case of Zenni, however, the price creates a fundamentally new way to think about eyewear. When people can afford multiple pairs of glasses, self-expression suddenly becomes a powerful and inviting brand marketing strategy and story.
We were able to crystallize this idea with a new branding statement: Eyewear For Every You. By elevating individuality and style, we transformed price into an empowering message of self-expression. As a result, we were able to help foster more durable relationships between Zenni and its customers.
Branding and logo refresh.
The design of the Zenni wordmark and logo reflected this switch to a richer brand experience. The look is fashion-driven and reinforces a strong sense of quality and craft — an important asset for eyewear at such a surprisingly low price. All elements of the system — from textural patterns and color palettes to typography and photography — help express the new brand positioning strategy of personal style.
While the visual language brought a new level of style and design sense, it’s important to note Zenni is a populist brand. In spirit and mission, it’s Target — not Lord & Taylor. Material developed a verbal identity and voice that was more lighthearted, inclusive, and invitational. The Zenni message encouraged people to re-imagine eyewear from a fresh point of view. Out with expensive and elitist, in with affordable, engaging, and fun.
The Zenni customer experience.
The entire brand came to life on the Zenni e-commerce website. Material explored all ideas for how people would browse, try on frames virtually, fill their shopping carts, and make personal profiles. Buying prescription glasses online is a new idea, so we created a learning center to kickstart their education. Ultimately, all CX, UX, and UI work centered on building a stronger relationship with new customers and long-time fans.
We also examined how we could rev up the retail experience. We helped develop a year-round program of collections, sub-brands, and seasonal promotion ideas that would keep the Zenni story fresh and relevant. An extensive set of seasonal color palettes brought a distinctive and energetic look to each month of the calendar.
In taking a 360-degree view of the Zenni brand, we were able to unify all the touchpoints into one cohesive story. A company built on a price tag now has a compelling story that celebrates individual style and creative expression — and offers an experience that differentiates it from competing brands.
Product design and “The Cure for FryEye.”
A new trend in product design for eyewear is the development of blue blocker lenses. This technology filters out the harmful blue light from computer screens that can cause burning, irritated eyes. While most companies take a scientific or medical approach to telling that story, Zenni wanted something different. In keeping with their playful, engaging brand voice, we created Blokz (Zenni’s proprietary lens tech) and presented it as the Cure for FryEye.
Running with the Bulls.
As Zenni gains status and mass-market appeal, sports sponsorships become a powerful medium to reach a diverse TV audience. Zenni began a partnership with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, bringing their eyewear story alive on the Bulls jerseys and throughout the arena. In a branding sense, Zenni got game.