"I didn't realize that a huge percentage of motorcyclists have dogs. It really was quite surprising. A lot of kids ask their parents to come in just to see Bella."
Since the staff is on the small side, "every single one of us has 16 hats that we wear throughout the day," Teasdale says. This includes manning the parts counter and mopping the bathroom floor. Teasdale's daughter was recruited to create signs for the store's current Vespa display in the boutique showroom, while her niece Lauren is employed as a salesperson. Teasdale's own extensive background is in retail and management.
"It's kind of a family thing," Teasdale says. "We try to keep the store very friendly, so I guess you can interpret it as a small-town feel."
THE POWER OF BRANDING
The spiky-haired misfit that graces Gear Head-branded merchandise is more than just a pretty cool face. Owners Dan Witmer and Mary Teasdale hope the logo will act as an ambassador for the dealership. "We wanted a little character associated with our name that would identify with the business and be easy for branding. Just as Nike is recognized by the swoosh," Witmer says.
How to go about creating this powerful branding tool? For one, you have to think of your demographic. Who are your customers, and who are you trying to attract? Witmer and Teasdale knew they wanted a fun, edgy logo that would appeal to a wide demographic. Maintaining this youthful vibe was important, considering that the store carries mainly high-end products and brands — merchandise usually reserved for a mature audience or one with a disposable income (or both). "We hope to attract all demographics with this logo," Witmer says. "We wanted a character who was young — a hip "Dennis the Menace" or Bart Simpson type of bad-boy image." The two recruited Witmer's graphic designer brother Paul for the task.
Expect your logo to morph and change as you tweak and test the image until it's just what you're looking for. Gear Head's logo was sent back to the drawing board multiple times before Witmer and Teasdale deemed it just right — for now. "We have tried some different versions of it on stickers, with different sunglasses or with different hair. I'm sure [the logo] will evolve over time to something more simple," Witmer says.
And finally, does the logo accomplish what you want it to? To judge this, turn to the community — your customers — and ask.
"We've had advertising people say that it's a strong logo," Teasdale says. "You never know unless you start getting feedback."
Gear Head is also working on a "Gear Girl" image to appeal to the shop's female demographic.