Industry News

Build Your Brand - Part 1

September 28, 2012 | 6:44 AM
What goes into creating your spa’s brand? “It’s not just your logo—although that’s what the majority of small businesses are being led by ad agencies and designers to think,” asserts Ed Roach, a consultant with The Branding Experts in Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada. “If they simply change the logo or image, they believe they’re rebranding themselves, but they’re not—it’s their reputation that makes the brand. Your brand is what your clients think it is.” And sometimes, your own perception of your spa’s brand (“full-service wellness retreat”) does not match the perception held by your clients (“that place for good massages”). So how can you effectively create and communicate a strong brand that will result in profits?

take a fresh look

“First, you have to determine what your brand currently is,” says Roach. “Establish what your brand is by talking to your customers, your employees and your suppliers.” By putting together brief surveys or even simply by conducting conversations, owners can take the pulse of the state of the spa’s brand. “Just try to completely understand what your brand is and if it’s what you want to portray,” he adds.
You’ll definitely want to take a close look at all aspects of your spa, from your philosophy and marketing materials to your location’s interior and exterior. “The branding has to be a reflection of all the work that has gone into creating the spa—the physical space and all the practices,” says Dianne Stasi, owner of consulting firm Stasi and Company, whose SpaVertising division specializes in spa branding. (For more specific ways to assess the state of your spa’s brand, read the “Where to Start” sidebar on page 28.)
Another must is assessing the other spas in your area. “Lots of other spas copy the one major spa in their market—even using the same colors in the brand,” notes Roach. “But if you do this, you’re not allowing yourself to become bigger; you’re just following in their footsteps.” Once you’ve determined who the public thinks you are and what your competition is like, you’re poised to decide where you want to fit on that spectrum—and a forward-thinking owner will want to make her spa a leader in its market.

change from within

“If you’re exactly like your competition, marketing will be very hard and very expensive,” says Roach. “You have to find a unique selling point that distinguishes yourself from the competition.” This may be a great opportunity to make some much-needed changes to your brand, especially if you find that your brand appears similar to those of other area spas. “In a large city, there are hundreds of ‘spas,’ so you’re advertising against anyone calling their business a ‘spa,’” Roach explains. “One way around that is to re-categorize yourself into a ‘wellness center’ or a ‘retreat.’ If there are none of those in your market, you can develop your spa into one, and you have no competition.”
You can also look at what you already offer that has the potential to build your brand: your customer service, your specialty treatments, etc. “Let’s say you have a practice of always offering your clients coffee when they come in. You can upsell them to a package for premium service—give the package a name, and that gives you a differentiator,” suggests Roach. “For example, when they come in, they can be guaranteed to always get a premium cappuccino made just for them, VIP treatment, etc. For some clients, this may be quite appealing, and you get extra income because of it.”�

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