Work

Paul Mitchell Schools

A bold new look and social strategy, leveraging the vivid user-generated content of its creative, adventurous audience.

  • Brand Strategy
  • Content Strategy
  • Design
  • Video + Multimedia
  • Campaign Development
  • Market Research
Paul Mitchell Schools header image
Paul Mitchell The School Wichita 2020, Cosmetology alum @ hair.by.kaytj (Instagram)

Challenge

Bold New Social

If a client’s main directive is “we need to be wowed,” what do you create?

Paul Mitchell Advanced Education, one of our longtime clients, wanted to completely revamp its organic social strategy. The nationwide network of more than 100 franchised cosmetology/barbering schools gave us some straightforward but ambitious guidelines: a concept that was new, bold, and sexy; that appealed to the school’s target audience; that leveraged user-generated content (UGC) from Paul Mitchell Schools’ students, teachers, and alum exclusively; and increased national visibility of the Paul Mitchell School franchise brand.

And yes, it had to wow them.

With those guidelines, Ideas Collide developed “Bold & Beautiful,” a smart and daring campaign that blossomed far beyond the client’s social media channels.

  • PHOTO: PAUL MITCHELL THE SCHOOL OGDEN 2019 Cosmetology and barbering alum, @labambabeauty (Instagram)

    PHOTO: PAUL MITCHELL THE SCHOOL OGDEN 2019

    Cosmetology and barbering alum, @labambabeauty (Instagram)
  • PHOTO: PAUL MITCHELL THE SCHOOL WICHITA 2020 Barberalum, @ray316 (Instagram)

    PHOTO: PAUL MITCHELL THE SCHOOL WICHITA 2020

    Barberalum, @ray316 (Instagram)
  • Gemini social post image -

Approach

Content and Communications Strategy Manager Laura Bjerk began with researching brands that resonated with Paul Mitchell Schools’ target audience — Gen Z-ers and younger millennials who follow trends and want to start their next chapter — figuring out which of these brands had effective social strategies.

Style blogs also became an important resource as Bjerk developed our initial strategy.

Meanwhile, she researched TikTok’s trending topics and content consumer reports to determine what Paul Mitchell Schools’ audience was really looking for.

Bjerk then turned to Ideas Collide’s design team. Her initial direction: create social graphics and strategy with unlimited creativity — no restrictions, no guidelines, no wrong answers. What would you do if you had full freedom?

WORKCITEMENT!
Laura Bjerk|Content + Communications Strategy Manager
“I almost went to a cosmetology school — I toured several. I’m essentially the closest on the IC team to what [the client’s] target audience would be.”

Campaign pitch mood boards.
Campaign pitch mood boards.
Campaign pitch mood boards.

Solution

‘Bold & Beautiful’ Comes to Life

Ideas Collide began a deeply collaborative brainstorming process, honing three strategy pitches to impress the client, increase audience engagement, and utilize lots and lots of UGC. From this collaboration, “Bold & Beautiful” was born.

Some of this campaign’s core traits:

  • Monitors and responds quickly to changing trends
  • Mixes vibrant, original graphics with dynamic UGC, making each social post a “scroll-stopper”
  • Employs graphic treatments with simple shapes and big typography set against black backgrounds, so colors stand out while still blending with a phone’s “dark mode”
  • Uses video and animations/illustrations wherever possible, leveraging the increased power and reach of social video content
  • Creates day-to-day continuity (and long-term variety) through a rotating monthly color palette

Simply put, it looks great in a feed and in the grid.

“So the feed itself was going to be very, very beautiful,” said Bjerk. “We were going to work on creating pictures that work together to tell a full story for the month by being the same color, the same aesthetic. But the posts were bold and powerful enough to stand alone if you were just scrolling through your feed. … I want all of them to still perform on their own.”

Paul Mitchell Schools’ Instagram grid before (left) and after (right).

A Unique Opportunity (With a Unique Challenge)

Within the Paul Mitchell network, UGC is an ample resource: Hairstylists, barbers, and makeup artists do visual-based work, and tend to promote it on social channels. This meant Ideas Collide had lots of user content to potentially use. But it also required a uniform strategy for editing these images before reposting.

UGC images “are all kind of edited a little bit differently — some are better quality, some are worse,” explained Nicholas Winter, Ideas Collide’s senior art director.

“So there was a bit of exploration with figuring out how that would work, and finding a filter to use that could be adjusted depending on the quality of the image.”

The majority of this campaign, he estimated, is UGC, “and that’s a completely different strategy than we normally would use.”

Throw in the rotating monthly color palette, and we had our work cut out for us.

  • PHOTO: PAUL MITCHELL THE SCHOOL TEMECULA 2019

    Cosmetology alum, @killinitwithcolor (Instagram)
  • PHOTO: PAUL MITCHELL THE SCHOOL PHOENIX 2020

    Cosmetology alum, @top_shelf.cuts (Instagram)
  • PHOTO: PAUL MITCHELL THE SCHOOL DALLAS 2021

    Cosmetology alum, @rachelshairlab (Instagram)

Results

When Great Ideas Soar

Paul Mitchell Schools loved the “Bold & Beautiful” pitch and asked us to implement it right away. So we hit the ground running. In February 2022, Paul Mitchell Schools began delivering this bold-but-inviting, varied-yet-cohesive, color-coded content to its followers. The results were significant — and immediate.

In that first month, for example, social content reached 25% more accounts and engaged with 102% more accounts that weren’t following Paul Mitchell Schools pages, compared to the previous 30 days.

But the real cherry on top? “Bold & Beautiful” extended itself far beyond social media. Paul Mitchell Schools was so confident in the campaign, they incorporated its aesthetic throughout their website.

“That’s always an honor, when the client loves the work so much that they want to expand it out and build off of it,” Winter said.

Metrics
  • Facebook engagement rate: 46% increase*

  • Twitter engagement rate: 81% increase compared to previous period*

  • Facebook reach: 443% increase compared to previous period*

    *First 90 days

  • Within 7 months, Paul Mitchell Schools’ Instagram account surpassed the 100,000-follower threshold — a first for the company

  • I have to change my hair from its natural state to fit in at the office
  • hair stylist with combs

    PHOTO: PAUL MITCHELL THE SCHOOL WICHITA 2020

    Cosmetology alum, @hair.by.kaytij (Instagram)
  • women's history month post for Paul Mitchell Schools

Takeaways

In a short time, “Bold & Beautiful” revitalized Paul Mitchell Schools’ social presence and breathed new life into their partnership with Ideas Collide. For us, it also exemplified our namesake — ideas colliding through collaboration, research, and hard work — proving the true value of informed content strategy, and showing what dynamic visuals can really accomplish when smart strategy guides them.

“I think it’s a true testament to our strengths and abilities at the agency,” Bjerk recalled, “and that a good strategy backed by real data and research always wins in the end.”

Credits

Client
  • Paul Mitchell Schools
Year Completed
  • 2022
Industries
  • Consumer Brands
  • Education
Services/Disciplines
  • Brand Strategy
  • Content Strategy
  • Design
  • Video + Multimedia
  • Campaign Development
  • Market Research
Links
Project Team
  • Nick Winter
  • Laura Bjerk
  • Aaron Vance
  • Kayla Becton
  • Veronica Gomez

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