When naming, or in certain cases renaming, a salon, there are key marketing aspects all owners should consider, as well as several no-no’s to avoid. We’ve spoken to three branding and marketing experts who discuss best practices for naming your salon.
Start at the Start
Marjorie Yarrow, owner of A Little Piece of Marketing, encourages owners to start by answering some very basic questions about the salon in order to develop a specific salon brand. These questions include: What are the services and/or products I’m offering? Who is my target consumer? What company image am I trying to convey? Once you have those questions answered, you can come up with some targeted brand ideas.
“Naming your business is much like building a load-bearing wall: If it is poorly constructed the entire building may come crumbling down,” Yarrow says. “Make sure you have chosen a name that strongly represents you and your business and that can stand the test of time. Solid framework and planning are key.”
Shannon Shapiro, the product manager of global marketing for cosmetics company Algenist, expands on this, saying that owners must convey the benefit of their salon. “It’s important that a salon name immediately tells the potential customer what she will get from visiting the salon or using a product,” she states. “In an incredibly competitive industry, conveying the benefit right off the bat leaves no doubt in a consumer’s mind.”
Owners must also establish credibility early on, says Shapiro: “When you are just starting out, it’s important to have a brand that establishes you as a credible authority in your business. Customers should feel like you are the expert and they can trust you.” If a new owner has years of experience as a professional in the nail world, he or she should make sure to emphasize that.
Stay Unique and Simple
When in doubt, Shapiro encourages salon owners to make up a brand new name. After years of trying to trademark new brand and franchise names, she has had to battle with legal departments over what can be trademarked. The best advice she was given, she explains, was that the most foolproof way to never be copied and to ensure brand identity is to just make up a name. An example is combining two words that have some personal or business connection.
Jenna Arak, writer and professional digital marketer, advocates for keeping the name short, obvious, and easy to spell. This is valuable for several reasons: first, people just naturally have short attention spans. They’re not going to pay attention to you long enough to listen to a name that’s more than a couple of words. Secondly, keeping your business name shorter and easy to spell will prove useful for your website URL and social media handles. Pick a name that’s as easy as possible for people to search for online.
Plus, as with all things business, the customer comes first. Arak says, “Of course, there’s marketing value in being clever, but I advocate for clear over clever any day. Think about what you want your business name to communicate to those customers, then communicate that. Your future customers shouldn’t wonder what it is that you do and what it is that you offer them. It should be clear from the get-go, so there are fewer barriers to literal entry as you work to get them through the door.”
Yarrow explains that having a memorable name that stands out in a crowd sparks the interest of the consumer to seek out more information about the business. Plus, it helps when customers are able to easily pull your name from memory. Getting lost in the crowd can inhibit business growth. Shapiro says the goal is to be new, different, and better. It’s important to look at the competition of course, but don’t copy them. You want to raise the bar.
Yarrow also says to be wary of names with negative connotations, or that are so obscure the audience doesn’t get it. The first impression a customer gets is the business name, so having one that can come off negatively or that goes over the heads of the target consumer will not entice them to seek out further information. That business is lost before someone even walks in your door.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try a Few Times
According to Arak, testing your choices might be wise. If you can, narrow your list of name options down to two or three and then take them for a test drive. Before you buy that URL or hang the shingle on your door, confirm that your choices aren’t trademarked, read the names aloud, then do a little consumer research — ask friends, family, and strangers alike what they think of your choices. Is it clear what you do? Does the name stand out from other nail salons? Would they visit yours based on the name alone?
Yarrow explains that in marketing, there is one golden rule: If you fail, try, try again. Don’t be afraid to change your business name if it isn’t working for you. A common mistake is being too set on a name and refusing to change something that might be hindering you. If this is the case, consider making a change for the better.