Category Archives: Branding

How To Brand My Haircare Business?

I am re-entering the world of haircare/styling as a result of being laid off for the fifth time in the last ten years. I will be renting booth space in a salon. The salon is nice and has a great, peaceful atmosphere. I need a name and I need to leverage myself as my brand and have a catchy tagline. My name is Dawn and the salon I will work at is called Ambiance Salon. As I am a booth renter, I want to focus more on me and incorporate the salon somewhere but I am not sure where. I have even thought of using my middle name (Rachelle) or a form of it to create another image or just use another name all together. I specialize in cuts, color and extensions. Any help would be appreciated.


Jay’s Answer: Don’t try to be a brand – be a stylist. Let word-of-mouth (and some beautiful model headshots) help to bring people to you. Your tagline can be simply “Specializing in Cuts, Color, and Extensions”. That clarifies who would most want to seek you out. As for a name, why not use your name, such as: Dawn Does Hair, Dawn Of A New Hairstyle, or simply “Dawn Moore Dixon”?

The Right Way To Start A Business?

I have a wonderful idea for a new business that I believe is going to be quite successful. I know I have to get a website going and jump in with both feet into social media with the blogs I have started but the branding and website development are holding me back. Where do I get started? Can you refer me to a good graphic designer and web builder that won’t cost me an arm and a leg?


Jay’s Answer: You have a couple of options: hire someone to do it for you or create the website (at least the first version) yourself.

However, before you create a website, you really should consider a strategy for making your business succeed. Having a website and blogging won’t by themselves create website traffic. You need to identify who is likely to want to buy your offering, why they’d choose you (instead of your competition), etc. The basics of this are covered in my article:

If you’ve done your strategy homework, then you have a good idea of the problems these people face, the language they use, the images they like, and the offer they’d react to. Using this information will create a website that resonates with your audience and is more likely to create sales for you. If you skip this step, you’ll get a web designer’s idea of what they think your website should look like – and not a marketing professional’s.

You can hire people locally (who you can meet face-to-face) or globally (,, etc.). But be warned: the true cost of a website isn’t in its creation – it’s in maintenance. Be willing to pay for each revision you make to your designer.

If you can, create your own website (or have a designer create a CMS-based website for you) using WordPress, Zoomla, iWeb, etc. Make sure whatever choice you make you use your own domain name (not: to ensure that your visitor’s first impression is favorable.

Business Lawyer Marketing

I’m putting together a marketing/PR proposal for a 3-person law firm. I’m coming up with various ideas to promote any of the three of them, but particularly need help with the one who does business law. She’s thinking she’d like to speak at business conferences (what kind? no clue), as she’s a good public speaker. She obviously needs to develop more relationships with more businesses.


Jay’s Answer: Who would be her ideal client? That’s who she needs to talk to. It may be local small businesses, larger corporations (who may have representation in-house but need specialization from time-to-time), franchises, etc. Once you better understand what type of law & for who, then find opportunities for her to be in front of many of these people at the same time – conferences, magazine articles, webcasts, etc.

Theme For Major Software Conversion

Our team is trying to develop a theme for a major software conversion our company is undertaking. This theme should be relevant to our internal resources that will be affected by the conversion, as well as our external customers. The conversion will bring about great change for our staff and clients, and the theme should reflect that the new software is a valuable tool, and that we are undergoing this change to position us for the future, and to take advantage of the potential of all the functionality the new software offers. Additionally, our organizational brand centres on the view that our company is there for our client at every point they are at in their life – if this could be incorporated into the theme, that would be great.


Jay’s Answer: Assuming that the conversion will help you for the future, why exactly should your customers care about your software conversion? Most of your customers are focused on short-term (their problems today) rather than long-term (the possibility that your change will somehow benefit them).

Since management has decided that the conversion is a good idea, you need to highlight why management bought into the process. Does the conversion save you money today? Will it pay for itself in short order? Will it result in the ability to sell your services for less? Do more with fewer employees? What will be lost? Gained? And finally, what’s the probability of success? Don’t focus on the cute or the simple (“we’re there for you”). Focus on the bottom-line benefits that people can perceive.

How Branded Should We Be For Our Centennial?

The non-profit I work for is celebrating its centennial next year and we are having a debate regarding how much we should brand our various non-centennial events/fundraisers with our centennial logo/look. I think we should only use the centennial logo as a replacement for our normal logo on none centennial events/fundraisers. Others feel we should use the entire look established for the stationary and kick-off materials for everything during the year.


Jay’s Answer: As a minimum, use it on everything for the year – it’ll help reinforce your centennial message in all your marketing efforts (even if the event isn’t centennial-related).

What Is A Branding Exercise?

I have a branding assignment from a mid-sized national trucking company. They specialize in time-sensitive marketing materials. The company, call them Ajax, provides superior transport services and has strong technical capabilities to support their operations.

Ajax has a good reputation with warehouse managers and “people on the dock” who often make the determination of a carrier. Their desire is to leverage this reputation and have it reflected in the brand and new marketing efforts to grow volume. Currently Ajax’ marketing program is pretty much non-existent. With a stronger brand and some marketing support they also hope to work their way up the customer food chain and develop some awareness among higher level executives at companies whose materials they are transporting. The hope being that these executives could be persuaded to direct warehouse and doc people to use Ajax as a carrier.

Now, to my question. I want to run a branding exercise with executives and employees of Ajax. I want to talk about the target, benefits, develop a brand essence and personality. Could you please offer me your thoughts on the components of brand architecture and any suggestions you have to tease out from them expressions of benefit and essence, etc. that are rich and emotional and not simply a dull recitation of the obvious.


Jay’s Answer: Instead of trying to get them to come up with branding thoughts, have them tell stories of things that they are proud of, or were told by others, or how a bad situation turned around. By analyzing the stories worth repeating you’ll get the emotional core of your branding/personality.

A Brand/Tagline For An Eye Surgeon?

I am representing an eye surgeon who performs eyelid lifts and eyebrow lifts. The new set of services also include; botox, wrinkle fillers, micro-dermabrasion and medical grade skincare products. I need a brand and tag line for the cosmetic offshoot of the business. I would like a simple, elegant name. The doctors’ goal is to be a resource for those looking to refresh their look. We plan to only work on facial cosmetic solutions- not liposuction, etc.


Jay’s Answer:

  • Eye Appeal
  • Eye Love
  • Face Forward

What To Name My Mortage Broker Newsletter?

I am designing a newsletter for real estate agents I want to work with. I am a mortgage broker and this letter will go out once a month, free, and be full of the latest up to date changing rules and guidelines for mortgage lending. Agents need to know this as it impacts their customers. Other competing brokers don’t always keep up with the rules nor bother to inform the agents. I see a chance to set myself apart. My first newsletter will tell about me and my credentials and include a photo; it will be in a newspaper format, with a header and columns and plenty of white space to make it easy to read. I will promise monthly mailings of the latest changes. This is a chance to brand myself as well…and I just cannot find the “perfect” name.


Jay’s Answer: I’d suggest also a link in the newsletter back to your website and/or RSS feed to get any important changes that real estate agents need to know immediately.

  • Real Lending News
  • Lend Me Your Ear
  • The Real Estate Lending Advantage

How Can I Communicate Our Digital Picture Quality USP?

This is a service which has only 1 differentiating factor from other competitors which is its digital picture quality. It has only 18% market share till now. The market leader has a 51% market share. The major competitors are the traditional cable operators. Please suggest how to increase the customer base and different ways of communication with single minded proposition.


Jay’s Answer: You provided what’s better (digital picture quality), but what about what’s not-as-good as the competition? If you’re as good as the competition, and still have something unique, you can have a side-to-side comparison and ask people to choose what they prefer (all other things being equal). As for the 18% market share – you get more customers when: 1) people leave existing providers or 2) new people choose you. If people are unsatisfied, then give them motivation to switch to you (free first month’s service with proof that they have been customers of your competition in the last 6 months). For new people, create a matrix comparing yourself with the others, and show how the choice is “crystal clear”.

What Are You Really Buying?

The moral is...
Photo by Sherman

I read with great interest the article “Burt’s Bees, Tom’s of Maine, Naked Juice: Your Favorite Brands? Take Another Look — They May Not Be What They Seem“. Andrea Whitfil does a great job unearthing how many natural and organic brands that we perceive as being produced by small companies are in reality now owned by large multinational corporations. And she’s very bothered by the deception.

When you offer a product or service, you’re actually making two separate promises: a primary logical offering and a secondary branding promise. The logical offering addresses the reason someone would choose your offering: price, speed, cost, efficiency, resources, quality of life, etc. These benefits are easily measured: how much faster/cheaper/better/bigger is your business or life.

The branding promise is much more subtle. Purchasing the offering will create a feeling in the buyer. They’ll feel like they’re now part of a specific community. They’ll feel better about them self. It will create an emotional reaction to making the purchase. The emotion may not make logical sense, but the feeling it produces is real enough.

What Andrea is complaining about is that many products have broken the branding promise. Andreas felt that she was supporting small businesses that were working hard to make a difference to the planet. Purchasing those small business products made her feel better about herself (and a belief she was helping others continue this worthy mission), so she embraced the product and the mission of the business.

Let’s say that you’re selling a successful product with a primary (logical) benefit and also have a great branding message that goes along with the product. And something happens that changes the story (it’s now made offshore, etc.). The product is made with the same exacting standards. Should you now change the branding message and risk sacrificing your success?

The large corporations that Andrea mentions decided to keep the branding message and hide their affiliation. Andrea would probably not be as upset with the duplicity if the products had updated their story to say something like, “Making a well-intentioned product is only good if it also produces a good livelihood. We didn’t have the resources to share the product with the whole world, so we sold our company. We make sure that they are also putting the same quality into their product as we did (even at a larger scale). If enough people buy these high-quality products, increasing profitability, then companies will see the bottom-line and change their values as well.”

Remember that some buyers look for stories when considering products. Some buyers look for products when considering communities.When all things are equal with a product, people look for differentiators. Your well-crafted branding story can be a key differentiator to attract buyers.