Nikola Cline, founder and president of brand strategy and marketing agency Brandettes, discusses how to know when your business needs a refresh—and what to do about it. Hear what she has to say, below.
When you think of a brand refresh, where does your mind go? A logo change? New signage at your salon? Maybe a new website?
While all of these do embody what’s involved in a refresh, your salon’s brand is about so much more than just visuals. A lot of it comes down to your marketing strategy and your relationship with your clients. Branding is more about your unique position as a business and less about what your signage or website looks like (although they should all be cohesive).
It’s a good idea to revisit and assess if what you’re doing now is working because your business isn’t the same as it was in those early days—and your clients aren’t, either. Here’s how to know if it’s time for a business refresh.
 Look at your business with fresh eyes. It’s tough to see what needs to be updated when you’re working in your salon or studio day in, day out. You know your salon better than anyone else, so what makes sense to you may not make sense to another. The same efforts that got you here won’t get you where you need to go. Even in the last five years, a lot has changed in the professional beauty industry: Clients don’t interact with businesses in the same way, and they don’t search for services in the same way.
Look at your business as if you were completely new to it. Go through the customer journey. Find the gaps that need to be filled to fit into a modern market, making sure you are able to articulate, simply and quickly, what makes your salon unique.
 Take a deep dive behind the scenes. To know what to change, you have to take a look at what’s happening behind the scenes. Ensuring your profit meets your objectives is important but, beyond that, are you connecting with your clients? Does your current brand experience keep clients excited and coming back for more services?
And where is your time going? Are you working smarter or harder? You would be surprised at how easily time is wasted on scrolling social pages without a strategy. And, we all know when push comes to shove, time is money.
 How to refresh your salon like a pro. Looking at what needs to change from these two angles will give you an idea of what to do. Depending on what you find, you’ll want to consider refreshing your client experience, marketing strategy and business tactics.
- Create an outline of your goals and your ideal guest experience. You can’t accomplish a successful brand refresh without setting clear expectations. Get specific about what you want to accomplish, how you want your clients to feel as soon as they step into your salon and how to amplify that experience, so you earn reviews and testimonials—the best kind of advertising. Break these goals down into milestones or steps to help you stay focused. What strategies will you use to accomplish this refresh? How will you measure success? Of course, you can’t do it all, so pick the three areas that will yield the most results. Identify everything you need to accomplish this—marketing resources, time, team education, new systems, etc.
- Make it your mission to simplify as much as possible. Before your clients ever enter your salon, they will have some kind of interaction with you, whether that’s on the phone or online. Make it easy for new and returning guests to learn about your salon, services and specialties. The easier you can make things, the better.
- Pay attention to reviews. Reviews are one of your fastest, easiest ways to find out how clients feel about your business. If there are any less-than-great reviews, find out why. Take what the reviewers say seriously and look into the issue thoughtfully—replying helpfully to Google and Yelp reviews is essential.
- Rethink how you spend your marketing dollars. Not every dollar put toward marketing is a dollar well spent. Analyze your current channels of communication—Facebook, Instagram, online ads, signage—and determine if they’re truly making you money. Also, take a look at what you could be adding to your marketing strategy. Undoubtedly, that may require extra resources, like a contractor who can help refresh your website or an in-house team to run your social media accounts. Despite the cost, these efforts could make a huge difference in the number and quality of leads you bring in.
- Timing is everything. There’s only one rule about timing when it comes to a refresh: There’s no time like the present. Don’t wait until the new year to think about a fresh start and resist becoming overwhelmed. Small updates have the potential to reap big rewards. Pull back the curtain, assess your business and execute on that refresh now.
- When in doubt, remember the guest. Updating your website, creating a social media plan and replacing dated advertising materials are all great for a refresh. However, none are as important as the guest experience. The bottom line is to make the clients’ interactions with your salon as memorable and positive as possible to keep them coming back and to tell others about their experience. Word of mouth is the best way to advertise your business, and no industry understands that better than this one.