“A brand is not what YOU say it is. It’s what THEY say it is”.
Marty Neumeier sums up brand perfectly, debunking the myth that we create our brand and control it – we simply don’t. However, we can steer perceptions if we really look closely at some of the elements we do have control over when it comes to our brand.
Your brand is much more than a name or a logo and not in an airy and fluffy ‘marketing’ kind of way either. It’s a very complex set of elements that create a snapshot or an impression to others of what our business is all about. Brand is a combination of the naming of our business, choosing brand colours, the font we use, the logo design and icons. We also need to consider the way we communicate with the public in writing and face to face, the way we design and decorate our place of work, the way we do business, the topics we talk about openly, customer service and many, many more elements – and that’s just the side of branding that we have some degree of control over.
The rest is actually built by people’s embedded perceptions. For example, if we see a word that’s written in a serif font (letters with little tails on the ends, as in Times New Roman on your computer) then we take the word more seriously, more upmarket, classier, and generally more formal, because we are used to seeing that kind of font on formal documents like legal letters, and newspaper articles from years ago. Another good example of the 21st century is Apple Inc. If you look at their very simple and clean logo – it’s a sans serif font (so very smooth!) and the name is just ‘apple’ with often a silhouette of a very clean and crisp apple icon. This all triggers our minds to relate to ‘modern’ and ‘straightforward’ – which is at the core (no pun intended!) of Apple’s brand: they make easy to use and very modern consumer electronics.
It would be a book’s worth of writing to go into the ins and outs of creating a brand, but we can make a good start if we take into account some straightforward concepts:
- Consistency – make everything look the same or similar
- Simplicity – make it easy for your customers to recognise you and what you do
- Living it – do what your brand says you do.
This is the key one for me as way too many businesses allow themselves to go ahead with no single, easily recognisable logo. By a ‘single’ logo I don’t mean that there can’t be slight variations but the logo should look basically the same and hold the same colour(s) wherever it is used. This creates the first part of controlling your brand image and how people see and recognise your business and what you do. If the logo and colours are consistent, then after someone’s seen your logo once or twice, they subconsciously will ‘look’ for this logo, and know and understand that this is you. Whereas if your business cards are blue and your shopfront is red it causes immediate confusion, as in the back of your customer’s mind they’re looking for your name on a blue rather than a red sign.
You should make sure that the logo appears clearly outside your place of business, on your appointment or business cards and on advertisements, leaflets or treatment menus (ideally with the logo front and top). Even though it’s not a conscious need, your customers will be looking for consistent presentation such as I am suggesting.
Make it easy for your customer to recognise what you do from your logo and all your materials. For example, you may have thought that the best name for you as a Nail Technician is “Sparkle Tip”, so you add “Sparkle Tip” as a name to everything including your signage outside; then the next day someone walks past who wants a Manicure but walks past your Salon not knowing what Sparkle Tip is. If, however, the name was “Sparkle Beauty” or “Sparkle Tip: Nail Technician” or even “Sparkle Tip: Nails & Beauty” the person walking past would become a customer. The extra layer of simplicity and clarity could lead to considerably more custom.
Simplicity can also run through your materials and your attitude to your customers. Making things easy for them goes a very long way in helping them decide if they want to go to you and, more importantly, return to you after their first visit. Although this wont necessarily be a very prominent brand feature, it all builds up the brand image for your customers, their friends and family. You should make greeting them pleasant, rebooking needs to be easy, finding information about you straightforward, and have all the bases covered from your Facebook page, website and Google information. Update it all!
If your logo, name, social media, website and company information all points to a relaxing and pleasurable experience, then live it and make sure every day that you and your staff are ready to help, be pleasant and provide an enjoyable experience. It’s easy to say this but some days this can be the hardest part. The flip side is that its also the most important of all because, as humans, we remember stories and experiences more than anything else (other than possibly music) because we build pictures of everything through perception. Remember, one bad day for you could be one less customer tomorrow. It’s the same for a logo that conveys class and sophistication. It’s no good building that brand and the materials around it that point to this kind of impression when you’re going to be working off your parents’ dining table (which isn’t a problem in itself and is a great way to start) but bear it in mind when building your other brand elements. Ask yourself: what am I saying about what I provide? what am I about?
For current Nail Techs who are already running businesses, the take away from this would be to ask yourself:
- How consistent is my brand?
- Do I make it easy for my customers?
- How much do I and my staff live the brand every day?
For new starters who are venturing on their own for the first time, brainstorm what you’re all about: think about your personality by asking others what your best quality is, and consider the kind of first impression that will attract the customers you want. Start there and build your brand around those concepts, bearing in mind consistency, simplicity and living the it!