Nowadays the definition of salon professional entails so much more than being a wiz with cut, color and styling. In order to be successful, hairdressers also need to be accountants, retailers, and their own PR consultants, perhaps starting with the developing of a brand for their business.
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 J Michael’s salon owner, Jill Higginbotham, 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 counter-intuitive; 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:
1. Who is the ideal salon guest?
2. What services does the salon do best?
3. How old is the ideal salon guest?
4. What profession do most guests embrace?
5. What examples of brands/logos are appealing to you, and why?
The answers to these same questions will help you lay the foundation for the strategic brand development of your salon.
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 companyby means of advertising and distinctive design”. Contrary to what many might think, investing in expensive commercials is not necessary, as there are other creative ways to reach your target audience.
For example, 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 and fully-attainable 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. You can make a difference by knowing who you are and developing a brand that defines who you intend to become as a salon professional.
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.