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Sara Viklund of Saratonin Haircare: Five Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand

Benefit people who work with you and choose your partnerships wisely. Who you choose to do business with is a huge indicator of trust and brand identity. The brands and influencers you associate with are a direct reflection of your own brand so I would be conscious of who you choose to collaborate with. Repetition of brand name and purpose is always also a great way to ‘stick’ around in people’s lives and become a go to brand and household name.

As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Viklund, CEO and founder of Saratonin haircare. Saratonin is a plant-based haircare line that is 100% cruelty-free and made in the US. As the name suggests — Saratonin is all about feeling your best.

‘"This is a brand that cares about how you look and how you feel. To me the word beauty has so many layers, I wanted to create a brand that reflects expression, inclusion and wellbeing"


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

After working as a hairstylist around the world for over a decade, I wanted to create a product line that was beneficial to both hairstylists and clients. I have worked with so many brands in the past that have huge profit margins in their sales but do not share even a fraction of the profits with the stylist that is selling their products. I really want to give back to other fellow hair stylists that work with my haircare line and give them a chance to benefit fairly by promoting and selling Saratonin haircare.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I had a few other names for my product line initially. I always run my ideas and suggestions by a variety of different types of people that I know and trust so I can gather feedback from different angles. Well, one of my suggestions for the brand name was ‘redo’ — redo means ready in Swedish which is my native language. One of my good friends, Mike O’day pointed out immediately that there is a negative correlation with that name of having to redo something. While my mind was more focused on the fact of being able to reshape hair.

Looking back, I am so happy I chose the name Saratonin which in-fact one of my other friends Christie Clements helped me with. She is an amazing comedian and pun artist and the lesson here I believe is to listen to feedback and try to navigate and be open to changing your mind and actions accordingly, even if you have your mind set on something different from the start.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I am very adamant about the fact that these are gender neutral products. Everyone in a household can use Saratonin and the products can be used in different ways for different people, regardless of gender identity, age, or texture of hair. Saratonin haircare stands out esthetically because of its simplicity in logo and design- It reflects sincerity and I believe it is memorable in an ocean of overly decorated hair products. Using essential oils and plant-based ingredients is also something that makes the brand stand out.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am working on a project I named ‘Saratonin for stylists. A program that allows independent stylists to make more money by selling our products. I want to give them more than double the margins other big brands give salons and stylists that sell their products. This will allow them to be more independent and valued for the work they do. Being a hairstylist myself and running this product line, I can make decisions like this that give back to my community and fellow craftsmen. I am also always working and collaborating with causes I believe in. Like giving free products for raffles and good causes when I can. The last one I contributed to with products was for the Stonewall Inn as they had a show organized by the talented nail artist and photographer Gunner Strietzel, in efforts to get back on their feet post pandemic shutdown. I collaborate and donate to brands that stand for equality, inclusivity and that resonate with my values.

Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

When it comes to branding, The Saratonin logo is simple and memorable. The tag line ‘feel your best’ is important to me on my labels because the beauty industry should not only be about how you look. My products are also all made in the US, with plant-based ingredients and they are 100% cruelty- free. Saratonin haircare is uncomplicated and it is for everyone. We try to keep the ingredients to a minimum and the goal is to provide function and wellness in each product. Keeping it simple and clean has been a huge part of my branding identity for Saratonin haircare.

When it comes to product marketing, I use social media as a platform to create awareness and promote pictures of my products being used by different people with different textures of hair. I like to write captions that explain what the benefits of the essential oils are so people know what they are buying and why. I want to make sure I am representing people from all cultures and lifestyles. The best combination to me is strong branding with a broad and flexible reach when it comes to marketing strategies and advertising.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

I believe it is important for any business owner to have a strong set of values when it comes to what they believe in, who they are and the example they want to set in the world. To me branding should be strongly associated with the character and intention of your brand. I think building your brand and community around values should be the foundation of any business. Things can change along the way when it comes to product development and expansion, however, the brands core values and beliefs should remain the same. That is why I think it is important to know what you are trying to contribute to the world before starting any business.

Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.

Be passionate about what you are offering. Whatever you are trying to do, if you are not a thousand percent convinced that you have something to offer the world in whatever industry it may be- no one else will want it either. Even if the idea or product is phenomenal. If you trust yourself others will want to try and buy your product or service.

Keep the core values and beliefs of your company strong and stable. Product development and strategies can change, but the culture of the company should remain the same and steady for continued following and credibility. Also, I have seen a lot of brands putting other competitors down in order to pitch why their brand is better. I do not like that approach at all, I think it makes the brand look bad to the consumer and I always wonder how the culture of that company can be healthy and successful. If your product is the best, there is no need to be advertising flaws in other brands.

Be an industry professional! I cannot stress this enough. I personally do not want to purchase something from a famous person that has no idea what they are promoting just because they are promoting it to get paid. I would never start a haircare line unless I had more than a decade of global experience working with a countless number of brands and dealing with hair of all textures. I know my industry and I know hair. Therefore, I am a trustworthy industry professional.

Benefit people who work with you and choose your partnerships wisely. Who you choose to do business with is a huge indicator of trust and brand identity. The brands and influencers you associate with are a direct reflection of your own brand so I would be conscious of who you choose to collaborate with. Repetition of brand name and purpose is always also a great way to ‘stick’ around in people’s lives and become a go to brand and household name.

Market research is important but also to understand who you are taking advice from and why. Be open to opinions but be confident in your direction. Some of the best advice I got from my friend Mike was to go slowly and in the right direction. If you move too fast doing the wrong thing- you just end up with a big mess.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Being a small business owner myself, I do look to big corporations and larger scale companies for interesting strategies however one person that I find super impressive is Marta Grutka. She is a global Brand consultant and mentor. What I love about her approach is she has worked for so many big companies, but she also does a great job coaching individuals with small companies like myself. For instance, during this time of starting my own business she has gotten on calls with me all the way from Singapore and guided me and helped me realize and figure out a map both strategically and emotionally for my business to thrive. What impresses me about her work and brand identity is that she practices self-development and sets an example of her own lifestyle in reflection to the services she offers.

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?

To me it is different. I believe that the core structure in a company should be brand building, and that having a strong brand eventually generates large scale sales due to strong identity. Sales can be pushed and increased through a variety of efforts such as promotions, gift packages, and other advertising efforts. I believe the success of a brand building campaign is measured in how people respond positively and react. If you are getting the audience attention from the target market for your brand.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

It plays a huge role. Being consistent and innovative in my social media platforms is of extreme importance. I try to make sure my company’s Instagram and Facebook page posts multiple times a week, it reminds people of the products and how they can use them. Also, a lot of sales come through Instagram and the shopping options for people to click on through that platform.

What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

I think that is such a good question, because being an entrepreneur and juggling so many different roles can quickly lead to complete burnout. One of my strategies is to treat sleep and rest with the same importance as a ‘meeting’ or a scheduled affair. Also, it is so important to make time for hobbies and things that have nothing to do with the business. I like to paint, or just hang out with friends and talk about things that do not always have to be work. Creating space for you mind to unwind and not be constantly engaged is the key to being focused when your company needs it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 😄

It would be to support and give back to my industry. Make sure stylists can be more independent and make more money selling my products. Giving creatives a broader platform to expand via various sources of income while making people feel good and beautiful is something that motivates me a lot.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” - Albert Einstein

I am reminded of this quote every day as I keep learning. I think it is a wonderful thing to imagine the life you want to live and to stay focused on your goals while being flexible about your methods in getting there.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.😄

Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx is such an inspirational female entrepreneur. I just love her story and how she went for it. I believe she would have amazing advice and a lot of interesting things to say about her own personal journey and what we can learn from it.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook @Saratoninhaircare

Instagram @Saratoninhaircare

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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