Palm Beach Tan

Rebranding for relevance: How to break free from leading with price

Learn how we helped this retail brand escape the sea of sameness.

Your established brand is adrift in a sea of category sameness. How do you make a wave that carries you over your competitors’ heads and expands your customer base?

Despite the strength of your retail brand, your differentiating points get lost in a sea of sameness. Leading with price provides a quick uptick — and then a couple of competitors follow suit, and the cycle repeats. With nothing to latch onto beyond price, customers won’t form strong loyalty or feel the need to recommend your brand.

Rebranding to see a brand in a new light

Palm Beach Tan has become a cornerstone of our retail portfolio. PBT is the nation’s largest indoor tanning salon brand, and we’ve helped fuel its growth from 40 salons in four markets to 550 in 92 markets. In the early 2010s, though, PBT faced multiple challenges. Rapidly changing beauty trends shifted the public perception of tanning. At the same time, discretionary spending decreased among core audiences.

With these shifts, all tanning salon brands found themselves competing for a smaller pool of potential customers. For the most part, potential customers saw no differences among salon brands in general or tanning beds in particular. And so leading with price became a category norm.

Approach and methodology 

We determined that rebranding would provide the most short- and long-term value for PBT. To get back on course, PBT needed a larger share of the market — particularly younger tanners, noticeably lacking in the existing customer base.

Goals for this comprehensive rebrand included:

  • Addressing beauty and fashion trends
  • Attracting new customers and anchoring devotees
  • Transforming PBT into a brand that builds emotional connections

We used our branding methodology to uncover consumer, category, cultural and brand insights, drawing inspiration for brand strategy from where those insights overlapped.

Insights

  • Consumer Truth

    Tanners feel that tanning improves appearance, boosts self-confidence

  • Cultural Truth

    Changing cultural attitudes about tanning, desire for a subtler tanning effect

  • Category Truth

    Perceived parity; a tanning bed is a tanning bed; no brand differentiation

  • Brand Truth

    In the trap of leading with price, communicate only functional benefits

  • Brand Idea

    “See yourself in a new light”

As a multi-unit franchisee retail brand, PBT technically has three audiences: customers, corporate and franchisees. For the PBT rebrand to succeed among customers, we needed corporate and the franchisees to champion the new brand and help bring it to life. We involved these non-customer audiences throughout the process to build emotional resonance from the inside out.

PBT Billboard - After
PBT Billboard - Before
We helped PBT differentiate itself from competitors by highlighting people, not prices. We moved the brand away from tanning clichés with more natural photography, better design and emotional relevance to make the brand distinctive and appealing.

Charting a smoother, more comprehensive course

This brand relaunch improved business metrics and attitudes, successfully reestablishing Palm Beach Tan as the undisputed category leader.

Overall, the brand has experienced a steady upward trajectory in average spend per member, member lifetime value, membership base, retail sales, member win-backs and other key metrics.

The new campaign has also improved customer sentiment, emotional resonance and brand health measures. Emotional connections to the brand such as “Makes me feel more confident” and “Tanning is like a cosmetic to me” have experienced double-digit improvement, while “Concerns of overdoing it” has decreased dramatically.

The rebrand continues to evolve and differentiate PBT from traditional and category-adjacent competitors, expand the loyal and enthusiastic customer base across a broader age range, and raise the brand profile across channels. A solid pre-pandemic footing also means that the brand has seen a strong business rebound, positioning Palm Beach Tan for continued success.

Let’s build something brand-new

How can we put our insight and creativity to work for your retail brand refresh, revamp or complete rebuild? Talk with us about your brand’s current state and our deep bench of multi-unit franchise brand experts.