Building a Brand 101 in Fitness

What should you name your fitness class, studio, live streaming program or product?

Building a Brand 101

In fitness we are always faced with the decision of which brand to attach ourselves to versus creating our own. There’s also the option to simply work with an established commoditized idea without any branding at all.  Examples of all three look like this; “I teach Barre Above”, “I teach Tricia’s Barre” or “I teach Barre” – All three of these describe something similar but will all have a different effect on  your business model. Understanding your “why” when deciding which brand direction to choose is very important for building your following and future business. All three can work but there are certainly upsides and downsides to all of them. Let’s look at all three.

Because barre is my  wheelhouse, I will use it as the example as we analyze the different pros and cons.  This process of evaluation works for almost any fitness concept from a HIIT class to website design.

First: Personalized Brand – Tricia’s Barre Workout

Let’s say you began teaching a few years back and you immediately realized that your personal connection with your members or students was one of your true gifts. Your students are drawn to you, they love what you offer, and they are willing to trust you personally. Your brand has now become YOU, the person as well as the services your offer. You have created a circumstance where you decide you can tie your name to the business brand.

Upsides!

  • People who love you and who are your biggest fans, will love this. There’s an incredible podcast by Tim Ferris called 1000 True Fans which really helps you see the value of serving and inspiring them to be your early adopters and voices for the growth of your business.    https://tim.blog/tag/1000-true-fans/
  • This brand will be exclusive to you and your students will feel as though your workouts can only be found through you so they may be willing to pay a premium.

Downsides!

  • It’s hard to expand your business if your name is attached to it. What if you need subs or want to add more classes or build more studios/clubs?
  • For the same reason your name could bring them in, it can also keep them away. Let’s be honest I’m not everyone’s cup of tea so anyone who doesn’t like me, likely won’t walk into Tricia’s Barre Studio. 
  • It’s extraordinarily hard to franchise or scale a business with an individual’s name attached.

Second: Commoditized Idea – I teach Barre Classes

Years ago, when barre first moved into major markets other than New York and LA, the high-end franchises were dominating the scene. Our group fitness director, Danielle Sharp, at the time wisely decided to simply offer “Barre” classes and for a lower price than all of the high-end brands and the commodity shopper came in by the hundreds. She understood how important it is to recognize how valuable the commodity shopper is. Many luxury brands sell high end products but make their money in their commoditized sales pathways. The club, Community Fitness – Seattle WA had immediate success and packed classes. Many billion- dollar product and sales companies have made their margin in awesome generic products.

Upsides!

  • Inexpensive because there are zero branding expenses associated.
  • You can reach a larger audience and make fitness more affordable for larger markets of people.
  • Your investment costs are minimal.

Downsides!

You have to create a great experience and hire the best staff; you have to create an experience consumers will brag about being a part of.  Think about how often you might brag about hitting “Target”.  This is no easy feat but it’s possible especially if there are tons of high-end brands in your area.

Third: Brand Connected – “I teach Barre Above”

Upsides!

  • Perceived status and social signaling occurs naturally when we associate ourselves with a high-end brand. When you have a well-known brand on your schedule or even a highly recognized certification like ACE next to your name there is a perceived social status from your customers. Think about when you see a house with a Tesla in the driveway, you immediately perceive them as a home of means even if that’s not the case.
  • Members of any facility feel comfort with well- known brands. The familiarity can often times drive them into your facility or even specifically into classes.
  • There’s also higher perceived value with high end brands. If I spend more I am getting more. Not necessarily the facts but perception can often be a person’s reality.

Downsides!

  • If you have a high-end brand and you make a mistake, it goes viral.  A herculean effort to protect your brand. If one person doesn’t like your brand, they can really make their mark with this new technology age.
  • Collateral is very expensive to produce between logo, website, marketing, trademark, etc.

It’s more important than ever to process the decisions we make when it comes to deciding how to brand our classes and services or even facilities.  Try to look at the positives and negative and think through your long-term plans.

Tricia Madden, Co-Creator of Barre Above, Founder of Homeroom Fit and Award winning industry speaker.

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