Sexy, Silly, Serious … What’s Your Brand’s Personality?

| August 10, 2016 | Reply

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By Duncan Pape – By the Design – as featured in Les Nouvelles Esthetiques Spa Magazine – Issue 70.  To subscribe:

This is by far one of the most important aspects when establishing your brand identity. Brands need to have a personality to enable your business to connect to your clients, or your clients to relate to your brand. Reality is that a brand is way more than just your premises, or your marketing campaign, your logo or even service delivery. The brand needs to demonstrate characteristics which make it approachable, or attractive or interesting to ensure a connection with your desired target audience. This personality even stretches through to your staff and their behaviour.

Duncan has been involved in all aspects of the spa industry and he really thinks that a lack of brand personality is where most spas are missing the point. He believes that the owners and managers are way too safe and prudish. To be at the forefront in the current spa industry seem to only require you to have an ok service and different facilities whilst your brand might be shocking. This provides evidence that most spas do not really understand their purpose or brand personality at all!

By comparison to international standards this is further emphasised by a South African mentality of continuous complaining and not doing much. Spa leaders are too focused on shifting the blame and not taking responsibility for the outcome of their efforts. Although much thought is given to spa aesthetics and client experiences, very few actually consider the brand personality and how this translates back into every aspect of the business. even when spa owners cannot find one word to describe their brand’s personality. Even when spa owners cannot find one word to describe their brand’s personality, suggesting sexiness or even silliness to the brand personality, is met with reluctance or even outright refusal.

A critical part of creating a brand personality is to define your brand’s purpose. What is it you want to be known for or to be known as? Start writing down some descriptive words. Is it sophistication, fun, professionalism, or even convenience? These words start to form a strong sense of purpose and will greatly impact on your brand personality. This, however does not end here. These words needs to become the foundation to your brand’s personality, and create a platform from which your staff needs to be hired, measured and rewarded. These personality traits will guide criteria for staff recruitment, performance management, recognition processes and rewards.

The following diagram illustrates a number of areas for consideration when defining your brand’s personality and ultimately your brand’s purpose. The purpose will give direction and focus whilst the personality will reflect the tone and behaviour in which tasks will be performed, of marketing campaigns and dealing with your clients.

business purposeThe diagram provides some guidelines to certain questions that will allow a better understanding of your brand. As an example, the red questions is relevant to better understanding your business by asking what your business is good at and what your brand loves doing. These questions should give you a clearer understanding of your brand, and what your business is passionate about. The same applies for the other quadrants revealing insight into your mission, vocation and profession. The centre of all of this should provide a powerful purpose for your business and brand.

In the 1980’s Harley Davidson stopped manufacturing motorcycles by creating an opportunity for 43-year old accountants to explore their “inner rebel” A Harley Davidson is handcrafted, so you can imagine how reluctant bike-builders was when they got told Harley no longer build motorbikes. However, this new vision and direction gave them a much bigger purpose which resulted in Harley Davidson becoming a world-famous motorcycle brand, synonymous with conservative, wealthy people riding like “outlaws”. Harley’s are now a premium product demanding a premium price tag. All achieved by having a clear purpose and a lawless, rock-star brand personality.

Apple offers another great brand story. Steve Jobs defined Apple’s sole purpose to create user experiences and this purpose drives every aspect of Apple’s designs; from their products to their packaging and even retail shop-fitting. Apple products therefore do not only offer great functionality but they are also sexy and beautiful. Their products are used by creatives, up and coming entrepreneurs alike. It attracts people that want to stand out from the crowd.

Another two great brand examples are that of Coke and Red Bull. Everyone knows Red Bull gives you wings, but their brand purpose and personality demonstrates this literally and they are now a leading brand in extreme sports and daredevil activities. Coke on the other hand is all about fun and happiness and every part of their marketing campaigns, activations and brand personality is about this basic emotion. Even with the widely-published health hazards of this product, it is still consumed by billions of people worldwide. As if drinking Coke literally makes you happy.

Now try and apply these principles to your own business and brand. Being a spa doesn’t mean you need to have a lifeless, boring or even conservative brand personality. It can take on a number of guises from a sophisticated image to an enthusiastic image. All with a similar service offering. This will attract like-minded clients and staff only if this personality is consistent and reflects across all interaction touch-points.

It is critical to define your brand’s purpose and, in turn, your brand’s personality with as much detail as possible. These details need to match your preferred target client as well as their needs. But in addition also needs to match the personalities of your team and ultimately your value-proposition and service offering. If they don’t all align, it becomes a recipe for disaster. It will confuse your clients as well as your staff resulting into a schizophrenic brand.

We strongly urge spas to apply themselves thoroughly during these exercises and to stretch themselves to go beyond the norm. You should take that leap to differentiate yourself from the ordinary and feel free to actually consider pushing boundaries. Statistics show that the beauty and spa industry is still a rapidly growing sector and we believe there are still major opportunities for evolution in this space. It is also true that whatever you innovate today will become the norm tomorrow. You and your team need to be continuously improving on guest experiences, implementing added value, developing staff. This in turn will attract and retain talent. All of this can be achieved by creating a suitable, sustainable and consistent brand personality.

These days people love different. Be unique, be special. You can be sexy, silly or serious. Just be something! This personality will ultimately guide every activity in the business and keep them aligned to your vision, as well as your client base.


Duncan Pape small file

Duncan Pape has 16 years of experience in the fashion and beauty industry from retail, distribution marketing, to training and spa consulting. Duncan has worked for one of the largest distributor of skin, hair and nail products in South Africa where he perfected his skills in sales and training.

He studied at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology to become a trainer’s trainer and has worked as a brand manager for various spa groups and brands.

He is currently creator and contributed to the creation of the brand Langaro Lifestyle Centre, which won Les Nouvelles Esthetiques Day spa Award in 2014 & 2016 and currently has been awarded World luxury Emerging Spa in Africa Award 2016.

Category: Spa Articles

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