By Linda Conlin, Pro to Pro Managing Editor

What is branding? According to the Entrepreneur Small Business Encyclopedia, “your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.”

The Opticians Association of America (OAA) notes that “widespread branding and marketing—not only of our organization but of the field of opticianry itself—is vital. The simple fact is that average consumers no longer know the difference between an optician and an optometrist, or even an obstetrician.” (This is very true! I once had an angry woman tell me she was going to take her son to a different obstetrician!) The OAA message continues, “the very survival of our field depends on our collective effort to educate consumers regarding exactly WHO We Are and WHAT We Do. Because if they don't know who we are and what we do, they don't know how much they need us.”

Image courtesy of Opticians Association of America 
For their part, the OAA continually seeks ways to educate consumers about what we do and our importance to the quality of their lives. When this is done in a cohesive, unified message, that is, telling the right story, we market our brand and increase public awareness of what we offer everyone everyday – better vision.

What can we do? The OAA offers some very simple suggestions:

  • Wear a name tag with the word ‘optician’ on it
  • Add the "Opticians: Helping America See" logo to your correspondence and business cards
  • Take every opportunity to tell your customers about your training, education and certifications
  • Hang your licenses, diplomas and certificates where your customers can see them
  • Become a member of your state association and the OAA; there is power in your membership, and the impact of our collective voice depends on strength in numbers
  • Use social media to educate and to share all branding messages, images and information
To help us tell our story, the OAA offers a logo, videos, branded apparel and even a reading card to help consumers understand that they can trust their vision to an educated, trained professional. (Can they be assured of getting those qualifications from an online retailer?) Entrepreneur Small Business Encyclopedia notes, “Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company's products or services.” That value encourages relationships with consumers who, unlike with many other products and services, very often don’t know which of all the options available are best for their vision needs. Explaining and educating are where we can do our finest work, so start the conversation!

Be sure to support your professionalism with continuing education. 20/20 Magazine offers a great selection of CE courses, and right now you can take advantage of our BOGO CE Summer Sale. Select your courses at and enter CESummerSale at checkout. It’s a win-win!