Companies that are surviving, even thriving, in this economy have created a market presence that stands out from the crowd, and salons are no different. The link between strategically branding your salon and drawing a loyal clientele has been well established. Consistency is key: success results when owners drive that brand throughout every facet of decor, staff training, customer service, marketing, signage, service delivery and retailing.

It's no surprise, then, that personalized product branding has recaptured the imagination. Why carry product lines that promote another corporate brand when you can dress bottles and jars in your own logo?

Todd Shea is the marketing director for Aware Personalized Branding. In this podcast, he discusses how a personalized brand can help a salon differentiate itself in its marketplace and solidify client loyalty. Plus, he outlines the steps in launching your own branded line.

"Your personalized brand of high-quality, professional products offers you the opportunity to set  yourself apart and increase your revenue," says Todd Shea, marketing director for Aware Personalized Branding. "Your personalized brand of products will dramatically increase your margins and become a traveling billboard for your salon. You've spent years developing and refining your salon's image and concept. It only makes sense for your brand of choice to support and reinforce this message."

Although the salon industry has battled long and hard against diversion, professional products continue to show up on drugstore shelves. Products developed through personalized branding, however, remain exclusive to the salon. Clients get used to the idea of stopping by the salon to pick up their refills, and every time a client walks into a salon there's an opportunity to book services and promote more products.
Normally, a stylist who laves could join a competing salon that carries the same product line. Clients who follow the stylist, then, would be able to continue purchasing the products they were accustomed to using. Personalized branding eliminates that possibility; clients are less likely to follow that stylist when it means switching out all of their familiar formulas.

"You don't have to create demand for your personalized product line, because demand already exists among your current customers," adds Shea. "You'll notice an increase in foot traffic and greater repeat business. The salon becomes the single place a customer can come for a specific product."

Before jumping into personalized branding, Shea advises, owners should evaluate their retail presence. Listing six checkpoints, he urges owners to ask themselves if they:

    * Maintain a strong retail approach.
    * Recognize retail's potential as a profit center.
    * Understand brand marketing and respect product as the face of the salon.
    * Have a salon large enough to handle minimum orders.
    * Carry, at most, two additional brands.
    * Involve stylists in the retailing process.

With staff input, owners can establish price points and shape a retail profit structure that addresses revenue needs. Says Shea, "You can extend your brand to provide total hair care to all hair types. Clients can walk out with every product they need to reproduce their look at home and, at the same time, have a visual of your brand every single day."

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