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What every fitness studio needs to know about building a profitable brand (and 6 reasons why you should hire help with it)

If you own a fitness studio or are about to open one, building a strong brand is essential for your success.

Whether you’re selling yoga classes or spin, HIIT workouts, gym memberships or any other fitness services, your brand influences how people perceive your business and ultimately, whether or not they purchase from you.

According to recent studies:

  • Brands that inspire a higher emotional intensity receive 3x as much word-of-mouth than less emotionally connected brands (Invesp, 2019)
  • 81% of consumers said that they need to be able to trust the brand to buy from them (Edelman, 2019)
  • 77% of consumers buy from brands who share the same values as they do (HavasGroup, 2019)

In other words, how people feel about a brand significantly influences whether or not they buy. Specifically, the more people trust your brand, the more likely they are to become customers. You might have the best products, services and customer experience in the world, but if what you’re selling is not communicated in a way that evokes an emotional response with who you’re trying to sell to, you’re missing out on tons of customers and revenue. For example, two spin studios might offer identical classes and have the same target audience (let’s say, millennials who love hip hop music), but if only one studio builds a brand that resonates with that audience, that studio will get the majority of the business.

The good news is, how people perceive your brand is largely within your control.

How? Brand perception is created through communication and YOU have the mic! From your website and social media to your studio (brick-and-mortar or virtual), how you communicate your brand is your choice, which means you’re in charge of guiding public sentiment about your business. What tone of language do you use on your website and social media? How about fonts and colours? Do you have a logo? The visual elements of your brand should always align with the perception you’re trying to create. Keep in mind, other elements like website navigation, imagery, video, sounds (and scents, if you’re in-person) all communicate something about your brand as well.

The clearer your communication is about your brand, the more believable your brand will be, which means the more trustworthy your brand will be. And remember, trust is the emotional response we’re trying to build. For example, if you wanted your yoga studio to be thought of as modern and minimalistic, but you had a cluttered website with an unclear checkout process, you would have a hard time convincing people you’re truly modern and minimalistic. Your brand would not be trustworthy. On the other hand, if you wanted people to perceive your personal training brand as rugged and gritty, and you expressed that with dark colours, bold fonts and rough textures, those choices would align with what you’re trying to convey.

Knowing these brand-building choices heavily impact the perception of your fitness business and bottom line, it’s important to choose wisely and never randomly. In order to make smart decisions about your brand, there are three things you need to know:

  1. What you want to achieve with your business. What’s your vision for business? How are you working to achieve your vision (i.e. your mission)? What are your core brand values?
  2. Who your audience is. Who are you helping with your business? Who are you hoping your brand appeals to? What are their interests and challenges?
  3. How to create brand assets. Can you design a logo, build a website and create social media content that effectively delivers the perception you’re aiming for with your brand?

Often, fitness business owners are clear on number one and two, but don’t have the know-how and/or the time for number three. While you might know your fitness business inside and out, building a brand to communicate it effectively is often the biggest challenge for boutique fitness brands. Most fitness entrepreneurs are also already overloaded with more tangible challenges such as dealing with finances, leasing space, managing trainers and staff, perhaps instructing classes themselves, and so on. Branding gets put on the backburner.

Sound like you? Fear not. Just because you can’t go head-to-head with branding yourself, doesn’t mean you should abandon the idea altogether.

If you can’t give your fitness business the branding expertise it needs to thrive, it’s time you consider hiring a professional! Here are six reasons why hiring an expert to develop your fitness business brand is a smart idea (as long as you select the right expert for the job):

1. YOU’LL LOOK LIKE AN EXPERT.

Whether you’re working toward launching your fitness brand or you’re already years deep into fitness business ownership, chances are you’re an expert. But it’s not enough to be one; you need to look like one too. Poor signage, an unusable website, or a weak social media feed can make a bad first impression with potential clients, staff or business partners, which discredits your professionalism and value.

A solid brand helps you position your business as high end and credible with personality traits that will resonate with your target audience. It also helps you attract better instructor talent and it makes marketing your business easier overall.

2. YOU CAN CHARGE MORE.

The aesthetic, function and overall feel of your brand says a lot to your potential customers about your service. If it looks mediocre, people will assume your services are mediocre too. But if your brand looks best in class, onlookers will anticipate you not only know what you’re doing, but that you’re their best choice. When you look premium, people don’t question your price tag. This is not to encourage misleading anyone, but rather, to remind you that if you’re offering a great service, neglecting your branding will undersell it.

The fitness industry is increasingly competitive and ineffective branding can be detrimental. But with a strong brand, and of course a great service to match, your fitness business will be equipped to handle the competition.

3. YOU CAN ATTRACT THE RIGHT CLIENTS.

Without a clear and cohesive brand for your fitness studio, you may have to throw a fairly wide net to attract any clients at all. But with a strong brand in place, your website, social media and other brand assets will help attract your intended customers, gain loyalty and grow your business in the right niche. With better targeting comes more loyal clients who’ll stick with your studio for the long term.

4. You can scale your brand.

Think big. If you hire more staff will they understand your brand? The nuances that separate your fitness studio from the next? If you franchise to a new location or city, can they reproduce the feeling of being at your studio (even without you being there)? In person and online? A professionally designed brand can help ensure communication is clear internally, so it’s easier to expand externally.

5. You will be recognized from miles away.

If developed and promoted well over time, a strong brand can be easily recognized from a simple image on social media, or a monogram on the back of a tank top, or even by the smell of a candle. Creating a strong brand foundation helps you translate your brand into endless applications.

6. Clients will fall in love with your brand.

We’re talking real love. With a strategically and professionally designed brand, you create the foundation for a deep connection with your clients. Consider this a step above brand loyalty. The consumer not only admires and trusts the brand, they identify themselves with it. SoulCycle and Apple are good examples of love brands. Their consumers generously forgive mistakes and are “immune to price increases – the high level of personal identification with the brand core values is more important than a price advantage.” (source: Love Brand)

Whether you hire help or do it yourself, your brand needs to be a big part of your fitness business plan. Smart branding makes it easier for you to run the rest of your business smoothly because it clarifies your message, which builds trust among consumers and attracts more loyal clients. You can be strategic with marketing and reduce your time spent answering repetitive questions. you have to waste on low-yield growth effort and repetitive client questions.

Strong branding is absolutely essential to your success as a fitness brand and we’re here to help! Get in touch so we can help your fitness studio brand reach its full potential.