Key milestones

Building a brand

Optometrist Sachin Nath opened The Optical Co in Cobham earlier this year. He speaks to OT  about the importance of creating a brand

Sachin Nath

01 We opened The Optical Co in Cobham on 1 February this year.

Prior to opening our doors, we spent seven months developing a practice with a unique and relaxed design and curated an eyewear offering that combines exclusive contemporary designer products and exquisitely manufactured vintage frames. Our brand and image have been specifically tailored to encapsulate this relaxed and less corporate ethos, from the logo through to the colour pallet we have chosen. Our aim was to create a mid- to high-end practice where it is not about patient volume.

I believe that the creation of a memorable brand starts with the development of a good logo, and this was one of the first things we did after finding a location for the business. We knew that our logo had to tie in with the overall image that we wanted the brand to portray. Our brand resonates through everything we have done thereafter from the shop fit to the products we sell and the services we provide – they all project this image.

I believe that the creation of a memorable brand starts with the creation of a good logo, and this was one of the first things we did after finding a location for the business

 

02 Establishing a new practice is not for the faint-hearted as it is such a huge risk.

Prior to practice ownership, I was a locum working in and around Cobham. I got to know the area and the potential patient demographic really well and identified a gap in the market for a mid- to high-end independent. We would say that we are Cobham’s only truly independent opticians.

The first step was finding a unit in the right location and this took a long time. Once we found a unit in the right location, myself and my wife Jeenal, who is co-director, went through all of the pros and cons of taking the leap into practice ownership to make sure it was the right move. Agreeing that it was, the next step was to write a business plan so that we could secure funding. Finally, we needed to find another likeminded individual to work with us in the practice – someone who had the experience and ability to execute and deliver the same ethos and passion that we had to our customers.

03 Introducing a totally different concept to people who are so used to a corporate eye care vibe within an opticians has really been the most challenging thing.

The style and design of the practice, the layout and general welcome has a traditional feel. We offer standard eye tests that take 35 minutes and an advanced eye test with an optical coherence tomography scan that takes 45. The artisan and quirky frame ranges that we offer, including Hublot, Maybach, Kirk & Kirk and Tom Davies, are an entirely different approach to delivering optics on the High Street today. We are a styling opticians and like to take the time with patients talking to them about their needs over a coffee, making them feel comfortable and guiding them in their frame choices.

Inside The Optical Co

04 A colleague who I have worked with for a number of years, Simon, joined the team as practice manager and dispenser – he really understands what we are trying to achieve through the practice.

The basics of creating our brand is in accepting that both the clinical and retailing aspects of the business go hand in hand. It’s not just about the great clinical detail during the eye examination that I perform using the most cutting edge technology, but also having a great partner on the retail side who brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in retailing that helps build and develop The Optical Co’s brand with our customers.

The basics of creating our brand is in accepting that both the clinical and retailing aspects of the business go hand in hand

 

05 Over the many years I’ve worked within the optical industry, I’ve noted how a corporate image, style and way of working has taken over.

I’ve always longed to re-introduce the passion and enjoyment that I get from my work back into a practice that has the patients at the heart of everything in a fashion that has almost been forgotten. Feedback from customers has so far been really positive and business is going well.

  • As told to Emily McCormick.

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