As covered in our overview of what a niche brand is, they certainly aren’t for everyone. If you’ve made it here, it’s likely that you are at least seriously considering or have already committed to the idea of developing your own niche brand, or converting your brand into a more specialized one. Congrats, you are choosing the road less traveled! While you may have a little bit of a longer game to play, the reward at the end is two-fold: a highly loyal client base and a brand that you can feel personally invested in and tied to. This is going to be fun, let’s get started.
You Will Need: Notebook/Scratch Paper, Pen or Pencil, Pinterest Account.
Recommended: An open-mind and an email account.
The first step is to take stock of where your brand currently is. If you are just getting started, you can answer “Non-existent” to yourself right now and skip on down to the next step. If you have an existing brand that you are looking to shift over into a more niche arena, here are some things to make note of:
- Describe your business as if it were a person.
- Describe your clientele as a whole (we understand that every client is a unique and a beautiful snowflake, but for the purposes of this tutorial we are looking at them as a group).
- What are your passions, outside of beauty?*
*Here’s where that recommended email address comes in. If you have no idea what you are passionate about, we have a 10-day free email course that can help you discover it. You can sign up for it, at the end of this article.
- What potential niches can you develop from your passions? Nerdy barbershop a la Beardsgaard? All things rock ‘n’ roll like Hi-Fi Hair & Records? Eco-conscious like Karen Marie?
Now that you know where you are, we can start to frame out where you would like to be. This can be a difficult step, but by breaking the big picture down into small, manageable steps, we can start to craft a plan.
- Where would you like to see your business in*:
- One year:
- Five years:
- 10+ years:
- List specifics like client list size, income level, even square footage of your space if you like. If you want multiple locations, list that too. Be as specific as you can be, and if you can’t be that specific, leave room to go back and fill this in later.
- Write your vision statement. It can be easiest to start with your long-term, main goal and work from there. Microsoft’s original mission statement, “A computer on every desk and in every home running Microsoft software,” is a lofty goal and one that would never be reached. But it makes for a crystal-clear vision.
Research & Planning
Now we are getting to the fun part. Let’s take our answers from the first section, combine them with the second and start looking for some examples of successful case studies. For example, when we were working on the relaunch of Industrie and further developing our brand in our own little niche, we looked to several examples of people who had developed similar products, styles, and offerings that we wanted to. They weren’t exactly what we wanted to be, but it was in the same vein and we could start to pull apart what we liked and didn’t from these examples.
Now, I feel like I need to point out that there is a difference between being inspired by someone else’s work and ripping off of it completely. We are not encouraging the latter. You will never be able to exactly replicate someone else’s brand and you shouldn’t try to. Especially for the purposes of a niche brand, the whole point is that it’s unique. That’s what will encourage your loyal “fan” base.
- List five examples of brands/businesses that you admire. If they are brick & mortar, describe them below. If they are online, include links.
- Go to Pinterest. Create a “Branding Research” board (and pin this article!). Now, do a search for your niche + the word “branding.” So, for example: “Vintage Pinup Branding” will get you some really fun visuals and inspirations. Pin. Pin everything. PIN. IT. ALL.
- Start thinking about your favorite color(s) that would fit well with your new niche and search for palettes. Choose a wide variety, you can always whittle it down later.
- Same thing with fonts and imagery. Save (via Pinterest or a binder or moodboard or however you choose) all of the ones that catch your eye.
The most important part of any niche brand is its story. This is where you explain your brand to your potential clients and tell them why they should want to be a part of what you are doing. We go into this in great depth on our About page. It’s important. Whether you have a website or not, even if you have no digital presence what-so-ever (it hurt my heart to write that sentence), your brand story is important. You could have it framed on your salon wall, printed on cards by the front desk and on every station, and in some form on all of your marketing communications (for this, you may want to whittle down a shorter version).
- Write your brand story. This is who/what you are, what you do, how you got there. Basically, what you are all about.
- Think about why you decided to take you brand in this direction. Write this down as well.
- Revisit the examples that you pinned or saved. For each one, write what you like about it—specifically—and what you would change.
- Run your story past a few loyal clients, as well as a handful of people that match the type of client that you would like to attract. Make note of their feedback.
From here, you have all of the information that you will need to start the niche branding journey. You will be armed with the basics: a clear brand story/vision, a curated selection of fonts and colors to work with, and the invaluable feedback of the clients that you want to keep and attract. You are ready, my friend. You can feel confident heading into the finer frays of logo building, decorating and creating marketing campaigns and assets, working from a solid foundation. Just remember that the most important rule of creating a niche brand is to love it. If you don’t feel it in your bones, it’s not finished yet.
Having a tough time finding your niche? Let’s start with finding your passion. Sign up for our free 10-day email course below.