Marketing & Promotions

What’s in a Name?

How you name your business can pave the way for how successful you become. So choosing wisely is important. Find out from the experts exactly how to go about it.

When naming, or in certain cases renaming, a salon, there are key marketing aspects all owners should consider, as well as several no-no’s to avoid. We’ve spoken to three branding and marketing experts who discuss best practices for naming your salon.


Start at the Start

Marjorie Yarrow, owner of A Little Piece of Marketing, encourages owners to start by answering some very basic questions about the salon in order to develop a specific salon brand. These questions include: What are the services and/or products I’m offering? Who is my target consumer? What company image am I trying to convey? Once you have those questions answered, you can come up with some targeted brand ideas.

“Naming your business is much like building a load-bearing wall: If it is poorly constructed the entire building may come crumbling down,” Yarrow says. “Make sure you have chosen a name that strongly represents you and your business and that can stand the test of time. Solid framework and planning are key.”

Shannon Shapiro, the product manager of global marketing for cosmetics company Algenist, expands on this, saying that owners must convey the benefit of their salon. “It’s important that a salon name immediately tells the potential customer what she will get from visiting the salon or using a product,” she states. “In an incredibly competitive industry, conveying the benefit right off the bat leaves no doubt in a consumer’s mind.”

Owners must also establish credibility early on, says Shapiro: “When you are just starting out, it’s important to have a brand that establishes you as a credible authority in your business. Customers should feel like you are the expert and they can trust you.” If a new owner has years of experience as a professional in the nail world, he or she should make sure to emphasize that.


Stay Unique and Simple

When in doubt, Shapiro encourages salon owners to make up a brand new name. After years of trying to trademark new brand and franchise names, she has had to battle with legal departments over what can be trademarked. The best advice she was given, she explains, was that the most foolproof way to never be copied and to ensure brand identity is to just make up a name. An example is combining two words that have some personal or business connection.

Jenna Arak, writer and professional digital marketer, advocates for keeping the name short, obvious, and easy to spell. This is valuable for several reasons: first, people just naturally have short attention spans. They’re not going to pay attention to you long enough to listen to a name that’s more than a couple of words. Secondly, keeping your ­business name shorter and easy to spell will prove useful for your website URL and social media handles. Pick a name that’s as easy as possible for people to search for online.

Plus, as with all things business, the customer comes first. Arak says, “Of course, there’s marketing value in being clever, but I advocate for clear over clever any day. Think about what you want your business name to communicate to those customers, then communicate that. Your future customers shouldn’t wonder what it is that you do and what it is that you offer them. It should be clear from the get-go, so there are fewer barriers to literal entry as you work to get them through the door.”

Yarrow explains that having a memorable name that stands out in a crowd sparks the interest of the consumer to seek out more information about the business. Plus, it helps when customers are able to easily pull your name from memory. Getting lost in the crowd can inhibit business growth. Shapiro says the goal is to be new, different, and better. It’s important to look at the competition of course, but don’t copy them. You want to raise the bar.

Yarrow also says to be wary of names with negative connotations, or that are so obscure the audience doesn’t get it. The first impression a customer gets is the ­business name, so having one that can come off negatively or that goes over the heads of the target consumer will not entice them to seek out further information. That ­business is lost before someone even walks in your door.


Don’t Be Afraid to Try a Few Times

According to Arak, testing your choices might be wise. If you can, narrow your list of name options down to two or three and then take them for a test drive. Before you buy that URL or hang the shingle on your door, confirm that your choices aren’t trademarked, read the names aloud, then do a little consumer research — ask friends, family, and strangers alike what they think of your choices. Is it clear what you do? Does the name stand out from other nail salons? Would they visit yours based on the name alone?

Yarrow explains that in marketing, there is one golden rule: If you fail, try, try again. Don’t be afraid to change your business name if it isn’t working for you. A common mistake is being too set on a name and refusing to change something that might be hindering you. If this is the case, consider making a change for the better.


Hello, My Name Is…

We asked salon owners: How did you come up with your name?


<p>Tran Wills wanted her salon and brand to focus on doing simple things extremely well. She chose Base Coat because beautiful nails start with a healthy base coat.</p>

Tran Wills, Base Coat Nail Salon, Denver:

The name Base Coat was inspired by the philosophy of the business and brand: Do simple things extremely well. A beautiful set of nails starts with a healthy base coat. That is the foundation of our business and also the inspiration behind the two X’s in our logo: 10 fingers and 10 toes — XX. We expect every set of nails that walks out the door to be flawless. We also demand the same of our staff, vendors, and products. By stripping everything down to its raw essence we are able to deliver on the promise that the time people spend with us is the most relaxing part of their day.

 <p>Meghann Rosales named her individually owned business Nails Y&rsquo;all as homage to Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn.</p>

Meghann Rosales, Nails Y’all, Austin, Texas:

Nails Y’all is my homage to Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. I live and work in Austin, Texas, and what could be more quintessentially Texan than incorporating my home state’s favorite contraction? While I love the name, it confuses a lot of people who see the plural “y’all” and think there must be a whole bunch of us. Nails Y’all is actually only me.

 <p>Chi means life energy in Chinese culture and Fawn Ton wanted to create a positive environment, forming continuous relationships with clients to promote better Chi in both customer and owner&rsquo;s lives.</p>

Fawn Ton, Chi Nail Bar & Organic Spa, Beverly Hills, Calif.:

When I decided to open Chi, I wanted a name to reflect the influences I had in my life. My grandfather was a Chinese traditional medicine doctor and as a little kid I would help him pack herbs for his patients and watch him use natural ingredients and herbs for remedies for common illnesses practiced in Chinese medicine. As a teenager I spent most of my summers and after school at my mother’s nail salons. When I opened Chi, I was able to combine the benefits of Chinese beauty and health treatments with my many years of experience in nail care.

Chi means life energy in Chinese culture. It is the force that allows us to live and thrive. In the beauty industry we try to create a positive environment, forming continuous relationships with our clients to promote better Chi in both our lives.

However, because Chi is so meaningful and has become very popular and is used in names of many different types of businesses, it can be confusingly similar. Because of confusing similarities, I am in the middle of a trademark lawsuit. Being involved in a lawsuit is never good and a long stressful waiting game.

<p>The name Hey, Nice Nails started out as a joke when naming a blog, but it&rsquo;s become so catchy that the owners are working to trademark it.</p>

Donne and Ginny Geer, Hey, Nice Nails, Long Beach, Calif.:

It all started as a joke. We were starting our blog and we wanted a catchy name. We thought “Hey, Those Are Nice Nails,” but it was too long so we shortened it. It seems to be very catchy. When people say “Hey nice nails” to our customers, they respond, “That’s where I got them done!”

After we opened our salon we discovered there is a Hey! Nice Nails in Canada. There has been some confusion from customers with the other salon asking for nail art that we’ve created. We’ve been in the process of trademarking the name. It’s kind of a long process, but we’re doing it just in case we want a product or to fully brand ourselves. We have to cover our bases.

<p>Very Polished decided to broaden its clientele by making the name inviting to all age groups.</p>

Lannetta Hay and Anjaneth Aguirre: Very Polished, Brooklyn, N.Y.:

Before Very Polished was born we were “Fairy Polished,” catering to children at private events. Then we decided to broaden our clientele and make it inviting to all age groups. We didn’t want just any name. We wanted something that was self-explanatory for everything that we did from appearance to the finished products and services. The word “very” means: “extremely, exceedingly, exceptionally,” and the word “polished” means: “shiny, glossy, gleaming, lustrous, glassy.” With that, Very Polished was born.

 <p>Enamel Diction is dedicated to the brave, the individual, and the obscure self-expression of nails.</p>

Mariana Stanciu, Enamel Diction, Los Angeles:

Enamel Diction is centered around positive self-expression and individuality, featuring cutting wit, obscure pop culture references, and taking color psychology to new heights (and lows). How we choose to express ourselves says a lot about us. Because nail polish is easily adaptable it allows customers to express color choices through nonverbal communication. The name Enamel Diction fuses this notion through the vehicle of nail polish and articulation — your diction. Enamel Diction is dedicated to the brave, the individual, and the obscure. “What does our nail enamel really say about us; is the diction just fiction?”

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