Redesigning Without Losing Your Brand’s Identity

Whether it’s a business that needs to redesign part of its identity because of operational concerns, or because of the simple desire to keep up with changing times and create a more modern look, altering an integral part of the brand is never an easy task.

It’s a careful science that when done incorrectly, could change the future of that business forever. Throughout the process of a company redesign, the singular most important focus should be to stay true to recognizable and core branding elements that first built the company.

If you’re in the process of a redesign or beginning to consider the idea, the below guidelines will explain the steps in which to take first, what questions you should be asking, and how a redesign can benefit a growing brand. Take a look at the top reasons franchises like Snip-its, an innovative child-focused salon and entertainment concept founded in 1995, decided to make the big move towards a system-wide redesign.

  1. Cost: Minimize the investment to increase the timeline to break even
  2. Functionality: Design the space to deliver on the brand promise and improve the work environment
  3. Modernization: Update technology to meet the evolving needs of the customer
  4. Simplify: Reduce the timeline to develop custom-fit décor packages, based on site specifications

Keeping the Brand at the Forefront of Discussion

First and foremost, maintaining branding that holds true to the core values of the business is key. Before starting a redesign project, it’s important to select designers who understand both your business and your brand. For example, Snip-its recently announced a salon redesign initiative that will significantly lower the investment costs for potential franchisees and prior to sourcing outside vendors, Snip-its went straight to the original designers for help. That was a huge success point because these same designers created the branded characters and recognizable theme 20 years ago.

For businesses that don’t have that luxury, it’s important to understand first and foremost what the most important elements of your branding are. For Snip-its, it’s the one-of-a-kind characters that help walk kids through their salon experience (Snips, Curly Comb, Flyer Joe Dryer, etc.) and the welcome arch at the front of the salon. If you’re having trouble deciding what needs to stay and what needs to go, divide your team’s thoughts into two columns:

  • Decide what  features of the brand are foundational
  • Determine what you need to accomplish in the redesign and how to do that by incorporating the answer(s) from above

By following this brainstorm activity, you’re able to communicate to your designers what’s required of the redesign. It’s like building a boundary for what they can do and what they cannot do. For Snip-its, after defining core branding elements, we still knew something had to give because we needed additional retail space, an improved buildout process, and a way to reduce salon maintenance costs. However, even though we needed to complete all of those initiatives in the redesign, we never touched or deviated away from our key branding features.

The Step-by-Step Process of a Redesign

Once you’ve reflected on the brand and decided on goals for the redesign, it’s time to take this project to the next level. The first step is to engage with a select group of franchisees; it’s key in making sure that there’s an extra set of eyes keeping you from deviating away from core branding. Keep in mind, these franchisees have bought into the brand and if corporate is implementing a redesign, they should be able to weigh in, give feedback and provide direction. It’s the franchisors decision to opt into a redesign as long as it’s meant to improve and enhance the business for the right reasons.

In order to compile a group of franchisees for input, start by asking for volunteers. Enlist the first ten people who respond into a redesign committee. Craft a laundry list of questions to ask and hold monthly phone calls to discuss with members. This way, franchisees have a direct hand in creating the new design that will be rolled out system-wide. Be prepared to discuss concerns seen in the workplace that you may not have thought of. For Snip-its, our committee discussions were just as much about updating technology in the salons as they were about updating the design. At Snip-its, we call this “Snip-ification”, or the look and feel of our salon. A strong benefit of interacting with franchisees on this topic is   revealing the ideas and desires of front-line operators.

The next step in the redesign process is to identify vendors that are in tune with the brand and have experience duplicating their support on a multi-unit level. It’s key to form a team of vendors that are able to work together and ultimately deliver a program that is seamless to the franchisee and can accelerate the opening process.

Rolling Out a Redesign System-Wide

New franchisees are going to immediately implement the redesign but what about the franchisees that are already open? Planning ahead is key. Unless your Franchise Disclosure Document outlines the requirements a franchisor can place on franchisees, you won’t have much luck asking your current system to drop tens of thousands of dollars to update each of their salons to the new design. Additionally, most franchisors could not support an entire system update all at once. Your best bet is to give the franchisee the ability to upgrade slowly or retrofit their location in phases. Ultimately, there has to be brand consistency system-wide but the franchisor can collaborate with its franchisees to achieve that goal without creating contention.  At Snip-its we have always tried to create a community collaboration and mutual value with our franchisees and that has served us well during this recent redesign process.  To learn more about Snip-its salon redesign, please visit

Kimberly Ellis is Vice President of Franchise Development for Snip-its. Most recently, Ellis was a senior consultant with MSA Worldwide and provided existing and emerging franchisors expansion and system assessment, sales program development and management, and recruitment marketing strategy. With over 20 years of experience in franchising, Ellis also held executive positions in sales, marketing, and operations for both franchised and non-franchised hair care companies.

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