First off, congratulations to all the new graduates! It’s very exciting when you’re ready to finally go off on your own, but it can also be nerve-racking. There’s a lot to prepare for and consider in advance, especially if you want to properly protect your brand and integrity.
Over the years, our founder, president, and resident Sugar Queen, Lina Kennedy, has gone through it all! And she’s given her top tips that everyone should follow to successfully launch & protect their brand.
1. Trademark Registration Search
Picking a salon name is the first step to creating your brand but you need to ensure you aren’t infringing on anyone else’s intellectual property. When you’re choosing names & logos, be sure to perform a basic trademark search through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Simply visit uspto.gov/trademarks/search and use Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).
TESS allows for basic trademarks searches and will notify you of any existing companies or brands using the name you’re interested in. If the name is in use elsewhere, the safest thing for you to do is choose a different name. While brands can – and do – have similar names, it would require more time, money, and work to make sure you don’t infringe on their registrations.
This free search is a great tool for getting a quick idea of any existing trademark registrations but if you’re looking to open a full-service salon with employees, merchandise, or your own line of products, we highly recommend getting a trademark lawyer involved as they will be able to perform deeper, more in-depth searches that include pending registrations.
2. Domain Name Search
Before you can move on, you should complete one more search – a domain name search. There are plenty of websites you can use to see if a domain is in use or owned by someone else. At Alexandria Professional®, we’ve used GoDaddy.com before and find it very user-friendly. All you need to do is type in the domain name you want in their search bar, and they’ll let you know immediately if the domain is available for purchase or not.
In this day and age, a website is a must for any business, so if the domain name is available, it’s in your best interest to purchase it. Most domains are around $25/year to own making the cost very affordable
3. Register Your Brand Name
If all systems are a go (trademark search passes, domain name passes), then your next step should be to trademark your salon brand name & logo. By registering your desired name, you’re preventing anyone else from using the name in the same or similar capacity (e.g., esthetic treatments, hair removal, skincare products, etc.) This also makes it easier if you choose to expand your business later to include things like merchandising or your own line of beauty products.
You can register for a trademark yourself on www.uspto.gov or you can engage a trademark lawyer to file the application and manage the registration for you.
4. Secure Your Social Media Handles
Once you’ve determined the name you want to use, you should immediately go and secure all of your social media handles (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, etc.) Try to keep the name as simple as possible but accept that with millions of users, you might not get the exact name you want. And that’s okay! Just be sure to keep it consistent across all platforms.
P.S. While on the topic of social media accounts, always go for the business profile option to get the maximum benefits like post analytics, running ads, and promoting your services in your area.
5. Protect Your Branding
So far, we’ve talked a lot about protecting your actual brand name, but it’s also important to protect your branding. Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are going to be your friend. Anytime you hire someone to help with website building, social media planning, or marketing in general, you should have them first sign an NDA. What this will do is prevent them from sharing your logo, content, design, themes, and color schemes with other people, such as potential or existing competitors.
6. Use Model Release Forms
As beauty professionals, we’re all about “the proof is in the pudding”, which means we rely heavily on before & after pictures and testimonials of clients to showcase the real-world results that can be achieved. This is an essential part of salon marketing, but before you post those pictures, you should always have your clients sign a Model Release Form. You can download a sample here: Model Release
Social media platforms are cracking down on privacy, so the last thing you want is for a client to report you for using a picture or quote of them without their permission. A Model Release Form is just a fancy way of saying your client is given explicit permission for you to use their image(s) and words for marketing purposes.
7. Keep A Backup of All Your Work
Lastly, you don’t “own” social media and if anything happens to your accounts, you can stand to lose everything. Always make sure you’re regularly backing up your files, such as blogs, social media graphics, ads, testimonials, etc. Social media is essentially there to get your “work” in front of more people, but it shouldn’t be used as your archive.
Protecting your brand and protecting your integrity doesn’t have to be complicated. These seven tips will help guide you and get you started on the right path to building a well-guarded, successful brand!