Reputation and Branding for Independent Eye Doctors

Eye care whether we want to admit or not depends upon reputation and branding. For corporate eye care providers (“ECP”), branding comes easily as it employs widespread advertising, identical goods and services to strengthen and create its brand. On the other hand, the private independent ECP (“IECP”) has a much tougher task. Its resources and market reach are significantly less.

Our optometric forefathers knew branding and reputation well. Either by happenstance or by design, they built up their practices leveraging their name, their skill and their customer service. Today’s new crop of graduates faces a much tougher business climate. Market saturation makes the creation of unique reputations and brands difficult.

To survive though, IECP’s cannot ignore reputation and branding. One of the most crucial means of creating a positive one is to select “high involvement” services as the centerpiece of a strategy (Dens and DePelsmacker, 2010 and Lynn and Williams, 2006). Each has found that buyers need to know that a service that requires high involvement by all actors will have the greatest chance of creating a positive reputation and branding.

Each IECP must examine their service and product offerings and check which require high involvement and which doesn’t. Emphasizing the former will create a more durable reputation and branding that can be leveraged in low involvement offerings. For example, eye disease monitoring management, complex products will all build up unique reputations.


Dens, N., & De Pelsmacker, P. (2010). Consumer response to different advertising appeals for new products: The moderating influence of branding strategy and product category involvement. Journal Of Brand Management, 18(1), 50-65. doi:10.1057/bm.2010.22

LWIN, M. O., & WILLIAMS, J. D. (2006). Promises, Promises: How Consumers Respond to Warranties in Internet Retailing. Journal Of Consumer Affairs, 40(2), 236-260. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6606.2006.00057.x

As a reference, use this link to return to this blog post. 

About Richard Hom OD, MPA

Dr. Hom holds Doctor of Optometry and Masters in Public Administration degrees and practices family eye care and consults on public policy, health information technology and program evaluation.
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1 Response to Reputation and Branding for Independent Eye Doctors

  1. Richard, these are worthwhile comments. Our view on this “tougher business climate” is that health care reform is contributing to it, not creating it entirely but certainly contributing. Independents are especially at risk due to both big box retail and online purchasing. As we say, “retail has lost its stickiness”. But doctors can restore stickiness through what you’re calling “high involvement services”. Consumers can get less expensive glasses in many places but they can’t get good medical eye care just anywhere. Treated well, they’ll buy their eye wear where they get their eye care. We call this “from eyewear to eyecare”, essentially the need for medical model eye care, health care reform style.

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