Neal Geiger: 25 Years of Creative Leveling Up

In 2004, Neal Geiger, was contracted by Sport Clips Haircuts to provide creative direction for a new TV spot. Always looking for ways the raise the bar in every way, including its marketing, Sport Clips decided to invest in national advertising.  

At the time, Sport Clips was a small brand, but it was rapidly expanding. “Sport Clips was very conscious of what message it was sending. From the beginning, Sport Clips was designed and built from the ground up to be a national brand. Fine-tuning their messaging to be as simple as possible was important,” says Geiger.

After working on the television commercial, Geiger was asked to use his many talents on redesigning the brand’s logo. He recalls, “The type-script was a little reminiscent of the television show 'Cheers’' logo. It was designed to look like an old school baseball team jersey. But the font was hard to read.”

Geiger explains, “The old logo didn’t enlarge well, and it was too long for retail signage. We wanted to make it simpler, something that could be read as you drove down the street or on the hood of a NASCAR race car zooming by.  That is when the more modern iteration of the logo was created.”

In addition to creating Sport Clips' present-day logo, Geiger helped create everything from the brand’s first direct mail program and newspaper inserts to helping direct photoshoots. He explains, “We really honed-in on what differentiates Sport Clips. The MVP Haircut Experience is a brand in and of itself. You can get a haircut anywhere, but you can only get the MVP at Sport Clips.”

He continues, “We really wanted to reframe what was once thought of as just a transaction to an experience where a guy could come in a relax and treat himself.  The MVP is that.”

As the company started to grow, Geiger saw the services and franchise-offering perfected and polished. He says, “We always kept the franchisee in mind. Sport Clips is about helping them succeed, so everything had to be replicable, whether it be the building, the shampoo bowls or the graphics on the wall. It’s all there.”

Geiger adds, “To support this success, the systems, processes and support staff are also in place. Our 'people first' culture and core values mean we always strive to overdeliver. Relationships are important, and you see that exemplified from the stylists to the team leaders to the support staff, and all the way up to the leadership.”

The creative department, headed by Geiger and the brand’s top-notch marketing department, are continually finding ways to elevate the brand’s look and feel and keeping a simple message in front of our audience. In addition to the internal team, the brand works with closely with a Little Rock creative agency that provides an outside perspective and additional resources when developing national marketing campaigns. He says, “We seek out best practices and are always trying to create the most relevant content to bring that to our franchisees. Our innovative use of social media is an example of that commitment to staying ahead of trends.”

Geiger played an instrumental role in the brand’s 2010 store revamp. He says, “We kept the blueprint the same, but we updated the inside of the store. The design was modernized, and we put in bigger televisions. Access to full-color printers opened up new possibilities for in-store graphics. The graphics can also easily changed-out, making future refreshing of a store’s look and feel easy and low cost. What you see now is the result of always seeking out what will bring us to that next level."

Successful marketing and advertising of a brand begins with clear messaging. But it also needs to set it apart from its industry, and Sport Clips does just that.  Key differentiators, such as the unique concept and the signature MVP Haircut Experience are artfully conveyed throughout concise and creative messaging. Geiger has played an instrumental role in creating the effective messaging Sport Clips delivers today, bringing forward thought to the brand as it continues to lead the haircutting industry.

Recently, Geiger worked to complete the first Sport Clips museum. “Preserving our heritage always interested me. I kept and stored original store signage and marketing items in my office for years. Co-workers thought I was a bit eccentric saving all this stuff, cluttering up my office. But, I had a vision. Now, it all has a place where others can enjoy seeing how Sport Clips has evolved over the past 25 years.”

He concludes, “I love seeing visitors faces light up when they recognize a small piece of Sport Clips History - the stories just pour out.  I am hoping that the museum will be guiding light for future caretakers of the Sport Clips brand.  It’s easy to get off track so this is a good reminder of where it all began– “Guys watch Sports. Guys get haircuts.”