By Paul Carbis

Branding – It’s more than just a name, it’s about a belief.  The most successful branding you can ever do is let people know what you stand for.

I was recently lucky enough to tour New Zealand where I got to meet and train salon owners throughout the North Island. During one of my training sessions I was asked about branding. How do we develop a brand and then market that brand once it is established?


Image courtesy of Beckham
Fragrances

My reply was to ask every salon owner present to quickly tell me what makes their salon different. What was their belief statement about their business? Not one owner could quickly state their point of difference. Some stated that they were the best, others mumbled that they were results-orientated, but no-one could clearly define what it was that made their salon special and have it roll off the tip of their tongue as a practised statement of belief.

My point was, that if they couldn’t clearly, succinctly and categorically pronounce what their salon stood for, then how could they even begin to brand themselves. If you don’t have a very definite idea of what you stand for then how can you project that image or brand out to the public? In my own salon we have two very definite belief statements that permeate everything we do. They brand us.

“We are your local experts in skin” and “We are committed to exceeding your expectations each and every time you visit us.”

These statements underline exactly what it is that defines my salon and clearly show what makes us different to the many other salons in our local area. We are experts and service is of utmost importance.

Regardless of what it is you are trying to brand your salon as; it could be quality, prestige, all natural, experience, price point, luxury, eco friendly, results or relaxation. Whatever it is that sets you apart from your competition, you need to believe in it and be able to shout it from the roof tops.

Your brand is not the products you sell. It is a deep-held belief in why your salon is the way it is. This belief has to be interwoven into everything about your salon so that it reflects exactly what it is your salon stands for.

It tempers who you employ, what training is undertaken, product selection, the treatments you offer, equipment available, the style, layout and colours of your salon, your advertising, image, signage, phone spiel, website and even your name. I believe your business name should reflect something of the essence of your business. Are you a beauty salon, a clinic, a spa, a resort or a medispa?

My own salon incorporates our two belief statements by:

  • Having them written on letterheads, price menus and newsletters
  • Our pricelist has no facials listed on it so our clients must undertake a full skin analysis in order to have a facial prescribed to meet their individual needs. This shows off the expertise of my staff
  • Every staff meeting has a permanent agenda item of how to improve our customer service
  • We only stock salon exclusive brands that cannot be purchased over the internet
  • My staff attend regular external training or in-house training every fortnight
  • Focus groups of clients meet quarterly to suggest improvements in our service
  • Consultation times are regarded as an important element to our service and a private consultation area is available with diagnostic skin analysis equipment
  • Staff name badges include titles such as senior aesthetician and skin consultant.
  • Staff qualifications and post graduate training certificates are proudly displayed.

But the real strength in this kind of branding is when your staff project this image, message or belief to your customers. When they walk, talk and act out whatever the belief statement of your business is. In my case this is when they walk, talk and act like experts in skin. Do your staff project the image you want your clients to see? What do they look like, how do they speak, what do they speak about, how do they conduct themselves and do they believe the branding as much as you do? In the end no matter how much brand advertising you undertake, if your staff can’t sell it then it was a waste of time and money. The only way your clients will see your differences and therefore have the ability to make a viable choice about where they go for their beauty services, is for your staff to show them the underlying belief of the salon.

It all gets exciting when your clients recognise and adopt your salon’s branding as their reason for choosing you. When they are able to pinpoint why they like coming to your salon and it matches the belief statements you have been projecting. This is when clients become not just loyal but advocates of your business. They start to tell others about you. Of course this is the best advertising on the planet because it comes with a personal recommendation.

We have clients who walk through the door asking:
“You are the people who will look at my skin with that special machine, aren’t you?”
“Is that man Paul here? We were told that he could look at my skin and tell me what I need to do? “
“My friend told me you guys really know what you are talking about!”

When your branding is all about being experts in skin, these statements are positive proof that your belief branding is working and attracting business.

Now I don’t care if you want to be the cheapest, the biggest, the best equipped, the most luxurious, stock the largest range, all natural or environmentally friendly. But for your business to be successful you need to qualify exactly what it is you stand for then get your staff and clients to believe in it as much as you do. This is branding. We are not multi-national corporations that have millions to spend on developing a brand through massive advertising campaigns. So it is vital that everyone associated with your business knows exactly what you stand for and can state it. It gives the salon purpose, staff direction and customers a reason to return whilst telling all their friends.

So sit down and figure out exactly what it is that you want your salon known for. This must become your point of difference over opposition, the reason behind all your decisions and something you can shout for all to hear. Work hard at getting your staff and clients seeing the same vision you have and start building the most effective branding your business could experience – Your reason for establishing the salon in the first place, what you believe in.