What IS Your Lifestyle Brand? How to be a kick-a$$ female entrepreneur, Part 2

This article appears in Eyecare Business Magazine, Business Strategies, April 2016

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ello, I’m Tanya Gill, O.D. I started this column because I wanted to share my journey from optometrist to entrepreneur. When you’re in school, you learn how to be a doctor, but not necessarily how to run a business. 

Do you wake up in the middle of the night wondering if the frame warmer was left on overnight? Ever stare at an amortization table and fantasize about making the last payment? 

Well, this is entrepreneurship. It’s the best thing in the entire world, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In this six-part series I’m sharing what makes this journey worthwhile—and how I continue to create my dream practice every day. 

 
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In Part 1 of this series, I talked about becoming a niche player. A big part of becoming a niche player is creating value in a unique way instead of providing value by discounting.

Consumers are really smart people. Thanks to Google and social media, information is just a keystroke away. Offering a 20% discount isn't enough to grab the attention of the consumer anymore. 

So, what is?

In 2014, I was trying to answer this exact question. It finally dawned on me when a 22 year old patient asked, "So, Dr Gill . . . what IS your lifestyle brand?

Truth be told, at the time I didn't have one, nor did it ever occur to me that my optometry practice needed one. Lifestyle brands were for companies like Apple and Audi, right?

Boy, was I totally wrong.

In the last two years I've discovered that growing your business as a lifestyle brand not only grabs but also maintains the attention of the consumer. After all, consumers love their brand names. Think long lines at the Apple store. That's brand loyalty. 

So how do we create brand loyalty? Building a lifestyle brand isn't easy. It's time consuming. And it's definitely a marathon, not a race. But in the end, it's super fun, and financially, it's a marathon worth running. Here are my five steps for beginning to build a long lasting, consumer grabbing, lifestyle brand.

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STEP 1. A mission statement and tagline.

The first thing I did was sit down and write a mission statement and a tagline. While a mission statement describes what a company does, a tagline is a short, powerful phrase. For example, the mission statement for Nike is "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world," while their tagline is the ever so famous "Just Do It." Isn't the tagline inspiring? 

This is how we are going to grow a lifestyle brand – through inspiration and repetitive use of our tagline. 

STEP 2. When it comes to taglines, be all up in your space.

A lifestyle brand takes months, if not years to build. The more a tagline is repeated in the office and digital space, the more effective it will be over time. 

To our exterior windows, we added an orange racer stripe with our tagline in big, bold letters at eye level to attract walk by traffic. Inside the office, we updated our tagline on all of our business cards, stationery, optical displays and promotional items such as lens spray, lens cloths, optical cases and shopping bags. 

On our website, our tagline appears right under the company name and is repeated on every page. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

 

STEP 3. #Hashtag that tagline.

With the consumer read of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, social media is queen when it comes to creating a lifestyle brand. Although it was a daunting task at first, we now post and #hashtag our tagline everyday. At first we did it for no particular reason (read: we didn't know what we were doing), but now we know we do it to build a community around our hashtag for the future.

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STEP 4. Define the lifestyle brand values.

After two weeks and hundreds of iterations, we came up with the tagline "We Love Eyes." It encompassed everything we were passionate about in three powerful words.

Our lifestyle brand wasn't just about glasses, contact lenses and glaucoma. Our brand included our patients, the staff, fabulous glasses with tons of personality and excellence in eye care. We have fun. We love donuts. We talk with sass. We want to inspire consumers to action when they see and read about our brand values.

After all, who doesn't love a donut?

 

STEP 5. Create content for social media to solidify the lifestyle brand.

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Consumers are smart. So content must stay current and fresh. 

We don't just take photos of eyeglasses on a table anymore. We refer back to our lifestyle brand values to help us mix it up: photos of donuts, inspirational quotes, patients in their new glasses, and my amazing staff. #consumersloveit

Creating a lifestyle brand is hard work. It will take months that grow into years. But it's worth it. Just today on our instagram, under a photo of donuts: "@suzzabee {tagging} @not_now_murray Where I will go to get my new eyeglasse." That's music to my eyes. 👓

—Tanya N. Gill, O.D.

Tanya N. Gill, O.D., is the owner of Oakland Vision Center Optometry in Oakland, CA. Dr. Gill is obsessed with ocular surface disease, kick-a$$ female entrepreneurship, never say- ing never, eating vegetables daily, and brightly colored sneaker pumps.