How the Blue-Footed Boobie Helped Create the Warby Parker Brand

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June 30 2014 10:50 AM

How the Blue-Footed Boobie Helped Create the Warby Parker Brand

176601659-general-view-of-the-atmosphere-at-warby-parkers-store
A brand brought into focus with help from an eye-popping color

Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Warby Parker

This post first appeared in Business Insider.

When you open a case of Warby Parker glasses, there's a pop of bright blue. It's an allusion to a rare bird called the blue-footed boobie, explains co-CEO and cofounder Neil Blumenthal in his new Skillshare class.

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It's not just a fun fact. Long before Warby Parker had sold 1 million pairs of glasses, the bird actually helped Blumenthal and his cofounders David Gilboa, Andrew Hunt, and Jeffrey Raider develop the startup's brand.

warby-parker-bird-case

screenshot/Skillshare, Chris Jackson/Getty

It was the first thing they put on their "mood board," a collage commonly used by graphic designers before beginning a project, when they were formulating the company as students at UPenn's Wharton School of Business. They launched Warby Parker in early 2010.

Blumenthal recommends entrepreneurs use mood boards to help them develop their brands. Finding images you think capture the idea of the company you'd like to create and seeing them next to each other on the board can help shape the brand around your mission, he says.

In the Skillshare class "Mission, Vision, and Brand Architecture," Blumenthal explains why the blue-footed boobie helped them develop new aspects of the fun but sophisticated Warby Parker brand they were just beginning to create:

It's a bird that's found in the Galapagos, so you have to be sort of knowledgeable and worldly to know that it exists. It has a quizzical look on its face, so it's curious—and for us, we wanted to create a curious brand that was all about learning. When you look at its body, it sort of looks like a penguin, so it's got a tuxedo, so it's sophisticated—it has these design elements to it. And then you pan down, and a blue-footed boobie has these webbed, bright blue feet, and we just thought that was awesome and funny and has a little bit of flair, and a little bit of surprise. And that was something that we wanted to bring to Warby Parker. And then, of course, the name "blue-footed boobie," you kind of laugh when you hear it, and we wanted to take our work seriously but not ourselves seriously.

These types of quirky, creative conversations that a mood board inspires can allow you to build a personality around your business's purpose. 

In his Skillshare class, Blumenthal goes in-depth about how he and his cofounders started Warby Parker, focusing on the company's social mission—it donates a pair of glasses to poor parts of the world for every pair sold.

Here's a preview of his class, "Build a Social Mission-Driven Brand":

Richard Feloni is a strategy reporter at Business Insider. Follow him on Twitter.

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