Eyeglasses used to be something no one wanted to have to wear. Today Warby Parker is one of the companies behind the glasses' stylish evolution. In the process, they've become one of the hippest brands in the world with the rapid growth to match.

Warby Parker co-founder and CEO Neil Blumenthal credits his success to implementing an authentic branding strategy that has resonanted with customers via word-of-mouth and on social media. It's the reason why he believes more startups should invest in developing their brand and getting their message out there. 

In an interview included in 99U's new book, Make Your Mark, Blumenthal revealed his secret to creating an authentic lifestyle brand that treats customers the way they want to be treated. Below are three proven branding tactics from the hot e-commerce startup:

1. Don't Fake It

"People have extremely sensitive BS detectors these days," Blumenthal says. They "can pick up on a brand’s authenticity -- or fakeness -- immediately."

To gain the consumer's trust, Warby Parker has made transparency and honesty a key components of its customer relations, especially when it comes to owning up to a mistake before it becomes a bigger issue.

2. Don't Forget the Little Things

Being honest and accepting responsibility is just the beginning in starting an authentic relationship with customers. According to Blumenthal, brands should also be proactive about making customers feel their needs are being met.

"For us, that might be offering a discount, it might be offering free glasses, it might be doing whatever it takes to get that person a pair of glasses before they go on vacation," he says. "It's the little things that make a brand great."

3. Don't Be a Control Freak

According to Blumenthal, a brand is no longer a strict messaging hierarchy. With the social Web, a brand's messaging is constantly changing and consumers are helping shape it every day.

"Your brand is part of conversations that are being had in the streets, on Twitter, and on Instagram," he says. "And the best that you can do is help influence that dialogue by giving people reasons to talk positively about it. These days, your community managers are your brand managers."

Published on: Nov 24, 2014