Using signage to brand your salon is a creative and powerful way to grow your business.
From banners to flyers to stand alone displays, what you tack on your walls plays a big role in the promotion of your salon. Signage not only relays important information about a wide variety of topics—specials, events, retail promotions and salon news—to your clients and staff, but it also conveys the image of your business. Taking some extra time to ensure you’re sending the right message can increase business, productivity, client retention and morale. If you’ve been thinking that your promotional materials need an upgrade but weren’t sure how to start, here’s the “sign” you’ve been waiting for!
Speaking Your Brand
Signage is the perfect way to focus the image of your business and turn it into a brand. A successful business creates a marketing identity, a solid brand that neatly ties all elements of the business together. A strong image is more relatable to clients, because they find comfort in knowing what to expect each time they visit. Therefore, the signage you display in the salon should reflect the values and vision of your brand and speak to your clients in a language that they understand.
Polish Bar in Brooklyn is a prime example of using signage to brand and promote your salon. Owner Tricialee Riley says she designed her signage to reflect the fact that the salon’s menu offers services for men, women and children. Riley decorated her store using pink (a feminine color) and brown (a masculine color) and added fuchsia accents and polka dots to represent the fun, childlike element of her business.
“All of the signs posted in and around the store speak to the brand and the concept, while being colorful and consistent with the store designs and overall brand identity,” Riley says. “We are not a franchise or a chain, but many people assume we are because of the consistency in everything that we present. I learned early on the importance of building a brand and developing a cult-like following of our company.”
Polish Bar of Brooklyn
Covering the Basics
The great thing about signage is that it’s versatile—it can be anything, say anything and promote anything you want. Your creative ideas are the only limit. But before you head to the printer with your banner ideas, you should start with some basic requirements. The first is the most important: While signs can possess a look that is creative, beautiful, edgy, hilarious or retro, they must have proper grammar and spelling. Errors will occur in the development of any idea, of course, but the use of spell check and asking at least one or two people to proofread it before you print signage can save you the headaches that go along with making corrections, not to mention the extra money you would spend on fixing mistakes.
Although correct grammar and spelling are important, sign maintenance is also vital. Just as you wouldn’t walk around in stained and tattered clothing, your salon’s appearance shouldn’t be allowed to fall into disrepair. Posters with ripped edges or stained surfaces, as well as notices that are encased in dusty frames with dirty glass, have no place in your salon. They reflect a lack of attention to detail, and a business that provides services based on detailed work can’t afford to project that image. Your signs and posters should look shiny, fresh, clean and current.
Along those same lines, outdated signage can be easily overlooked if you’re not attentive; when you get used to looking at something every day, it can fade into the woodwork. This can be a problem if your walls display old operating hours, expired specials or ads for retail products that you don’t sell anymore—not to mention signage that is so old, it looks like it’s been there for years.
Searching for a Sign
The variety of signage options available today is huge; no matter what amount you earmarked for your marketing budget, you can find something that will work for you. One of the least expensive avenues to explore when it comes to signage is generating your own with a computer. Most computer programs are very user-friendly, woffering click-and-drag options for text and graphic elements or even pre-made templates that can be customized to fit your needs. Costing mere pennies per copy, this is also the most flexible method for posting information in the salon. Frequent changes or corrections aren’t a problem, and the production is as fast as you can dream up ideas. Plus, you can save files on your hard drive for future reference or alterations.
If you want to design something on a grander scale, Anna Elliott, nail tech and studio owner at Nail Perfection in Greenwood, Indiana, suggests that you go online to create a poster or pulled canvas. “There are tons of websites out there where you just upload your high-quality photo and have it made,” notes Elliott. Sites like VistaPrint.com, KodakGallery.com and FedEx Office online all have the ability to print materials from a photo or file you upload. Or if you’re just looking for decorative wall art, you can easily find ready-to-hang signs and posters online. Check out websites like Art.com and AllPosters.com.
Do-it-yourself options are easy and inexpensive, but you may want to hire a professional for bigger jobs; a graphic designer or marketing specialist can do the entire job from start to finish. Margaret Miner, owner of Ten20 Salon in Boulder, Colorado, uses a designer to help her with the artwork, but not the text. “I feel like the message needs to come from me, because it’s my salon. I want my audience to be in on the joke,” Miner says, emphasizing that the text should be short and to the point. “You’ve only got their attention for a couple of seconds. The fewer words you can use, the better. Otherwise the message gets lost.”
Sometimes nontraditional methods can work perfectly in your salon environment. Miner installed two chalkboards on the wall next to the television in Ten20 Salon, and the colorful, playful look fits in flawlessly with the salon’s spunky surroundings. She says chalkboards are inexpensive and can be a wonderful go-to place for your clients each and every time they visit to get the latest information on salon happenings. “We change out the messages on those,” Miner says. “Sometimes it’s ‘Summer’s passing fast…book your parties now!’ and sometimes it’s ‘Are you a brow wax…virgin?’”
One of the great things about the salon environment is that you have a captive audience for long stretches of time. People naturally inspect their surroundings, and giving them something to read is a good marketing practice. Advertisements for current specials or posters about operating hours are some of the more common topics on salon signage, but these are only the beginning.
Miner plays up her salon’s edgy but playful reputation in all of her marketing materials. Ten20’s main slogan—”Get Nailed”—is used liberally. But another slogan—”Get Plucked”—had too much potential for controversy when Miner first came up with it. “We had to establish that we are a fun place, a place all about girls and respectful to women, so we waited three years before using ‘Get Plucked,’” Miner says.
A salon slogan is just one of the unique ideas that signage conveys, others include various reminders on expected behavior in the salon (for children and adults!), running the gamut from cell phone usage to hand washing to tipping.
Bonnie Brady, former owner of Nail Classics in Overland Park, Kansas, used humor to communicate the expectation that her clients pay close attention to their children with a sign that read, “Unsupervised children will be given a free puppy and an espresso.” It was successful! “No one was ever offended, and everyone always giggled when they read it,” Brady laughs.
Sometimes you might find it necessary to be reactive instead of proactive. At Polish Bar, Riley faced a situation she needed to address: “We had many team members that were extremely discouraged with the tendency of many clients to leave little to no gratuity, regardless of the fact that they were pleased with their service experience.” Riley made the decision to create a sign that displayed tipping etiquette, which proved to be controversial, but effective.
When it comes down to it, how you cover your walls should play a very important role in your business plan. Taking time to plan ahead and reflect the aspects of your salon’s personality in your decorations and postings can tie a big red bow on your salon’s overall image. Considering how your message will read not only to your regular clients but also to a first-time walk-in is a vital step in the creation of an image that will be on display for all to see. Whatever the message, it’s important to remember the saying “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”
A sign that displayed tipping etiquette proved to be controversial, but effective.
– Melisa Wells
Images: Sarah Emick