Branding Your Spa: The Importance of Being a Purple Cow

What is a brand? In technical terms, the American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers." While this is true, there is more to branding if you want to stand out from your competition and increase your profitability.

There are three main elements of a successful brand:

  1. A clear and consistent look, feel and message across all marketing channels that accurately reflects your brand and is specifically designed to attract your target market.  This includes things like your products, services, logo, tagline and mission statement.

  2. Conveys your unique selling position (USP), the true essence of your business to your current and potential clients.

  3. Delivers a real life spa experience that accurately reflects your brand message.  It must be valuable and satisfying for your customer who now expects your brand.  Give it to them and then some.

You might be asking yourself, how can I do this?  While there are many angles, here is a concept I find to be important when you are considering how to effectively brand your spa.

Be Remarkable in Your Marketing Mix
In today’s saturated marketplace, unsuccessful spa entrepreneurs attempt to market to everyone and end up blending in. On the other hand, successful spa owners realize it is not possible to be all things to all people.  Instead, they distinguish themselves by communicating a remarkable brand message to their target market.

In order to be remarkable, it is important to develop a strategic business plan that includes marketing efforts that support your spa’s brand niche.  Traditionally, this marketing mix includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Promotion and Place.  But marketing guru Seth Godin adds a 5th factor to this set.  You might have heard of it.  It’s called the Purple Cow

Every day, consumers are faced with a lot of boring stuff (otherwise known as brown cows) but you can bet they won’t forget one that’s purple.  This "Purple Cow" concept is inherent to a brand: it’s either there or it’s not.  You can be remarkable or be boring.  From a spa branding perspective, this means you must be something fantastic, something exciting all the while fulfilling a need for your current and potential clients.  As a result, your brand will become worth talking about and increase the probability of your success. 

Take Bliss Spa for example. The highly respected Bliss brand is known for its sense of humor with whimsically named products and treatments such as "Quadruple Thighpass." Furthermore, the "Blissgirl" character is central to their brand, an illustrated icon that appears throughout Bliss-branded channels, including Bliss catalog covers and  She is usually depicted using beauty products in playful ways to align with Bliss’ playful brand personality. This is a remarkable and successful spa brand.

There is no denying that strategic branding takes a lot of work and effort.  Do you think companies like Apple, Nike, Volkswagen or Bliss are enjoying great brand success because they took the quick and easy route?  No way.  But even if you are a small spa business, think about what your brand means to you and how you can be a Purple Cow in your marketplace.  There is more business out there for you.  Your target market just needs to hear your spa’s unique message exactly the way you intend convey it. 

Action Exercise: Branding Consistency Checklist
Whether you have an existing brand or are looking to create a new spa brand, use the checklist below to make sure you have consistency across applicable marketing channels.


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