Defining Your Barbershop Identity:
What’s a Brand Identity All About, Anyway?
Even if you don’t realize it, you’ve been wowed by a brand’s identity thousands of times. Think about it—how many times have you walked down the street and seen an advertisement, an image, a product, or a service, or even heard someone vaguely talking about a brand, and immediately recognized the business?
It probably happens a ton.
But identity, especially when it comes to business and brand identity, isn’t an easy concept to break down. We won’t sugarcoat this—understanding brand identity is tough, and it’s even tougher to try to craft your shop’s own, unique identity that truly sets it apart from the rest.
That being said, it’s nowhere near impossible. But to understand how to create and formulate the brand identity of your dreams for your barbershop, you’ll need to understand what brand identity is, and more importantly, why it matters in the first place.
Keep reading to learn how you can have a badass brand identity for your barbershop!
Let’s Talk Identity, What Does it All Mean?
Hold your horses and stop pulling your hair out—we’re not saying now’s the time for an existential crisis. But, we are saying that creating an amazing brand identity (we won’t get into yours right now) is a huge component to setting your shop up for success.
But, and here’s the real kicker, you can’t create a wow-inducing identity for your shop’s brand if you’re not really sure what a brand identity is in the first place.
So, let’s start here.
Think about a hugely popular brand or business out there. Apple? Google? Walmart? American Express? Any of these (or any like them) will work for this example. You can undoubtedly think about an ad, a commercial, a photo, an experience, a memory, etc. that links your perception of that brand to the business. In other words, because of how these brand has positioned themselves, you have a clear connection to them, you know what they stand for, and you can easily pick them out of a crowd.
That’s basically brand identity, in a nutshell, and big names like this absolutely kill it in the brand identity game. But smaller establishments do, too. In fact, based on those criteria, you can probably think of a handful of local businesses that are wildly successful in establishing their brand identity.
At its core, a brand identity is what clearly defines your barbershop’s values, attributes, purposes, and goals—it’s what your audience can and should connect and relate to and be the strongest takeaway someone has when dealing with your brand (directly or indirectly).
Your barbershop identity is what shows clients (current or potential) what makes you different, what sets you apart, and what defines your business for what it is.
How to Establish Your Shop’s Identity—Start from the Bottom and Work Your Way Up
It’s not going to be easy, but it’s definitely going to be worth it (how’s about that for a cliché?). Defining your shop’s identity is crucial for taking the next step toward success!
Know Your Audience, Be Realistic About Your Place in the Market
This one is short and sweet—know who your audience is and know where you fit into the market. Without a proper understanding of either of those things, all of your efforts will be for nothing.
Why? Because you can’t connect with your customers, learn what makes them tick, or establish a brand identity if you don’t even know who they are or where you fit in the market. Define your weaknesses, your strengths, your competitors, and what you’re bringing to the table as a quick exercise to garner an understanding of who you are and where you stand.
Establish Visions, Goals, Missions, and Purpose
A shop’s identity is only as strong as the intangible pieces of the branding puzzle—so, it’s best to ensure you’re laying this all out on the line from the start to really define what your brand is and why you exist. Figure out what your purpose is, figure out why you’re here, and figure out what makes you special and different.
What problems are you trying to solve? What foundation are you trying to establish? Why?
Answering the tough questions, establishing your list of ethics, goals, missions, and purpose, and honestly learning how to turn that into your brand’s identity is the first step in connecting with your audience so they can establish why they’re excited and glad you exist.
Put Yourself In Your Customers’ Shoes
One of the biggest reasons we work so hard to establish shop identity is because it’s ideal to put yourself in control of how your target market perceives you.
The best way to do that? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and truly get down and dirty to see it from their perspective. Gather your friends, your valued customers, your employees, whoever’s opinion you truly value and do a real deal brainstorming session.
Ask important questions about every part of your brand:
- What is my customer perceiving bout my brand based on what I’m presenting to them?
- How am I differentiating myself from the crowd? Am I accomplishing that at all?
- What can I do better? What are my strengths?
- What am I offering that my competitors aren’t and are my customers able to readily see that difference?
- What’s my brand’s personality? Is it easy to understand or am I sending mixed signals?
The more you can put yourself in a customers’ shoes to understand what they’re seeing, the better off you’ll be when it comes to nailing down your shop’s identity.
Mesh Intangible with Tangible Factors to Create an Appealing Aesthetic
Brand identity can be exceptionally tough to understand because many people believe a brand’s identity is entirely based on the tangible aspects—the aesthetic, the environment, the typography, logo, website, etc.
But here’s the thing—those are all factors that are important to a brand’s identity, but they don’t make up the brand’s identity. You’ve already taken the steps to establish how you want your shop’s identity to feel and be perceived, now you just need to take steps to express that identity in a way that matches the personality and feel you want to portray.
Our best advice is to, if possible, work with a professional who can help guide you along the right path. Or, employ the help of talented friends to brainstorm and work with you to ensure you’re accurately using the tangible factors of your brand to express your shop’s true identity.
Pursuing a badass barbershop identity isn’t easy, but we believe in you. If you, your barbering community, or anyone you know has tips or tricks for establishing an amazing identity for their barbershop, we encourage you to share that with us here!
Our community is always dying to hear from the barbers out there who are making a name for themselves.
If you’re looking for more barbering buzz just like this, keep up with NAOB’s barbering blog, a regularly updated site filled with the barbering biz chatter you’ve been dying for!