How Big Brands Use Holistic Branding and Why It Matters

Warby Parker is a successful multi-million dollar business that revolutionized the eyeglasses industry with their perfect execution of a Brand Commitment: declaring their highest business and branding purpose, finding the people this resonates with most, and meeting their deepest needs.

Recently Tony Robbins interview Warby Parker founder, Neil Blumenthal. What resonated with me was what Blumenthal said about branding his business and that for high-level leaders, “brand architecture is your reason for being.”

“Brand matters more than ever. Experience is a buzz word, but it really does matter, and it’s a holistic experience. Our brand is not just our product; it’s the moment somebody hears about Warby Parker.” – Neil Blumenthal

This is a perfect example of holistic branding, or as I like to call it Brand Commitment. Blumenthal is taking every brand touchpoint of the customer experience and crafting it to align with the brand’s highest commitment, in his case–an accessible, easy, and fun experience with eyeglasses.

My husband wears glasses and doesn’t have a lot of time to go to the eyeglasses doctor, then wait for a salesperson to help him fit them to his face (why is there only one salesperson there anyways, why is this taking so long?), and then hope he made the right choice and looks stunning and handsome (like he always does).

What if a company saved him time, gave him options that were on trend then shipped them to his house so he can try them on at home, to make the right choice on his terms?


Enter Warby Parker’s Brand Commitment

Let’s break down what this means so you can apply a Brand Commitment to your business or leadership style.

We live in a purpose-based economy and as Blumenthal says, “We really need to expand our thought on what a brand is.”

Branding is no longer a marketing strategist buying ad space; it’s not billboards or networking, it’s both your on- and off-line experience. This includes your customer experience, and, an important and over looked experience: when your employees are sharing “what they do” with the outside world. Personal conversations are a perfect opportunity to share your company’s Brand Commitment.

Nowadays the majority of employees feel burnt out and are lacking purpose in their work. Emerging leaders are underdeveloped and the internal culture is hurting the company brand. So, as an external leadership coach, I use design thinking and leadership practices, in a workshop or 1-1 setting, to get straight to the heart of what’s getting in the way. This results in everyone, engaged and driving your internal culture. Just imagine– what’s possible if your employees are in alignment with your Branding Commitment?


STEP 1: Find your Brand Commitment

When a successful brand starts with aligning your business goals with heart, purpose and brand commitment.

I call the heart of a brand the Brand Commitment. In business speak, this is the Unique Selling Point, or Proposition, or Mission Statement. In branding terms, we soften it up a bit to pull on our customer’s and client’s heartstrings and make a human connection.

“Vulnerability is key to relationships. Brands can create relationships just like human beings create relationships.” – Neil Blumenthal

Your Brand Commitment is what is going to make you wake up in the morning and create a fantastic internal culture, and build loyal ambassadors that wildly promote and share your brand.

From a personal branding standpoint, your Brand Commitment is your highest life purpose. What were you put on this world to do? From this place, we set the intention for the brand.

I take my clients through a series of design thinking tools and leadership coaching techniques to reveal their Brand Commitment, whether they are a small business or a corporation.

For the sake of time, let’s imagine you’ve created an intentional, heart-centered brand on the inside of your company with a mission statement that resonates and is actionable, now, what happens with the outside of your brand?

Branding on the outside is how we approach our customers and clients through visuals and strategy.

Often, brand strategists and ad agencies skip straight to building the exterior of a brand, which is a sure-fire way to fail. Anyone can learn how to execute the best ad campaign out there; it’s only a success if people connect with you as a leader, care about your business, and most importantly–for your employees–share what they are proud to be a part of.


STEP 2: Target your Target Audience

Moving forward, let’s imagine you have the Brand Commitment in place, it’s in alignment with your highest purpose and your employees are committed to the future vision.

It’s soaked through your culture, language and it’s your “reason for being,” as Blumenthal says.

The next step is to take a deep dive into your target audience, your tribe. I always say that it’s called “Target Audience” for a reason. You need a target to hit.

The obvious question is: where are they?

Where are they having conversations, and where can you add value to those conversations?

Who are they? Who do they want to become?

Why would they care about you as a leader and your business?

Take time to answer these questions, it will point you in the right direction when you need to connect to the people who you want to serve.


STEP 3: Find their Pain Point

Let’s continue with Warby Parker as our example.

I shared my husband’s point–finding eyeglasses that are on-trend without the hassle of going to a doctor’s office or stuffy local eyeglass shop.

This is Warby Parker’s “Blue Ocean Strategy, their Brand Commitment. They turned the eyeglass industry on their head by totally recreating how their customers engage with and experience shopping for eyeglasses.

Diving deep into what your target audience’s pain points are and recreating their experience by solving their problem, is a beautiful way to make your brand stand above the rest.

As a leader of your business, consider how you can empower your employees to invest time and energy into deep conversations with their customers to find their pain points. Truly ask them, ‘What do you want? What else? What else?” And finding the gap in what’s available to them, and filling it with what you offer.

With your target audience in place, brand strategy is the manifestation of your brand in the world, how it shows up and touches your customer and client at every interaction, on and offline.

If you notice there is a disconnect between your company’s mission and how your employees are showing up at work–burnt out, overwhelmed, or frankly, leaving the company–consider that the company’s business goals and Brand Commitment are not resonating with your staff and you are literally losing money and talent because of it.


A few definitions:

Branding is the ongoing story + visuals that are created in your customer’s mind from your Brand Commitment.

The ultimate goal in brand strategy is to create a consistent brand experience for your customers and clients across all of your brand touchpoints.

A brand touchpoint includes any platform you touch your customers like your website, social media, retail shop, your hang tag on clothing, your packaging, a thank you note, email signature, and oftentimes your, leadership as a business owner. Literally everything your customers come into contact with.


Be Bright Lisa



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