Brand Development: Set Yourself Apart from the Start

Author Paul Russo counted on this well-lit, branded sign to highlight his Mr. Machine Laundromat’s qualities and key service offerings. (Photo courtesy Paul Russo)

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Brand Development: Set Yourself Apart from the Start (Part 1)

Pointers from Paulie B: Establish a strong identity to attract, retain customers

GLENDALE, Ariz. — In today’s business landscape, brand development plays a pivotal role in setting businesses apart from their competitors. Whether you’re starting a new laundromat or seeking to revamp an existing one, establishing a strong and distinctive brand identity is key to attracting and retaining customers. This is especially true when it comes to multiple locations.

If you plan on opening more than one location, I highly recommend coming up with a catchy name and logo. This will represent your brand.

You need to think past letter-type names like “J & M Laundromat” that are hard for people to remember. Your personal name can instill confidence, however, that a real person is running the show and is proud enough of the mat to display his/her name.

Even if you have one location, it still makes sense to think hard about a great name and logo.

For starters, you never know if, down the road, you’ll change your mind and want to open more locations. Two, even just one location with a strong brand that’s easy for people to remember can bring you customer loyalty if you operate the mat in a quality way.

After all, the hope is you’ll have your brand for many profitable years.

There’s only one scenario in which I believe it’s not wise to develop your brand: if you plan on maintaining a run-down, poor-quality laundromat.

In that case, don’t bother, because your brand will be shunned due to bad experiences. Additionally, having a brand where customers find the same disappointments at other locations will actually work against you.


If you feel as I do, that you want to deliver to the public the best mat you can muster, then your brand can be a nice, profit-making benefit.

It shouldn’t just be about aesthetics. It should be about the entire customer experience.

Focus on providing exceptional service, maintaining cleanliness, and ensuring a comfortable, safe and welcoming environment. Train and incentivize your staff to deliver friendly, top-notch customer service and implement systems to address customer feedback and concerns promptly. 

We all know about what I just suggested. However, your particular customers may also respond positively or negatively to other things that you may not have thought of. You may be able to guess that “not enough seating” is an issue to be solved, for example, but how do you know for sure what else your customers like or dislike? 

Gathering feedback is important to help guide you toward what your customers really want and need, so stop guessing and simply ask them! A good customer survey, whether on paper or online, can really help with this. 


To really develop your brand, your mat must stand out in ways that differentiate it from your competition. I’m talking unique here. What is it about your mat that customers would seek out while passing up others?

It could be that each location has beautiful quartz folding tables, is air-conditioned, or has automatic entrance doors. Maybe it’s having the biggest washers in town, offering high-speed extract that saves time, or showcasing comfortable, roomy layouts.

Can customers find the same easy parking at each location? The same high quality of professional employee service? 

Do your mats offer anything unique in drop-off service, such as sock wrappers, or a unique, pleasant fragrance from their softener?

Whatever things your mats have that make them unique, customers should have the confidence that they will find these desirable attractions at each of your locations.

If you have multiple locations, try your best to deliver the same attractions, the same equipment, and the same level of professionalism in all of them. (This is what many fast food companies do. A Dunkin’ Donuts in New York City will be very similar to a Dunkin’ Donuts in Sacramento.)

This will build trust that customers will be satisfied no matter which of your locations they decide to patronize.

In other words, in order for you to really develop your brand well, there must be consistency of your brand’s unique attractive features throughout all your locations because … consistency builds trust.

I can’t tell you how many times I was able to retain customers who moved away from one of my New York City stores, only to start patronizing another location of mine near their new residence.

Also, if one of your mats goes down temporarily for any reason, customers can be directed to your other locations.

When you have multiple locations using the same name and logo, customers will perceive that you must be doing something good to be opening other locations, and they are right.

Similarly, each time a customer comes to your mat, they should get the same experience that attracted them there in the first place. So, be careful about making too many radical changes without thinking them through first. You may even want to ask what your customers think in another survey, before you go ahead!

Check back Tuesday for the conclusion

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].