2017 Transform Awards gold, silver & bronze winner
Zenni Optical
Disrupting the Disruptors

Why re-inventing the category matters

The eyewear industry has a new set of optics. The old model built on high priced opticians and retailers gave way to online brands like Warby Parker that curated an experience while still extracting a significant premium. Today direct-to-consumer brands like Zenni Optical have reframed the conversation, delivering exponential choice at dramatically lower price tags.

While they’re now selling four million pairs a year, Zenni came to Salt for a far-sighted look at their proposition. This dictated the move from a functional economic pitch to a more emotional connection with their audience. And with a crowd of imitators ramping up, it was an ideal moment to evolve and strengthen their disrupter brand.

The eyewear wardrobe

Price is a simple calculation. In the case of Zenni, however, price creates a fundamentally new way to think about eyewear. When people can afford multiple pairs of glasses, suddenly, self-expression becomes a powerful and inviting story. 

We were able to crystallize this idea with a new statement for the brand: Eyewear For Every You. By elevating individuality and style, we transformed price into an empowering message of self-expression.

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 positioning 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. Salt 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 web experience

The entire brand came to life on the Zenni e-commerce website. Salt 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 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 touch points into one cohesive story. A company built on a price tag now has a compelling brand story that celebrates individual style and creative expression.

Why evolving a disrupter matters

While Zenni is transforming the way people buy prescription eyewear, the imitators and rivals were closing the gap. By reframing the price story as a new way for people to think about eyewear, fashion and self-expression, Zenni once again rewrote the industry rulebook. This is a disruptor with staying power.

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