Whether you’re an expert in Brazilian blow-outs or you’ve mastered hipster barbering to a T, your salon deserves a brilliant branding strategy. With killer salon branding, your business can gain popularity, achieve stellar revenue and maintain longevity.

Illustration of two stylists working on their brand and client in a salon
Illustration by OrangeCrush

The beauty industry is a highly competitive one. There are salons on every corner, each with a different strategy for luring customers through their doors. As of 2021, there were 874,408 hair salons in the United States. Salons account for 95% of the market in the United States, with barbershops taking the other 5%.

Additionally, at-home hair care companies like Madison Reed compete with salons by making at-home hair care convenient and affordable. And in the bigger scheme of things, the global hair care market is estimated to be an 87.9 billion dollar industry.

The competition is thick, but with a solid branding strategy, you can make waves in the beauty industry. In this deep-dive into salon branding, we share tips to help your salon become a cut above the rest.

Define your brand and groom it to perfection

blink and brow beauty bar business card in neutral tones
Logo design by joycreativa

A brand is how others perceive your salon. But before others can perceive you, you need to identify yourself through understanding your mission, vision and values.

Ask yourself this question: Who are you as a salon, and what are your beliefs? When answering, be honest. Not all salons are luxury brands and you don’t have to be something that you’re not.

Solid branding creates an emotional connection with your target market clientele before you ever meet.
- Britt Seva

As the original business and marketing strategist for hair stylists, Britt Seva hosts The Thriving Stylist Podcast. According to her expert opinion, “Solid branding creates an emotional connection with your target market clientele before you ever meet. ‘Know, like and trust’ is the 3 part cocktail that consumers today are seeing and the fastest way to craft that cocktail is through a solid brand message, design and strategy.”

quirky aesthetic from the Glasgow-based salon NAF
Glasgow salon, NAF, show off their aesthetic via nafsalon.com

Take for example Glasgow-based NAF! salon. They softly blend millennial pink with quirky deco amidst a backdrop of minimal white. They understand who they are and aren’t afraid to speak casually with their customers; their website states, “We pride ourselves on our badass nail skills, friendly chat, fab customer service and catchy playlists.” By being honest about their values, NAF! trims away the competition, attracting their chill, quirky customers not only to their physical store but to their digitally-available product range.

Untangle your competition

Next, you need to think about how you’ll stand out amongst other salons. As we said, there’s a lot of it, so this is definitely something to understand right away. Look at drybar, which just might be the most successful hair salon which doesn’t even offer cuts or color. That’s right, their motto is “No cuts. No color. Just blowouts.” So how did they skyrocket to opening 92 salon locations in the United States and Canada? A mix of smart branding and stellar confidence.

Drybar interior
by Drybar via Glassdoor

The drybar brand was designed with bar vernacular in mind. The employees are called “bartenders” and the hairstyles are named after popular cocktails. It’s a fun little twist that helps the brand stand out. Additionally, their confidence is undeniable. “Focus on one thing and be the best at it” is their motto, and they do just that. They take pride in being really, really good at blowouts. And with over $100 million dollars in revenue so far, they have done just that.

Care about your customer

As you’re defining your brand, be attentive towards who your customers are, as you’ll be keeping them in mind through every step of the branding process.

Does your salon concentrate on color and cuts for women, for instance? Are you exclusively a barbershop? Would you consider kids as part of your target audience? Do you specialize in one type of service or do you invite your clientele to spend longer in your salon, offering a holistic experience of beauty and nail treatments?

Salon chairs at Pigtails & Crewcuts
Salon chairs via pigtailsandcrewcuts.com

It’s imperative that you understand who you are as a brand and who your customers are. For example, look at Pigtails & Crewcuts: a kids’ salon which boasts the motto of “Where fun and style meet.” The salon makes the experience unique by providing playful chairs shaped like cars and planes. But where they really succeed is in their broad range of services.

Yes, this is a children’s salon with haircuts, braids, nail polish and ear piercing for kids—but mom and dad have needs, too. That’s why Pigtails & Crewcuts provides haircuts and blowouts for adults. They understand that a family-friendly business should offer something for everyone and it’s led to great success. The ever-growing franchise now has salons in 20 different states.

Plain and simple: your services and specialties should be a direct reflection of your customers’ wants and needs. Remember, everyone needs a haircut at some point.

barbershop logo on dark mode
Ferdi’s men’s salon, logo design by Glyptic”
salon logo for pets in black, pink and blue
Pet salon logo by Tim_mQr

Whether you’re a free-spirited hippie, a businessperson seeking a luxury escape or a busy parent whose child gave themself a bowl cut, a trip to the salon is a regular part of one’s routine. You need to give them a reason to come to you, rather than going elsewhere or trying to DIY.

Sure, some customers will come more frequently than others if they need to trim their bangs or touch up their roots, but ultimately, everybody does need a haircut. Know your customer and develop a salon brand which will make them want to come back again and again.

Straighten out your brand identity

The actions you take to build a certain image of your salon will ultimately result in the creation and execution of your branding. Jointly, your brand identity is the set of tangible brand elements which unite to create your brand image.

Logo

Start with a great salon logo. It’s the best way to tell someone about your salon before they’ve even made an appointment or set foot inside. Let the logo be a reflection of who you are and what you’re all about, whether that’s a boutique salon experience, a relaxing spa getaway or the most vibrant purple hair dye on the market.

opal salon business card and logo design
Design by Enes Gundogdur

Then, think about all of the places where this logo can go, like exterior signage, business cards, product packaging and more. With the right logo design, you’ll make a bold first impression and show your true colors right from the start.

Once you have your logo, you can incorporate it into your salon brand guidelines, along with your standards for the color palette, typography and imagery.

Color palette

The color palette is an integral part of your brand identity, and it can appear in many places both inside and outside your salon. Color is a source of personality and purpose. You can use your color palette as a means of bringing your brand identity to life.

The Maggie Rios Salon color palette below exemplifies how color can speak for a salon as a brand. The color palette feels well-balanced, but a little fancy: perfect for a salon and day spa. The black and gold pairing offers a classic look with an air of luxury. Additionally, square business cards help the salon stand out in a strategic, refined way.

Zoltons Salon and Day Spa Business Card
Zoltons Salon and Day Spa Business Card by Arthean

Typography

Next, typography. Remember that it’s not just about what your words and letters say, but also how they appear. Are you a free-spirited salon that thrives on vintage decor, indie music and unconventional dye jobs? Say it with a handwritten font that evokes the charming personality of your salon. Or perhaps you’re a slick, chic, upscale salon with a noteworthy clientele. Own it! Say who you are with minimalist sans serif typography in a classic, sophisticated color palette.

spa business card with flowers, sweets and a coordinated watch
On demand spa app, branding design by Eminssat

Med spas are the Corvettes of the salon industry, and their typography should say just that. Look to Esthederm’s signage below for a mix of serif and sans serif fonts which are perfectly centered under their elegant logo. With intelligent typography and logo design enhancing their brand identity, this visual branding works perfectly for their boutique beauty clientele.

Esthederm Med Spa Logo
Esthederm Med Spa logo by mercidsgn

Imagery

Imagery plays a crucial role in your salon brand identity and will help emphasize the message which you send to your customers. Carefully curate all images on your website and social media accounts to ensure that the aesthetic is consistent and high-quality.

You don’t need a plethora of images to get your message across. With the “less is more” approach, you can embody your brand identity by making a cohesive visual statement about who you are.

For instance, Fluent Hair Salon’s website imagery maintains a uniform aesthetic when it comes to brightness, lighting and hues. Additionally, the hero image of the salon’s floor-to-ceiling greenery offers instant intrigue for potential new clients. By maintaining a cohesive visual presence and giving the customer a reason to ask for more, the imagery boosts their brand identity.

Fluent Hair Studio website
Fluent hair studio website by De_Desizn

Packaging

If you are selling your own products in your salon, offer product packaging which represents your brand identity. Consider branded paper bags for customers to take their purchased products home in. This is when it all comes together. Your logo, color palette and typography should coexist harmoniously on your packaging. From signature shampoo to the cute little envelope that holds a gift card, you don’t want to miss out on a gorgeous packaging opportunity.

Zomer skincare packaging
Zomer skincare packaging by wilndr

This is the beauty industry, where your packaging should look just as gorgeous as your customers feel. Zomer skincare packaging hits it out of the park with their eye-catching color palette, modern serif font and a coordinating bag to carry all of the goods. It’s consistent, memorable and downright beautiful.

salon prodcut range for dreadlock hair
Product design by tatparaa

Add volume and stand out from the rest

Once you’ve defined your brand and developed an identity, it’s time to innovate. The beauty industry can be quite cutthroat, but with smart, creative strategies, you can ensure that your salon stands out.

Curate a branded space

To establish the perfect location for your salon, seek out neighborhoods which support the culture you’re looking to create. Most customers don’t want to have a long commute for a haircut, so will likely live close by. Pick the location accordingly based on the type of crowd you’re looking to attract, be it practical parents on a budget, young bohemians or swanky socialites. Whomever they are: set up shop in their ‘hood.

Once you’ve signed a lease in the right neighborhood, decorate the space to ensure that you’re offering a complete, cohesive branded experience. Remember that absolutely everything can be branded, from simple no-brainers like signage and salon chairs, to extra little details like the bike parking area for the eco-friendly crowd. Seriously, everything can be branded—even the bathroom.

Pink Confessions salon decor
Pink Confessions salon decor via tulimond.com
Pink Confessions salon decor
Pink Confessions salon decor

Qatar-based Pink Confessions is a salon which specializes in nail art, glamorous hair and delicious coffee. Their sleek, geometric decor creates an immersive, branded experience the moment a customer walks in. While the open-concept floor plan feels refreshingly inviting, there’s a unique twist: the interior designers kept the hair area separated in order to reduce noise and maintain a sense of tranquility in other spaces, like the nail art area and the in-house coffee bar.

Decor at Salon 64
Decor at Salon 64 via Hello Magazine
Decor at Salon 64
Decor at Salon 64

When it comes to luxury aesthetics, London-based Salon 64 offers the ultimate opulent experience. With exquisite marble fire pits to stylish, futuristic washing stations and a deluxe private vault, every ounce of this salon feels more like a destination and less like a routine appointment. This salon truly offers an escape from everyday life and offers an unforgettable, ultra-branded space.

Use technology to your advantage

The smartest salons are the ones that use technology to their advantage in order to boost their brand and engage with customers.

Bleach London started as a small, color-focused business. Then, it snowballed into a global brand with four successful locations (three in London and one in Los Angeles). They’re known for technicolor dye jobs and popular home hair kits, but the area where they really excel is customer engagement.

The salon uses technology to its advantage by hosting regular “hair parties” in a digital hair salon where customers are encouraged to “self-dye-solate” while celebrity clients like Georgia May Jagger share their “hair stories.” It’s fun and interactive, but there’s also an element of exclusivity.

Bleach London hair party invitation
Bleach London hair party invitation via Because Magazine

Social media is a fantastic opportunity for you to share the amazing styles you’ve created and to engage with your clients. Curating an Instagram, Facebook or TikTok account can not only be a way for new clients to discover your salon, but it will turn existing clients into loyal fans that keep coming back.

Another way to use technology to your advantage is to set up your business with a stellar software system which improves efficiency and enriches the customer experience. Award-winning Salon Iris offers a complete software experience for a salon, including point of sale, bookings through an app, email automation and payroll management.

Remember, part of developing a successful salon brand is making your salon approachable and relatable. The opportunity to book through an app adds incredible convenience for the customer and will ultimately improve their perception of your brand. Plus, it’s fewer phone calls on your end.

Don’t get blown away by the competition

When it comes to creating stunning salon branding, there is no time like the present. Look at it this way: after what feels like an eternity of lockdown, who doesn’t want to go out and feel beautiful? Now is the perfect time to define your brand, develop an identity and get creative in your branding approach. Not sure where to start? The global community of designers at 99designs is here to help.

Need help perfecting your brand identity?
Our talented designers can make you look your best.