The fitness industry is booming and shows no signs of slowing down. Recent reports found that industry revenue totaled $87.2 billion across the United States in 2017.
However, that doesn’t mean that every gym is thriving. If your gym seems empty, it may be time to rethink your marketing strategy.
Brand development can help potential customers recognize your gym as an industry leader.
Keep reading to learn more about branding and what you can do to come up with a solid branding strategy.
What is Branding?
Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of branding before. The truth is, even experienced businesses struggle to differentiate branding from straight-up marketing.
For the sake of this article, we’ll use Business Dictionary‘s definition.
Branding is the creation of a name or image that, when used on a consistent basis, differentiates one business from another.
Think about Gold’s Gym for example.
You can likely picture the Gold’s Gym logo just from reading the company name.
That’s very much by design. The owners of Gold’s Gym have spent millions of dollars making sure that each location’s logo, slogan, and promotional artwork are instantly recognizable.
Why Does Brand Development Matter?
Now that we know more about branding, let’s look at some of the biggest reasons why it’s so important for your fitness facility.
Imagine you’re walking down an aisle in the grocery store. You see two different sports drinks, Gatorade and Powerade.
Both products have similar prices, and the flavors even seem comparable. There’s a good chance that you’d choose Gatorade though. And for good reason.
With Gatorade, you already know what you’re getting. It’s a drink that you’ve enjoyed before, therefore, you know what you can expect.
As for that other drink? You work hard for your money and want to get the most for your dollar. So why risk it?
In essence, that’s branding. It’s using a variety of tools and platforms to establish an image that separates you from the competition and identifies your business as the best in the lot.
Must-Know Brand Development Tips
It’s one thing to know about branding. However, coming up with a brand development strategy and executing a flawless advertising campaign is another matter entirely.
Branding doesn’t need to be an arduous or costly experience. All you need is this step-by-step brand strategy guide and a little creativity.
1. Think about your gym
Every business is unique and has their own goals. It’s up to you to determine what you think is best for your business.
Who are you? What do you want customers to experience when they walk through the doors of your gym? What specifically do you hope to gain through branding?
It’s a lot to think about. These important questions and their answers will serve as the basis of your brand strategy.
Branding requires clear direction, so start by setting goals.
One great method is to leverage what experts refer to as the S.M.A.R.T. system.
The acronym stands for:
- Specific: Know the exact outcome you plan to achieve and how you plan to achieve it.
- Measurable: To succeed, you’ll need to have a way of measuring your results.
- Attainable: It’s crucial that you’re realistic with your business plan. It’s best to start small.
- Relevant: Do your goals make sense in light of the current market?
- Time-specific: When do you hope to achieve your goal? Remember, goals should be attainable.
If you don’t have a business plan for your gym already, use the S.M.A.R.T. criteria detailed above to create one.
2. Evaluate the competition
As a business owner, it can seem like it’s you against the world. While the competition may be fierce, you’re not without a few advantages of your own.
Leveraging competitive research is a great way to understand more about the competition you’re facing. Not only will it show you what your competitors are up to, but you can learn their weak spots as well.
For instance, say a competitor’s website is strong, yet they have a small social presence. That presents a great opportunity for you to jump in and target their customers via social media.
Create a document and outline each of your competitors. Include basic details about their business, such as how many locations they have, their ideal customer, and how they’re different from your gym.
Periodically go back and check in. Adjust the document as needed.
Competitive research can level the playing field. Don’t underestimate the power of this particular aspect of brand development strategy.
3. Identify your ideal client
Branding is all about standing out from the herd. The best way to do that is by creating a specialized message for a certain demographic.
The best way to find your ideal client is by creating a customer persona, which is a fictionalized representation of who you’d like to reach.
This persona should be as detailed as possible. You’ll want to include information such as:
- Customer age range
- Gym-going habits
- Preferred equipment
- Common fitness goals
- Education level
- Spending habits
The more information you have to build the persona, the better. Once you’ve established your ideal client, you’ll have a much easier time deciding where and how to spend your marketing dollars.
4. Come up with a compelling message
You know who your audience is—now how are you planning to reach them?
With a compelling message, of course!
As important as logos and slogans are, your message is what’s going to humanize your brand.
The good news is that you’ve already done the prep work.
During this step of the branding process, look back over your goals, competitor research, and customer persona.
Your ideal messaging (including the channels in which you disperse your message) should reinforce your business goals, capitalize on a competitor’s missed opportunities, and appeal to your target customer.
Let’s say you’re looking to target soccer moms for an upcoming six-month promotion. Thanks to your research, you already know that your competitor isn’t trying to attract this audience.
Furthermore, you’ll have an idea of typical soccer mom spending habits and fitness goals via your customer persona.
It all works together.
5. Design your logo, name, slogan, and mission statement
It may seem a little strange that we waited this long to mention crucial elements of branding like slogans and logos. After all, those are pretty essential parts of a business’ brand.
But we ignored these crucial elements for a very good reason. Too many companies focus on coming up with a great logo first and completely ignore the research.
Again, it’s important to remember that everything works together.
You’ll need the information you gathered before to come up with materials that accurately represent your gym.
For your logo, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. It’s best to stick to tried and true imagery associated with gyms and fitness facilities.
When choosing a color for your logo, research color psychology and use colors that evoke emotions congruent to your gym. For instance, warmer colors like yellows and oranges are often associated with energy and strength. While cooler colors like blues and greens are often used to evoke peace and calmness.
Next, create a mission statement that exemplifies what you want your business to represent. Keep it short and use action-oriented language.
Finally, distill your mission statement into a few words to come up with your slogan.
6. Keep it consistent
Consistency is perhaps the most important aspect of branding. If you aren’t sending out a consistent message with the same underlying tone each time, you’ll run the risk of confusing your audience.
A good example of consistency is the Nike logo. Over the six or seven decades of Nike’s existence, the company has done very little to change its signature swoosh.
As a result, if you walk into a shoe store and see the swoosh, you know exactly what brand the symbol represents.
The easiest way to capitalize on branding is to remain consistent across all channels and mediums. Your web copy should strike a similar tone to your content, and the colors used in your website should match your logo.
The more consistent you are, the better your brand recognition.
7. Reach out to your audience
Marketing is the digital age is a lot tougher than marketing two or three decades ago.
At some point, it becomes too much and audiences begin to shut down. They may become less receptive to an advertisement or tune it out entirely.
With that said, it’s still possible to reach your audience.
Your brand needs to be wherever your audience is.
If you’re targeting a younger demographic, make sure you’re on the latest social media sites. If you’re targeting health-conscious consumers, talk about the effects that exercise can have on physical and mental health.
What’s important is that you reach out to them with a message that resonates to their needs and interests.
Consumers are more likely to interact with brands if they’re treated as friends or equals. Remember this as you develop your marketing strategy.
8. Create great content
You have the presence, now you need something to post.
Memes and promotional materials are a good start, but you’ll need to produce and post fresh content on a regular basis to keep your audience interested and engaged.
Blogging tends to be the easiest and most cost-effective method of content creation. Aside from the price of web hosting and a little bit of your time and energy, creating a blog post costs nothing.
You’re not limited to the written word though. Video content is still growing in popularity. Soon, it’s believed that the majority of content consumed online will be in the form of video.
But don’t feel constricted by these suggestions. The beauty of building your own company comes with your unique take on management.
9. Gain a reputation
In today’s era of democratized consumption, your customers have more power than ever to make or break your business.
To stay competitive, make sure customers are talking about your brand. Word of mouth still matters—it’s just changed a bit.
The majority of your customers will check out your business online before coming to your gym.
One study found that as much as 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a friend’s personal opinion.
Encourage your current gym-goers to fill out online reviews by awarding them points whenever they post positively about you on their social media. Not only are these reviews a great resource for your future clientele, but they’re an easy way to improve your gym’s SEO too.
And what about negative reviews?
Yes, they matter, too. But not as much as how you handle them.
Your gut reaction may be to yank a negative review down. But doing so would be a missed opportunity. Instead, respond to the customer. Let them know that you hear them and want to make the situation right.
It’s impossible to please everyone, but extending the olive branch opens the door to a return customer and salvaged opinion.
10. Learn from your data
Launching your brand building strategy is only the beginning. From here, you have a ton of work to do, beginning with data collection.
Keep an eye on your metrics. See how your business is performing and don’t be afraid to make small adjustments if needed.
There’s a good chance that at least one of your goals will under-perform. But don’t let that get you down.
Evaluate, adjust, and move on.
The Right Brand Development Strategy Can Take Your Gym to the Top
Coming up with a brand development plan isn’t easy. It requires a ton of thought, effort, and hard work.
But that work will be worth it once your gym is full of happy, loyal customers. As a fitness guru, you’re used to pushing yourself to the limit and this is no different. Don’t give up!
If you’re looking to grow your brand, we’d love to help. Contact us today to request a demo and see how our revolutionary software can change the way you do business.