The other day I walked into Warby Parker’s (a discount eyewear brand) showroom-office in the flossy Puck building and thought to myself: “If Warby Parker were a person he’d be the lead singer in an indie band.” The thought just popped in my head as I walked in and idled over to the office space – so approachable.
Like Warby Parker, successful brands have a lot in common with indie bands, including their open-ended approach to creativity and ability to maintain a community of advocates or ‘fans’. Both brands and bands hold a sense of responsiveness to their fans, and constantly aim to keep them in the loop through a variety of their favorite channels.
Indie bands don’t have the strain of being tied down by big record labels, and it shows in the way they deliver their music and how they communicate with their fans. They are human and approachable. Concurrently, successful brands tend to be less pressured by sales, and more concerned with how they are perceived – a quality that all brands should follow, but many don’t. For both, there is a general sense of gratitude for their followers, which equates to a relatively happier, more positive experience for everyone.
The comparison between successful brands and indie bands is also evident in the way they market themselves. They both tend to utilize traditional forms of marketing in the most untraditional and creative way possible, and often incorporate a variety of guerrilla style campaigns throughout. In Warby Parker’s case, this meant putting pop-up shops in the lobbies of hip hotels and taking a “class trip” across the United States in an old school bus. To an indie band it could mean streaming their entire album online, simply replying to every fan email, our dropping an entire digital album (music videos included) with no prior publicity. Regardless of the method, effectiveness is key.
At Warby Parker an associate came over and offered to help me select a frame and I realized it was one of the company’s founders, the lead singer – unsurprisingly transparent.