Laughing all the Way to the Bank
How Salons Are Building their Brands with Humor
By Katie Harrington
Who says branding has to be boring? Not these forward-thinking salon owners! Rejecting the traditional “pretty picture” approach to salon marketing, they chose a more unconventional route to attract the attention of new clients. Using imagination and a great sense of humor, these visionaries achieved successful results beyond their dreams and beyond their expectations. Here’s how.
Hairobert, Germantown, TN
In 1988, at the age of 25, Robert Brown opened his first hair salon in a small town near Memphis, TN. Back then, there weren’t many options for advertising, save an alternative, weekly newspaper called the Memphis Flyer. “It was the cool, college kid newspaper, Robert recalls, “so we decided to advertise there.” Robert and his team knew they had to create an original, unique ad to avoid getting lost in the shuffle, so playing off Vidal Sassoon’s 1980s tagline, “IfYou Don’t Look Good, WeDon’t Look Good,” they came up with, “If We Can’t Make You Look Good…You Ugly.” The result? The very next day, Hairobert was featured on the Memphis local news. A year after that, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno picked up the slogan as part of its “Headlines” segment. In subsequent years it has appeared on Conan O’Brien and in a slew of other news outlets.
“I had people calling me all the time saying, ‘Oh my god, we just saw your salon on TV!’” says Robert. Now that’s the power of humor. Twenty five years later, Robert says humor has helped his business stay true to its roots. “We definitely attract a certain kind of person who has a sense of humor,” says Robert. “I think people kind of get in where they fit in, you know?” Hairobert, Robert says, is more than your typical salon. It’s fun, friendly—a place where everybody knows your name and you’re more likely to get wine served in a plastic cup than a crystal wine glass. “It’s like a big living room,” he says. “Having that humor element…it’s like, ‘Check your attitude at the door.’ Humor lets you know that getting your hair done can be fun—it’s not the dentist! You can look forward to having a good time while you’re here.”
Styles Barbershop, Wilmington, DE
“There aren’t many things that make people stop and take notice,” says Vincent Strano, owner of Styles Barbershop. “But mullets definitely grab attention.”
Vincent, who created the Barbers Against Mullets (or B.A.M) slogan to brand his barbershop, has capitalized on the kitsch of the iconic style to drive his business—and he says he and his team have experienced tons of success with their campaign.
“People stop in all the time to tell us their husbands used to have [a mullet],” says Vincent. “One lady came in just to tell us she pinned [our sign] to her Pinterest!”
The B.A.M. slogan, which Vincent says is a play on the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), is now featured on signs, t-shirts and bumper stickers. Ironically, Vincent says, Styles Barbershop has had clients who have requested the hairstyle. “Actually, if you ask me,” he says, “we can create some pretty sweet mullets!”
Wise Guys Haircuts, Madison Heights, MI
Donny Dedvukaj, of WiseGuys Haircuts, was sick of driving down the road and seeing the same, boring signs on every street corner—so he took action by creating signs featuring humorous, satirical slogans outside his barbershop.
“We wanted something that would make us stand out a little bit,” Donny said.
“And it’s been amazing. I get tons of emails saying ‘Thank you for the morning laugh—you brightened my day!’”
Donny believes comical marketing has helped attract more good-natured clients to his business—clients, he says, who also tend to be more loyal.
“I think when you have a good sense of humor, it rubs off on your clients and your staff, and it makes everyone lighten up,” Donny says. “And when your clients are happy and your staff is happy, the whole place runs great.”