Brand has become a buzzword associated with tech startups and Silicon Valley, but the truth is your fitness business really needs a brand as well. Before we get to why your fitness business needs a brand, let’s cover what a brand is, exactly.
Brand building used to be the process of coming up with a name, a logo and possibly a slogan. While these three elements are still essential to brand building, they no longer paint the whole picture. A brand is the perception or feeling that a member gets when they think about your business. Brand building now requires an inspiring mission statement, good customer service, reputation, testimonials, a website, differentiation from competitors, etc. Your service can’t be the only thing adding value to people’s lives. Your brand must add value as well.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? Maybe so, but it’s well worth your time. Here are the top five reasons your fitness business needs an established brand.
A good brand must be memorable and improve recognition of your business and product or service. A logo is typically the first phase of recognition – think McDonald’s golden arches – but there are many other components as well. Your services, customer service, results and mission statement all play a part in strong brand recognition. Recognition is integral in differentiating your fitness business from your competitors’, as well as in ensuring referrals are remembered and acted upon.
* To improve recognition make sure your logo is stamped on everything you touch: emails, social media, letters, apparel, etc.
Use your brand to create and fulfill the expectation of trustworthiness, quality and professionalism. Your brand is the first thing people come into contact with, whether they find you on Instagram and peruse your posts, or whether they’re walking down the street and make a snap judgment about your name and logo before entering. In order to create a strong relationship with your members, make sure you create a positive expectation of what their experience will entail.
* To improve expectation, try to get current members to give video or written testimonials speaking to their positive experiences. If people have negative experiences, make sure to address them in a timely manner.
Ensure your brand connects with your members on a physical level, but also on an emotional level. Potential members go where their hearts lead them. If your members are not passionate about your fitness business – beyond it ‘just being a gym’- you will lose them when a competitor is able to fulfill the emotional connection. Use your brand to create meaningful relationships with your members and emphasize how your fitness business can fulfill emotional needs.
* Connection does not mean you will be offering therapy sessions. What connection means is your brand should have your members’ best interests at heart, and to best do that, you should understand what is driving individuals to come to your business. What emotions – past self-esteem, health risks, stress – might be calling them to the gym? Discover these emotions and make your brand’s environment one that recognizes and caters to them.
Your employees are just as important as your members. While it may not be everyone’s first thought when branding, how your employees perceive your business and their happiness at work truly reflects on your brand. Take a look at poorly and top-rated companies on Glassdoor. There is a major correlation between employee happiness and positive ratings, and the success of the company. How your employees feel about your business not only affects whether people will want to apply for jobs at your business in the future, it also reflects the energy and excitement (or lack thereof) that is portrayed to your members. To truly excel, your business should inspire your employees. Create a healthy work environment that both drives employees to do their best while also inspiring them and helping them grow.
* Invest in your employees, and you will see major returns. Invest in training, birthday cards or free coffee. Show your employees you care, and they will return the favor by going above and beyond what you ever thought was possible.
Growth requires maintenance of current members, but also the generation of new members. As hinted at above, a strong brand is necessary in attracting new members. If you appear to be a run of the mill fitness business, you might attract members from the neighborhood out of pure convenience, but you will hit a wall in growth when your brand fails to attract members from a larger radius. Your brand needs to inspire your current members to rave about your business, but it also needs to inspire new members even without a referral. Ensure your brand stands out from your competitors and that it resonates with potential members on a deeper level than ‘oh, they have treadmills, that’s great’.
* Show current and potential members what makes you special. Don’t hide your unique aspects behind a closed door. Stand out from your competitors from the get go. Maybe offer a free massage on a member’s birthday. Show current and potential members that you care; that your fitness business is special.
Interested in learning more about developing a strong brand and marketing strategy for your fitness business? Get your copy of our free 10-Step Marketing Guide for Gyms.