Originally published on LeadershipNow
OVER THE PAST FEW DECADES, we’ve seen several examples of “brand renegades.” These are the industry disruptors who have changed how business is conducted in distinctly powerful ways. Think how Uber transformed the transportation industry, how Airbnb took over the lodging industry — not to mention how Tesla is upending both the automobile and energy industries.
A brand renegade makes huge changes that everyone else turns their heads to notice. The successful brand renegade has staying power and causes others to ask, “What are they doing, and how can we do it, too?”
Our business, Club Tattoo, has disrupted the tattoo and piercing industry. As we built our business, we realized that we had a unique opportunity to reset common perceptions of the industry and take our brand to a national level. To do that, we had to lean into a “brand renegade” mindset and apply it to our daily operations. With each decision, we asked ourselves what’s the best way to do something and could we make it even better. “How it’s always been done” was never our standard.
Today, Club Tattoo is a multimillion-dollar business empire with its Club Tattoo luxury studios. Our success lies in our willingness to take bold action, to take calculated risks, and to conduct business in a completely different way. We didn’t care that “it’s never been done before.” Instead, we focused on our brand and how to flip the script on growing a business.
We prioritized how to move the industry forward as a more mainstream, P&L-focused business. We updated health and safety procedures, employed technology to streamline billing and appointment scheduling, digitized our designs, added retail elements, and provided respectable wages for our artists and employees to let them know their importance to the business. Some of these considerations are fairly commonplace in other industries, but they didn’t exist within our industry and were massively disruptive.
Here are some additional ways that we elevated our brand above the fray. Use them to generate value within your brand.
1. Invest in first impressions. We designed our studios to look like high-end retail stores, such as Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana. As soon as prospective customers walked into one of our studios, they gained a sense of confidence in our brand. Clients felt reassured by the high-quality look and feel of the establishments. No one in our industry before us had designed tattoo and piercing studios to look like high-end jewelry stores or art galleries. It was truly a game-changer.
2. Invest in the customer experience. We wanted to create the ultimate client experience, from the moment the client walked into our studio and saw how beautiful and comfortable it was to the point when the client looked in the mirror at his or her finished tattoo or piercing. We were creating a differentiating experience for each client. We knew that if someone getting a tattoo or piercing from Club Tattoo had an impression of our brand that held value beyond the actual tattoo or piercing itself, then we could create lifelong brand supporters.
3. Invest in hiring the right people. Our end goal was to hire not only the artist and body piercer with the most talent but someone who understood and could adapt to our company culture. This may seem like an easy requirement for today’s workplace, but in the tattoo and piercing industry, it was a relatively unknown concept. The idea of curated customer experiences was something that had to be taught, and we chose candidates who wanted to learn and improve their careers.
4. Invest in strategic partnerships. As Club Tattoo became established, other well-known brands approached us to collaborate on products in which we could add the “cool factor.” For example, Bicycle, the world’s leading manufacturer of playing cards, produced Club Tattoo decks of cards with tattoo designs that were picked up by Walmart, Target, Walgreens, and other large retailers. Similarly, Oster partnered with us to use tattoo art on its hair clipper line, and it quickly sold more than 40,000 at a hair show in Las Vegas. These and other partnerships added value to both parties’ brands and gave Club Tattoo global exposure.
5. Create a mission statement that goes beyond the basics. Instead of “here’s who we are and what we do,” our mission statement speaks to the brand identity we’re cultivating. We’ve used it as a value touchpoint for our customers, staff, and strategic partners. It shares the ways in which we stand above the rest:
Club Tattoo has redefined the luxury tattoo and piercing industry by creating a viable lifestyle that reaches a wide audience but maintains a core value system that is innovative and has set a new standard for the tattoo and piercing industry.
We have pioneered a level of sterility, cleanliness, and professionalism that is unique in the tattoo and body piercing industry that appeals to a wider variety of customers.
We pride ourselves on being the utmost discerning when choosing tattoo artists and professional body piercers to represent our brand and maintain the integrity of quality and professionalism needed to meet the demand of a mainstream audience.
Our primary goal is to ensure that our customers have a safe, enjoyable, comfortable, and hopefully life-changing experience while getting a permanent piece of body art, body piercing, or simply dabbling our lifestyle by purchasing unique fashion or jewelry that we offer as part of the Club Tattoo experience.
There is something for everyone at Club Tattoo!
A visit to Club Tattoo will create a lasting impression on the idea of body art and set a new standard for what you should expect when seeking it.