Branding, Social, packaging
Trust is essential in cementing the sacred bond between barber and client — Dirtbag Barbers centre themselves around this fact.
A combination of traditional iconography and lavish aesthetic helped this newcomer stand out during the ‘barbershop boom’. A bold black and gold colour scheme exemplified the higher-end experience offered, while the name extended a provocative curiosity. An exclusive sense of belonging was established through the laid-back and loose-lipped environment, supplemented through loyalty programs and branded merchandise.
As the ballooning barbershop renaissance appears to expand by the day, new businesses saturate the market with little to distinguish between them. Dirtbag Barbers comes into this rough market looking for a point of difference, which is essential considering they are to occupy a space within walking distance of 6 other barbershops.
As the dedicated designer for this project, I worked with owners Trent Stevenson and Matt Wells to help materialise their vision. Through initial market research and development, I helped to produce a visual identity which would transfer to merchandise and printed materials. During early stages of launch, I also produced regular content and managed their social media accounts.
The first consideration was location. Lower Hutt is a relatively modest city of 150,000 people, semi-detached from the nation’s capital city. Competition would be largely isolated because of this, dissuading Wellington-based offerings from entering the market. Research revealed a lack of variety in Lower Hutt, especially high-end offerings. Research also suggested the build location, being right beside the city mall, could fill a particular void for people who unwillingly get dragged along to the mall by their partners and need an excuse to momentarily escape. As there was already a barber inside the mall, and two more in the immediate vicinity, it was essential to create a point of difference. Competitor analysis identified unique attributes which could be employed:
Customer profiles were created with the following characteristics:
Persona 1 - Nick, a 28 year old male living with his partner. Nick is a young professional with an interest in sports and enjoys catching up with friends, although life is busy and he doesn’t get to see them as much as he would like. His regular barbershop is the generic local business, where he goes out of convenience but doesn’t go as often as his partner would like. Him and his partner seldom spend time apart, which creates some friction. If there was a barbershop that was conveniently placed and offered an accomodating environment rather than just a service, he would be willing to spend more for this.
Persona 2 - John, a 21 year old single male. He is fashion-savvy, social and in the dating game. He is just beginning to settle into a profession and is quite skimp with finances. Despite this, he is still willing to spend more for designer brands and premium services to extend his self-confidence. He will actively seek a barbershop who can provide services of a higher perceived value, and doesn’t mind travelling a bit further to get there. He routinely has his hair done so would prefer a more social environment to make it feel like less of a chore.
Persona 3 - Brian, a 45 year old married male with two children. His life has slowed down since his kids have are growing up and becoming self-sufficient. He now has more time to enjoy simple pleasures but his social life has long been stagnant. His appearance is also becoming harder to maintain and he wants to find a trustworthy looking service, regardless of price. This service would also ideally provide a social atmosphere, and he is able to bring his son in too.
The target was to create a premium experience for men with accomodating qualities. The name ‘Dirtbag Barbers’ was chosen to boldly entice customers through controversy. It would act as a clear call for a relaxed and mischievous environment. Beers would be offered and superior services would be provided, such as razor shaves and hot towels to finish.
With much input from the owners, we created a classic barbershop script logo to maintain familiarity, while an elegant black and gold colour scheme exemplified the high-end nature of the business. A monogram was created as an identifiable mark to place on merchandise, and stacked versions of the logo were produced for situational lockups. We made sure to offer loyalty programs and branded clothing using this branding, as allegiance would be instrumental to the success of the business.
The initial release was well received and gained a lot of traction from notable figures in New Zealand culture. Several All Blacks came through, as well as DJ Snakehips and Jimi Jackson. I took initial photography for social media, as well as creating a video with Johnny Danger, with our aim being to exemplify the tongue-in-cheek approach as he himself is famous for. This fitting collaboration helped to drive traffic. Merchandise sales started poor but improved after changing to Dickies branded clothing.
Credit: Trent Stevenson, Matt Wells, Johnny Bennett, Ron Lio.