The Basics of Branding Your Gym

Building a great brand is a crucial part for any marketing strategy. Whether you´re a small crossfit gym or a big box franchise branding is something your gym needs.

In this article, Mark will give us some tips on branding your gym and explains the importance of finding your niche to garnish more clients.

Mark Campbell

Mark Campbell

Mark Campbell is the owner and founder of CORE Strong Fitness. Mark Campbell is a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer since 2008, he is the First Certified BLACK Rank TRX Training Coach in the Midwest and currently holds the highest level of education offered through TRX, is FMT Level 1 Certified through RockTape, Theragun Master Trainer, Certified Barefoot Training Specialist though EBFA, Precision Nutrition Level 1 coach, and Performance Climbing Coach.

// Why Branding Your Gym Matters

When you’re trying to convey why your gym exists, what you stand for, and how you want to serve your clients’ needs, there are three main ways to do it. First, you have the words and phrases that can become a core component of how you communicate on a day to day basis. Second, you can back this up with how you treat people. And third, you can convey key messages through your branding. 

Developing a distinctive brand that’s truly your own will allow your gym to stand out in your local marketplace. It’s an underrated component of getting people through your front doors and keeping them coming back regularly, which in the age of COVID-19 is increasingly challenging. The way that you brand your fitness business can send positive messages that reinforce your mission statement and manage people’s perception of what you are, what you do, and why. 

Branding is both external and internal. From an outward perspective, it encompasses the color scheme, signage, and logo on the outside of your building. All of these factors can convince people to stop by and take a look inside. When they do, you want to make sure that what they see is consistent with what drew them off the street in the first place. And, for that matter, what might have attracted them to your social media pages and website.

Building Brand Recognition

As I mentioned in a previous article, the way your gym is laid out, your use of space, and the cleanliness and tidiness all factor into creating a good first impression for guests and members alike. From a branding perspective, the colors of the storage cubbies, equipment, and walls also make a difference for good or for ill. At CORE Strong Fitness, the TRX brand has been a big inspiration to us, both in our approach to functional training and marketing. When I see a black and yellow color combination, I immediately associate it with the company. 

That’s one of the reasons that we initially chose to go with grey and yellow for our own color scheme. On our first logo, the grey was darker than I wanted, so I switched it out for a slightly lighter hue. Then when we moved into our new space in Kansas City, I recognized an opportunity to keep most of the design elements while adding in more black and white to our space to convey a high-class look and feel. In keeping with this, I ordered a giant five-foot by three-and-a-half-foot sign from Sticker Mule and put it on the middle of our longest interior wall. 

To accentuate the sign’s black on a white background, we chose black slam balls, sand bags, Concept2 rowing machines, dumbbells, and barbells. Our kettlebells are also black and I hand painted colored stripes on them that indicate the weight. To add a pop of color, I got yellow squat racks that have black pull-up bars and j-cups. Our Rogue bumper plates are black with white lettering and numbers. The walls are white and the floors are black. These simple color combinations are consistent inside and outside our space, on our social platforms, and on our website. I hope that this thoughtfulness and attention to detail implies that we care about our members, the space in which they come to train, and our staff.

I feel the opposite when I walk into another gym and encounter a haphazard collection of equipment that’s awkwardly crammed into a space that clearly has not been well planned out. Often, such gyms have garishly bright walls as well, and lighting that’s either too dim or too harsh. Such an environment implies that perhaps the members aren’t very well cared for, either.

The Power of Personalization

We’ve also added a little personalization by getting smaller stickers for the Blender Bottles that we give to members when they sign up for our monthly unlimited package, and on the ends of all our dumbbells. These are certainly small touches, but I believe that taking a bit of extra time to customize such things reinforces the impression that we have high standards and that nothing escapes our attention. 

A trap that I see a lot of gyms and studios become ensnared in is changing their logo or even their entire brand every few months. While I get the appeal of doing something new and fresh, this can be confusing to new and existing clients and means that you have to start again at square one from a brand recognition standpoint. 

One neighboring facility has rebranded three times in the past four years, and unfortunately, I don’t think it has done much, if anything, to help grow their business. There’s something to be said for consistency and creating continuity throughout everything you do, rather than chopping and changing all the time.

Synchronizing Story + Visual Brand

Another key consideration for us has been ensuring that our story and visual brand align. A while back, I went through over 100 Google reviews to see what our loyal clients were saying about us. The three words that showed up most frequently were welcoming, fun, and challenging. That was reassuring to me, because for the longest time I’d been pushing back against advice to define us as fierce, intense, and raw. 

While such wording might be applicable to some gyms, they never felt anything like what we do here. So once I’d received that validation from our customers, I felt free to turn the dial on being welcoming, fun, and challenging all the way up to 10. If people walk away and don’t mention all three of these adjectives to a friend afterward, then we’re missing the mark in how we’re branding, the story we’re telling, and the experiences we’re creating. 

One of the major misconceptions about branding is that you have to hire a ritzy PR agency, take an expensive course on social media strategy, or buy a social media playbook. Quite often, you can do most, if not all, of the work yourself. Take some cues from other gyms that do a good job, ask your friends in the industry for pointers, and then commit to a continual trial and error process that will help you discover what works best for you, your staff, and your brand. 

Also ask for feedback from your customers and then listen carefully to their responses. This way, you’re creating a dynamic brand that doesn’t exist in isolation but takes into account the needs and wants of the community you serve. With thoughtful branding, you don’t always have to say what your business is all about because you can show it.

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