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Management Practices

Lemonade Marketing

Stacey Soble | September 11, 2015 | 9:00 AM

Like most salon owners, Bryan Nunes was feeling stressed about the investment he had made in his first business venture when he was preparing to open the doors at Blo in Raleigh, North Carolina, ten years ago. Each day, he was hit with a new bill to cover or another unforeseen delay in construction which kept the salon from generating revenue. As Blo was a self-funded project, that stress accumulated quickly.

Nunes says Redken, the manufacturer Blo chose to align with, did much to ease the pain, and one of the things they offered was free capes and smocks with the Redken logo on it.

“I remember at the time, it wasn’t really fashionable to have the salon’s logo on the attire,” Nunes says. “Although their offer was generous, we declined because we knew our plan was to build loyalty to the brand we were committed to creating in our local community.”

Then, one day, the new capes and smocks with the salon’s logo were delivered, and Nunes says his sense of pride was overwhelming. The staff proudly draped the chairs with the capes, hung the smocks in the bathroom and folded the color capes on each color tray.

“As I proudly draped my first guest with this glorious representation of years of hard work, I couldn’t wait for it to settle on her body so she could see we weren’t some fly-by-night operation,” Nunes says. “I adjusted the cape so the logo sat perfectly on her chest, and I gestured in a discreet way. In hindsight I probably looked like Vanna White as she unveils the first six letters in the final round of Wheel of Fortune.”

The guest glanced at her image in the mirror, and said, “Well, this certainly isn’t the way to win over your first guest, Mr. Nunes. I already know that I’m old,—I don’t need you to point it out to me.”

For the first time, Nunes studied the cape in the mirror and read it the way his guest saw it. In reverse, his stylized blo logo read old! “Well, this was the first of many colossal mistake I’ve made as a salon owner, and one I immediately needed to remedy,” Nunes says.

His mistake was painful at the time, but like many successful marketers, Nunes has been searching for a way to use it ever since. When it came time to celebrating his 10th anniversary this year, he cleverly had a logo designed with the logo in reverse so it read, ‘Ten years old,’ in person, then ‘Ten years blo’ in the mirror. (Click here to see the winning STAMP idea.)

Like medicine, maybe the number one tenet in marketing should be, “First, do no harm.” But our STAMP (Salon Today’s Annual Marketing Program) judges love how Nunes turned the lemon life threw at him into lemonade this year.

Have you ever experienced a marketing bomb? If so, what lesson did it teach you, and how did you resolve it? We’d love for you to share it by emailing me at  [email protected].

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