3 Steps for Building a Strong Brand Identity for Your Salon or Spa
By Elijah-Blue Vieau
I can’t stress this enough: having a focused brand identity for your salon or spa can be the difference between winning and losing. It is what keeps prospective customers interested long enough to not only book an appointment with you, but also to engage with your business and (if you play your cards right) become an advocate and repeat customer.
But here’s the challenge: not every salon or spa owner has a degree in branding fundamentals.
While getting your logo printed on some flyers isn’t rocket science, building an identity requires critical thought and significant competitor analysis. So how are you supposed to ramp up your branding and create a unique identity for your salon or spa when you’re worried about answering phones and ensuring your stylists show up on time?
In this article, I'll discuss some of the the pillars of building a solid brand identity (logo, font, color scheme, tone) and why it matters for salon and spa owners.
Step 1: Perfect your logo design and colors.
Your salon or spa logo is often the very first impression people will have of your business. Whether it’s on your shop window or your Instagram profile, your logo needs to communicate what your brand stands for (aka your promise), and be versatile enough to scale up and down as needed, depending on the medium.
Finding the right font.
The font you choose for your logo can say a lot about your salon or spa. While it may be tempting to choose a font that you haven’t seen anywhere else or a font that captures all 52 things that your beauty brand stands for, reinventing the wheel usually isn’t the best place to start.
- Serif fonts, for example, are a timeless classic and associated with things like tradition and legacy. It’s no surprise that it is the most used category of font. If you own a salon or spa which serves an older demographic, or your if it has been a neighborhood staple for decades, going with a serif font might work well in your favor.
Sans serif fonts (without serif) contain no tags or flags at the ends of the letters. Sans serif fonts are perceived as clean and contemporary, as well as a little more informal with a touch of innovation. Definitely the wise choice if you’re looking to market your salon or spa to a younger audience.
Handwritten fonts have become extremely popular within the beauty, fashion, and retail space and do a great job at conveying a brand that is more formal, elegant, and feminine. A word to the wise: when using handwritten typefaces, consider how they will look for smaller applications - as many cursive font styles don’t translate well when shrunken.
Find your color scheme and feeling.
The colors chosen for your logo should also be present in your salon or spa decor, on your website and social media profiles, as well as in printed marketing materials. As you may know, the right color combination can be very powerful, and spark all the right emotions and feelings for your customers: rejuvenation, beauty, relaxation, playfulness, ambition, and purity.
To stay with the “keep it simple” theme, try to use no more than three colors in your salon or spa logo design, with black or white as one of them. Some popular color combinations that would work well within your industry would be:
- Purple and pink: Together, these colors create a warm, playful, and ambitious palette. Pink brings up the energy a notch, while purple shows a sense of maturity.
Pink and blue: A nice soft pink with navy blue can accomplish a sense of playfulness without taking away from the trust factor.
Black and red: This combo is daring and inviting all at the same time. The power that comes from red over a black background can be intense, especially if that’s what you’re going for.
Step 2: Establish your brand voice and tone.
Many salons and spas miss the mark here. The truth is, it’s quite easy to have inconsistent tone and voice across your website, ads, emails, and social media channels; especially if you have multiple people responsible for this.
Juliana Kenny from Mojo Marketing stresses the importance of establishing a tone and voice for your brand:
Needless to say, creating a foundation for this is one of the first steps to building a meaningful company culture, one that connects with prospective talent and customers alike. And company culture is a huge component of your salon or spa identity–no matter how big or small your business may be.
So how do you define the tone and voice of your salon brand and, more importantly, what exactly is the difference between the two?
What is your brand voice?
Brand voice is the one-of-a-kind expression that your salon communicates through words. It is comprised of all the unique (and specific) ways your brand communicates through any and all content you publish.
Within your brand voice is the following elements to define:
- Personality: Sophisticated, witty, quirky?
Pace: Short bursts, rhythmic, up tempo?
Vocabulary: Simple, jargon-filled, poetic?
To determine your salon’s voice, Juliana suggests creating buyer personas as a great place to start, followed by trying to describe your brand voice in three words. “If your brand was a person, how would you describe its personality to someone?” And in addition to that, if you’re competitor was a person, how would you describe them?
See this blog on the Content Marketing Institute’s website for a detailed walkthrough of this exercise.
What is your brand tone?
Your tone is the attitude behind the voice, and how your voice is used depending on the scenario. The phrase “tone of voice” comes into play here. Brand tone is not what you say, but rather how you say it.
According to Nielsen Norman Group, a world leader in research-based user experience, there are four dimensions which comprise your tone of voice:
- Funny or serious: Are you attempting to be funny? Or are you approaching the message in a more direct and serious way?
Formal or casual: Is your website content, blogs, and social media style formal or casual? Perhaps a little of both?
Respectful or irreverent: Is the subject approached respectfully? Or are you aiming to set yourself apart and be controversial (without offending, of course)?
Enthusiastic or matter-of-fact: Are you enthusiastic about the subject? Or is it more matter-of-fact, some might say dry?
Word to the wise: It’s not so much about fitting yourself into one specific tone of voice bucket, because your brand may naturally communicate using more than one of those dimensions. What is important, is going through the motions to define your voice and tone. Once defined, it becomes a living, breathing part of your business - and uniquely yours.
Step 3: Be consistent with your imagery.
Imagery is a huge part of the salon or spa experience. Let’s face it, when a new customer is considering visiting your business for their next cut or beauty treatment, they will judge you almost exclusively on two things: your online reviews and the images of actual customers.
One of the easiest and most impactful ways of setting your salon apart from the rest is by defining your imagery style. Taking into consideration your logo, colors, voice, and tone - what types of images should your brand be using on and off the web? And how do they fit into your brand identity?
Digging deeper into defining an image style.
The following additional questions can really help drill down a very specific image style for your salon brand:
- How are your photos lit? Does natural lighting suit your brand, or perhaps you need additional lighting to really make things shine.
What is the orientation of the subject? Are they looking straight at the camera, to the side, or will most images be shot from the back?
Close-ups, soft focus, or super detailed? Perhaps your brand would be better represented showing people doing things, instead of engaging the camera. Who knows.
Any custom illustrations? Maybe your brand is a little more whimsical and fun. Illustrations could be a great way to capture this element of your identity.
Aside from photography, the other part of your imagery has to do with graphics. Typically these are used on your social media channels, on your website in blog posts, or in printed marketing materials. While it may be tempting to go DIY and use templates or stock photos or videos, don’t. You are in the business of making people look (and feel) their best, and therefore having a consistent image style will make their decision that much simpler.
Making the case for visual investment.
I’m sure all of this sounds great in theory, but in reality you will likely require an investment to ensure that your brand’s image style is truly consistent and one-of-a-kind. While an argument can be made that most smartphone’s have adequate photo and video capture abilities, things like lighting and lenses can be the difference between good and great visual assets.
If you’re serious about producing incredible imagery for your brand, consider the following as worthwhile investments:
- Work with a photographer (exclusively): Creating a relationship with a local beauty photographer can prove to be mutually beneficial. Perhaps they visit your salon once a month for a couple hours to take some money shots for your website and social media. Have them shoot any events you attend or host on location. You can refer wedding clients to them, and vice versa. Lots of potential here.
Invest in good gear: If you’d rather keep photography in-house, be sure to invest in a lighting kit and a decent DSLR camera. And here’s the kicker: allocate this responsibility to a specific member of your team. Having more than one person being responsible for photos and videos can result in a lack of consistency. Things like this are also tax deductible, which is always a good thing.
- Creating a video intro/outro: If video marketing is on your agenda, it’s definitely worth hiring someone to create a reusable video intro or outro (aka opener and logo sting) that all of the videos you upload will start and end with. You will see this technique used by top YouTubers for a reason: having these branded video elements keeps the experience consistent (there’s that word again) across all mediums.