Understanding the Power of Branding with Austen Thomson
Hair salon owner Austen Thomson discusses how a good brand should nurture its customers and question what makes them loyal on a regular basis.
Branding is a word that is used quite freely but what does it mean? When we opened Austen Thomson Hair in Edinburgh we really paid attention to how the salon was going to be branded with regards to logo, signage, stationary and so on, but a brand is far more than these elements and over the years we have spent time with the team exploring what a brand is.
I believe that empowering a team to believe in the brand is a crucial element of a successful salon but this can often be overlooked. Around eight months ago, as part of our personal development sessions, I opened up the conversation by reading out the statement that comes in the pocket of the jeans that I wear. It is a small piece of card that states what the company is all about and how they have hand-produced every pair of jeans with craftsmanship and passion. It is, however, what the wearer does with them that makes them individual and the harder they wear them the better they become. In essence, the brand is passing the responsibility for the brand over to the wearer. I read it every time I get a new pair of denims. I explained that I belonged to the Nudie Jeans tribe because I believe what they believe.
This opened up a discussion with my team about the brands they love and trust – Apple, Adidas and Mac to name a few. Following on from this I asked: “what would it take for a brand to let them down?” and “how would they feel if they did?” The penny dropped and the vision of how our own brand makes people feel began to be appreciated.
We discussed what sort of things we did well for our clients and how we could potentially let them down. Brands become like good friends and through social media people engage with their favourite brands in a new way. Today brands have personalities, opinions and a voice. There is a lot of talk about people being loyal to a brand, however I fully believe it is a two-way relationship and it is as much the brand’s responsibility to be loyal to the client as it is the client to be loyal to the brand.
Each month, we still choose a brand that we believe in and analyse what they do that makes us loyal. It keeps us focused on the strength of our own brand values while pushing us to think of new ways to keep our clients loyal.