Your indoor tanning business isn’t one size fits all; it’s not a factory. However, unless your customers know why you’re different, they probably think they can put their money down on the counter and get the same tanning experience anywhere. That is why understanding and cultivating your unique corporate brand is important.
Your brand is a lens that filters how, when, where, why and to whom you market; your brand is the guide for how you create an immersive experience for your clients in everything from color scheme to customer service. Take some time to incorporate these fundamental branding principles in your business to show your customers that you are truly one of a kind.
The most obvious component to a cohesive brand is in the visual details. In today’s visually driven society, businesses need to move beyond the utilitarian to get their message across. When you tape a hand written note or a word document to the counter, or when you leave chipped paint on the walls, these visuals subliminally erode at the trust and confidence patrons have in your business.
Create a memorable, easy-to-read, high-quality logo that represents your business. Are you fun and affordable? Chic and upscale? Modern and minimalist? Every style of indoor tanning business lends to a different visual style that should be represented in a logo. Your core audience should be able to look at it and think, “This is my kind of place.” And if you’ve had your logo for more than five years, it may be time to consult with a graphic designer who can help you update the concept. Even the biggest brands in the country have changed their logos over time, and it’s a great reminder to stay relevant.
However, your logo shouldn’t be stamped on just anything. The paint on your walls, the materials you use for your business cards and handouts, and the design of your website should all be inspired by the same color scheme. Set a mode with your palette and make sure it tells the same story as your logo. This attention to color should extend to all of your communications on every platform. Color cohesion helps create a connection between all of your efforts and builds on brand recognition.
Visual branding extends beyond graphics and color to the overall look of your communications. Set guidelines for what fonts should be used and create templates for how to lay out a letter, a social media post, or an email. When the public learns to identify your communications through a consistent visual presentation, familiarity turns into trust.
Creating a brand is more than an image. To immerse your clients in the unique culture of your business, you also need substance to back up the lovely visual interest with the right approach to content. To do this, you must have a firm grasp of your ideal client and your corporate values.
A salon that is geared towards economical students will take a different approach than one that caters to urban professionals. Once you know your target audience, it’s time to think about how they spend their time and money, and how they communicate. Will your clients feel more comfortable talking to someone who feels like a friend and talks about what they like, or are they more apt to respond to an authoritative expert who acts like a consultant? Whichever approach is right for your business, consider how that should impact the salon’s sales script, emails, social media presence, and promotions. Whoever is responsible for creating these experiences should be able to do it in the right voice for the target audience.
If you put someone else in charge of this, a style guide can go a long way toward helping the company achieve a consistent voice throughout its communications. Defining a voice is like having a color scheme for your content: It should have a cohesion that creates familiarity with the speaker and the company.
Although marketing itself – the tactics you use to create awareness and call your customers to action – would seem to be a completely different topic, there are components of where and how you market that are a reflection of your brand.
When you use media to market your business, you are essentially renting space: You don’t own Facebook, the newspaper, a billboard, or a radio station. Just as you would rent a location for your salon or an apartment, you want the location to say something about you. Just as important as what you say is where and how you say it.
Each platform is going to help you reach certain kinds of people, and it will work best for certain types of content. If you want to show your customers that you are technology-driven, you’re probably not going to send them a letter in the mail. If you want to show young adults that you are a fun, trendy place, you might make short, entertaining videos on Vimeo. Knowing your key differentiators and target audience can help you pick media that contribute to the authenticity of your brand message. When you say the right thing, the right way and in the right place, you have a much better chance of clearly conveying what your company is about.
It’s also common for salons to cross promote with other businesses, which can have a major impact on the perception of your brand. If you align yourself with a company or organization that has a bad reputation or has opposing values, you’ll be swimming upstream to get any benefit from that pairing. So don’t just show up in any bar or at any charity event – do the research to ensure that you are partnering with people who align with the image you are working so hard to create.
The most important branding is also one of the most difficult for some people to nail down. Defining your brand requires enough soul searching to know what you want to promise your customers. You can’t be everything to everyone, and you can’t wait around for others to define you, so put in the effort to make a unique statement with the values, mission and characteristics of your brand.
If you are feeling a little stumped about how to arrive at these items, asking yourself and your team the following questions is a good place to start:
What makes our company stand apart?
What do we plan to achieve?
How do we plan to get there?
What drives the company forward?
How do we satisfy a unique need?
What kind of atmosphere do we want to provide?
How do we want people to feel about our services, our products and us?
Are you an upscale salon that values consultative customer service? Are you an affordable salon that puts convenience first with hassle-free policies? Are you the trendy, tech-driven salon that values innovation? Or, are you a trustworthy family business that strives to make everyone feel comfortable?
These are all very different businesses. When you think about each one, it’s easy to see how their brand might affect everything we have discussed in these two articles: logo, color scheme, voice, media channels, collaborations, target audience and content format. Craft your brand identity with care, and you’ll see that it can have an impact on everything you do.