Originally posted Nov. 25th 2014. Updated with new information.
Your brand reflects your work and your style, and as a stylist or cosmetologist, you need to start building and shaping your brand as soon as you graduate beauty school.
As a new graduate, you may start working in a salon where you can build your experience and really start to understand who you are as a cosmetologist. This salon will likely have its own brand, and you will have to work within it for a while, but you can learn a lot from that experience.
Soon, you’ll have an opportunity to start building your own personal brand, too. This will be critical throughout your career, helping you find and keep new clients and consistently increase your business.
Building your brand is especially important if you immediately jump into owning your own shop. You won’t have an established brand to rely on, so you’ll need to make sure yours is solid and stands out in a crowded market.
So let’s take a look at the different elements that make up your personal brand and how you can use them to be more successful after beauty school.
First, Define Your Brand
Lots of people cut hair, but not everyone does [blank] as well as you do [blank]. You can be THE person in the city who is known for doing [blank].
Okay, that was a strange way to say that, but the point remains valid. Before you can build your brand, you have to define what it is that makes you different from everyone else.
This isn’t as hard as you may think. It’s simply a matter of defining the things that you really love doing, or the things you excel at, or the type of services you most often perform. If you focus on the things that you know, you can deliver amazing results. This, in turn, will feed into a stronger brand.
The Elements of Your Brand
Your brand – or your “image” – needs to be consistent across all your marketing efforts and anything about your business that your customers may interact with.
That means if your brand is as a casual, friendly, family establishment, then the look of the salon, the way your staff interacts with clients, and your pricing has to reflect that “personality” or image.
Don’t try to fake your brand. Let your real personality shine through here and build your brand around what you learned in barber school, your cosmetology classes, or even your makeup artist coursework.
Will you present your business as casual and fun, upscale and elegant, or fast and convenient? Whatever it is, you need to make sure these elements are expressed in every part of your brand. More specifically, it needs to come across in your portfolio, on your website, your social media, your business cards, and how you interact with your clients. Let’s take a closer look at these elements.
Create a Portfolio
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then your portfolio should be an extensive discourse on why your clients should choose you over any other stylist.
Potential clients are looking for examples of your work so they can make an informed decision. You can show off your skills, your personality, and your history of amazing results by taking lots of pictures and organizing them in a portfolio.
This portfolio should include examples of all the styles, cuts, colors, perms, and everything in between that you can confidently offer your clients. It is one thing to post each new photo to your social media accounts (which we’ll discuss in a minute), but there needs to be a definite archive of your best work where anyone can find it at any time.
Build a Branded Website
No business or brand is complete without a modern, fresh, and updated website.
Word of mouth used to be the most reliable way to gain new customers, and it still is. It’s just that word of mouth has now gone digital.
Potential customers want to know more about your business and –more importantly – you. While a lot of your personality will come out in your social media (see below), your website is like your online home from which you can base your operations.
Your branding has to be clear on your website, and we’re talking about more than just your logo and color choices.
Once you’ve defined your brand (see above), those elements need to be highlighted across the website.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by hosting your portfolio on the site. This makes it easy for clients to explore and share with others.
You can even create a blog and deliver content to engage with your clients even more and list more of your skills or talk about changing styles and trends.
Use Social Media
Social media is used in many businesses, but in the beauty industry it has become extremely important.
The popular social platforms are often the first place that people go when they are looking for a new stylist. It’s also where your customers will go to discuss their experiences and share pictures of their beautiful results.
A lot of your brand – and a huge part of your reputation – is going to be made on social media.
Have some great before and after shots? Post those. Have some tips for taking care of a new style or color? Share those, too. Have a great story about why you got into this business in the first place, that also makes great social media content. Running any specials over the weekend? Make sure everyone knows about it.
You can really let your personality shine here while keeping your customers in the know about your business.
One word of warning, though. You must always remain professional and take the high road. The simple nature of social media means that negative things are going to be said. You need to interact with your clients without ever getting dragged into arguments and accusations.
Remember, even if someone says something negative, you can build an even stronger reputation when others see how you work to resolve any issues.
Create Business Cards
Whether you are working from your home or at a salon, a business card is going to be an effective marketing asset. The online social media aspect of your business is important for building your brand, but don’t forget the offline as well.
Your cards should feature your name, your salon name, your phone and email, and your website address. It should have your logo and use fonts that fit with your overall image.
Carry these cards with you at all times and keep a stack at your salon. Offer a business card or two to your clients as they leave, it’s an easy way for them to share with their friends the great experience they’ve had.
Always Continue Learning
Just because you’ve graduated beauty school, that doesn’t mean you should ever stop learning.
You need to keep up to date on the latest styles through taking additional courses or doing research on the newest methods. Styles are constantly evolving, make sure you are up to date with the latest trends in fashion to deliver any style your client is looking for.
This kind of ongoing education will support your brand because you will become the cosmetologist who always knows the latest trends and techniques. You want become “that one salon that used to be cool.”
Be Friendly and Engaging
Word of mouth spreads faster than ever thanks to the internet. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure your good customer service, friendliness, and a welcoming and inviting environments are part of your brand.
Whatever else your specialties may be, no one is going to come back to a salon where they feel awkward and uncomfortable. Everyone needs to feel like they want to spend more time at your establishment.
If you want to know more about how to build a beauty brand, then it’s time to get enrolled in one of our classes. We offer an extensive range of classes, including coursework in building your clientele after you graduate. Contact us today, or apply for a scholarship, to get started.