What is branding? Google it and a mile-long list of definitions will appear, but Webster's first definition is this, “the action of marking with a branding iron”. Pertaining to cattlemen and ownership rights, the idea was that once you saw a certain mark on cattle, you would know exactly who the cattle belonged to. Eufora Business Trainer, and Jill Higginbotham, co-owner of J Michael’s Spa and Salon in Louisville, Kentucky, found similarities in how this pertains to the salon industry, and shared her insights in a recent Eufora online tutorial.
The questions she posed? What if salons created such strong brand recognition that the words salon or spa weren’t necessary with their logo? What if every time a guest walked down the street, people knew instantly who did their hair? Impactful branding may be able to do just that. While the ideal branding may be different for each salon, the path to getting there is essentially the same. Higginbotham tells salon owners, “The truth is that branding in our industry requires a completely different mindset. You have to think small to become big.”
It may seem counterintuitive; however, salons do rely on their local communities to fill appointment slots, not global fashion magazines like Vogue. While it may be rewarding to receive national recognition or to have thousands of followers on social media, if the local community doesn’t understand the culture of the salon, it's all for naught. By focusing on the local market, and key influencers, salons can create a solid brand message that is sure to attract the ideal guest.
Where to start? When creating logos, websites, menus, and all other print or social media Higginbotham says, “Don’t hesitate to seek professional help to ensure maximum impact! Just as we encourage our communities to utilize our hair expertise, we should respect the professional billion-dollar marketing machine in the same way. Never be discouraged by a budget that is nearly nonexistent. Instead, search for local independent contractors who may be willing to work for a trade of services!”
In preparation for a branding assessment, Higginbotham encourages salon owners to develop honest answers to these essential five questions:
- Who is the ideal salon guest?
- What services does the salon do best?
- How old is the ideal salon guest?
- What profession do most guests embrace?
- What examples of brands/logos are appealing to you, and why?
This is the foundation for strategic brand development. These elements set wheels in motion, but what actually fuels the financial machine? If the goal is to equate results to guests in chairs and dollars in the bank, then this is where Webster’s second definition of branding comes into play stating, “the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.”
Investing in expensive commercials is not required. There are other creative ways to reach a target audience. if the ideal guest is a young business professional, look for community business associations or social clubs where they gather, and consider advertising on their website or in their publications. Attend a meeting, and have salon referral cards ready! Remember, whether via Zoom or in person, networking is the number one way to promote your brand and gain new guests. Higginbotham also suggests reaching out to local news anchors and sports personalities to see if they might be interested in a personal consultation from a local salon with a great reputation.
For those owners who wonder if any of this actually works, Higginbotham’s answer is simple and direct. “Yes it works. Since opening our salon doors 10 years ago J Michael’s has utilized all of these methods. There have been times my business has struggled, and gone through shifts that could have shut our doors. We never gave up. Instead, we thrived, continued to grow and ultimately created such a strong brand that our community now thinks of us as a cornerstone!"
Set small goals to start, like getting recognized in the local city magazine as one of the top salons in the area, or perhaps one of the best places to work in the community. The best advice, offers Higginbotham, is to stay the course, and don’t give in to distractions that won’t support your goal. Salon owners who would like to learn more from Higginbotham, and other Eufora Business Trainers, should enroll in Eufora University online where many tutorials are provided free of charge.
About Eufora: In a category that’s crowded with rampant brand over promising, the Eufora voice stands out as honest, real and personal. It takes its cues from the vision of company founders, Don and Beth Bewley, who, in 1997, started a hair care company built on a foundation of passion, integrity and caring for the professional salon world. Today Eufora is recognized globally for a vision that extends beyond the innovation of people and planet friendly products, delivering on a promise to provide incomparable leadership programs and technical training to nurture and grow the next generation of salon professionals. To learn more please visit www.eufora.net
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