What a trip to the hairdressers can teach you about branding

This week I went to the hairdressers. I don’t go often – in fact, I realised that I’d not been since before Christmas last year! Shocking. Combination of a really good cut (thanks Rob!) and not being organised enough to book it.

Anyway, while I was there I was well looked after, I was given a cup of tea and a magazine, I had my hair washed, cut, styled and dried and I left feeling pretty good about myself.

This got me thinking about branding and how well this particular salon had encapsulated their brand in all that they do. They’ve really got it in terms of seeing a brand as more than your logo.

 

I really like how Seth Godin defines it:

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.

I also like how Ze Frank puts it:

A brand is an emotional aftertaste that’s conjured up by, but not necessarily dependent on, a series of experiences.

 

This is SO true when you’re at the hairdressers! The sparkly chandelier, the flowers, the smells (it’s an Aveda salon, even the hairspray smells lovely!) the tea, the music, the conversation… it all adds up to a series or experiences, memories, stories, relationships and expectations that mean that by the time you leave you’re invested in the brand and you’re looking forward to your next visit.

So, how can you get these things into your business and strengthen your brand?

Of course I’m going to say that the visual elements are key, the logo, the print work, the website…. all of those things are great and REALLY important to conveying what your brand is about, but there’s more to making a successful brand.

Think about the senses:

Sight – think about how to carry your branding through into the other things that people can see. The lighting, the colour of the walls, the style of furniture, the decor – and how your products or space is laid out to make the best use of the space available and convey your brand values. For example, in the hairdressers, they aren’t sterile, it’s a comfy place to be, there’s lots of wood and earthy tones which goes with what they offer. It feels luxurious because of the chandelier and the flowers. The products are displayed in different places in different ways so that they are shown at their best. How does your business make your customers feel? How could you improve this? This is also important for packaging, for materials related to a course or conference, to communication material, to how you use your printed materials, your website and your social media.

Smell – in the hairdressers the products have a smell, so in a way it’s easy for them to cover that one! As it would be in a bakers or a florists, but if you’re in an office or a shop which doesn’t sell smelly items, what would you like it to smell of? Furniture polish or a scented candle or a particular air freshener? Sniff right now and work out what you can smell. Is it what you would like your clients to smell? There are loads of things that you can do to change the way a room smells and make sure that the smell is appropriate for your business and meets your brand values. What about things like the items that you send or give out?

Taste – in the hairdressers I was offered a cup of tea. This is nearly always a win for me! For some businesses covering taste is easier than others. Food related businesses have this easy! For others, mine included, this is more challenging. There are various gifts that you can give out to clients such as branded chocolate. Maybe if you run a workshop you might carefully select the cakes you take along with you, or the lunch menu. You might have a bowl of mints next to the till. This one can be quite tricky and if you have an opportunity within your business to make a decision on taste, then I’d spend some time thinking it through.

Of course, taste doesn’t have to actually mean eating something. Taste can be the impression that your business leaves someone with, ie, sweet or savoury? Bitter or salty? What impression do you want to leave people with? Of course, too much of one might not be all that good, but if you think that’s what’s happening, then you can re-evaluate.

Sound – think about what you can hear. Right now, go on. I can hear my keyboard clacking while I type, the clock ticking and the hummm sound that tells me that the computer and the lamp are both switched on. Sometimes I can hear a car go past. It’s quite quiet here. Quite often I have music on, just not right now. If your business is a place where people go to, then you need to make sure that they aren’t distracted by unwanted noises. How can you use sound to create a space which encompasses your brand values? You could play music which is relevant or you could have a water feature. Is there a sound which you need to sort out? Maybe it’s too distracting, or it’s not helping to create the calm environment you’re seeking to achieve? In the hairdressers they play relaxing music, which is lovely, and of course there are hair driers and people chatting too.

This is also about how you speak to people. The type of language you use and how friendly you are. Does everyone in your business have a good manner with customers?

Touch – this can be shown in your printed materials, the choice of paper and the finish that’s used can help you to be memorable, what about when people actually use your product or service, visit your shop or meet you in person? The packaging when you post something.

I often talk about touch points, which is any point where people interact with your business. How do people feel at these touch points? For example, when they view your website, when they meet you or chat on the phone, when they order their product, when you’ve delivered a service?

If you have your brand values and personality in place then working out how to make at least some of these things work within your business should be relatively straightforward.

Maybe go and get your haircut and see if inspiration strikes!

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