Look better. Feel better.

by Richard C. Stimac

Barber pole, ca. 1938. Before barbers limited ...

Barber pole, ca. 1938. Before barbers limited themselves to cutting hair and shaving beards, they performed surgery. Since the 1700s, the spiraling red and white stripes of the barber pole have symbolized the blood and bandages that were once part of the barber’s trade. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A barbershop that I went to as a kid had the words, “Look Better. Feel Better.” on the barber pole out front. Jesse the barber had cut hair for over fifty-years. There’s some truth to what Jesse posted on his sign, both for individuals and for businesses.

Jesse understood that a new hair style, a new outfit, a new look does affect not only how one is treated, but also how one feels. In business speak, we’re talking about branding.

Small to medium sized businesses struggle with branding the most. They often have hard-working owners who understand the business model, but don’t have the marketing savvy to create an effective image. Also, they lack the resources for professional marketing help.

Just as for people, first impressions count for companies, and if subsequent impressions reinforce that first impression, a brand is born and strengthened. In econ speak, with a strong brand, be it personal or company, the risk that “what you see is what you get” is lowered. When we see a McDonald’s sign, we know what we are going to get at the restaurant, even if we choose not to buy.

Notice, I’m not saying that a brand has to be a certain way, have a certain message, and so on. I’m only saying that a brand lets the world know who you or your company are. Better yet, it lets you and your employees know who you are.

Jesse understood that. The fashionistas understand that. Business owners need to understand that, too.