Building a CrossFit Affiliate Brand You Can Be Proud Of

Without CrossFit in the name, what would your brand be? How can you make your gym unique and appealing to as many people as possible? Let’s find out.

Sam Karoll
August 27, 2022
Building a CrossFit Affiliate Brand You Can Be Proud Of
Without CrossFit in the name, what would your brand be? How can you make your gym unique and appealing to as many people as possible? Let’s find out.

You’re a CrossFit affiliate, and that’s great. We love their program and how helpful they are to their affiliates, while also lending the social proof of their trademark name to include in your business, and in your products. But they hold all the power. What would happen if you had to drop CrossFit out of your name and change your fitness products, such as classes?

Instead of waiting for that possibility to pop up, let’s make your own gym brand CrossFit-proof. If you stopped being with CrossFit tomorrow, we need to make sure your brand can sustain that, and build its own name that people can associate separately from CrossFit. This is how you get it done.

Branding According to CrossFit

According to the CrossFit affiliate playbook, your brand has to follow a certain feeling. After all, your goal is to meet the problems that your clients are facing with a solution. In order to find your audience in the first place, you have to find a way to appeal to them.

Let’s find out how you should appeal to your brand by loosely using the guidelines in the CrossFit affiliate playbook, and then talk about what you need to do with your brand outside of your CrossFit affiliation as well.

Find Your Ideal Member

You made a gym, so who’s the ideal customer that you believe the gym sells itself to? If you’re heavier on classes than you are on equipment areas, you’re looking for a demographic that can attend those classes without issue.

If you’re near a high school, your target market may be athletic seniors who need somewhere that’s better than the school gym, or so they have somewhere to work out on the weekends. What machines do they use? Get better ones.

It’s difficult to find your ideal member. You want to make multiple buyer personas, or client personas, so that you can market your CrossFit gym to them accordingly.

Discover and Empathize With Their Pain Points

You’re here to solve a pain point, or rather an entire list of them. What pain points do your clients encounter? This is hard to decipher for a new gym, but the best way to do that is by checking out the competition.

What are these other gyms doing that really makes their clients happy? Get a one-month membership and try it out for yourself. Find out what they offer, what people enjoy, and pay attention to the atmosphere.

Nine times out of time, you’ll always think “I can do better than this”, and while confidence is key, keep in mind that everything that competitor gym is doing costs time, money, and setup. You can do better, but how practical is it to do better?

Furthermore, don’t just think that you can do better without realizing what the clients want. Maybe this particular clientele doesn’t need Instagram-worthy lighting and floor-to-ceiling mirrors in every single room. Maybe they’re more interested in the equipment than the aesthetics.

Basically, find out what your ideal gym member wants and what the locals either enjoy about an opposing gym. This is like free marketing research that helps you figure out what your gym patrons want more than anything else.

Deeply Understand Your Competition

Go there, survey the area, and become a customer—whatever gets you closer to understanding your competition. This is a good surface level thing to do, but it’s not enough to really know your competition inside and out. Here’s a few things you can do.

  • Find Their Social Handles: Is your opposing gym on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.? Find out. Where are they most active, and how big is their following? Do they have a lot of engagement on their content? You can buy fake followers for social channels to build social proof, so if there’s no engagement, they’re small players that are trying to look bigger. Engagement wins over exposure every single time. Inspect where they reach an organic audience (if at all), and use that to build your own.
  • View Past Marketing Campaigns: Whether it’s through their site or some in-depth Googling, find out what they did to market in the past. There’s no way you can tell how well it worked based on their internal data, but it will give you a view into what type of marketing the locals have been exposed to so you don’t come off as a copycat at any point.
  • Scour Forums for Public Opinion: You know where you hear the juicy stories about a company? Forums. This is where people will ask about other gym experiences so they know whether to spend their money or not. You can find Reddit or Bodybuilding forum posts with local results. Find out what people are saying from behind the anonymity of the internet.

Find Out How You Make Your Members Feel

All purchases are emotional. Even if it appears to be a need, it’s emotionally-fueled. A certain problem is making you feel anxious, so you seek a solution. You want to join a gym because you want to feel better about yourself; that’s tied to emotions.

Psychology is at the forefront of all purchases. Your gym members are coming for an experience, so what experience do you want to give to them? There’s a few ways you can take a crack at this.

  • Color Theory: Colors correlate to different emotions. Learn about color theory to make sure your brand aligns with your mission statement and vision statement. Orange makes people think of courage; blue relates to loyalty. There are nine major colors you can choose from. A brand should have two, maybe three colors, so find out which emotions you want to mix and match, and how that will play into marketing and designing the aesthetic of your gym.
  • Take Great Photos: Blurry phone camera photos make people do one thing—look away from them as quickly as possible. For your marketing, window posters, wall hangings, website, and social media channels, you should have high-quality professional photography to make sure your gym members know what to expect. Well-lit photographs make us feel like it was taken professionally. Smiling people make us feel the same emotion. Make it work for you and your membership experience.
  • Manage Expectations: You can make them feel a certain way towards your gym, at least up until they walk in the door. Then it’s up to your customer service experience, your facility, and the interior aesthetics to make them feel like their assumptions were correct. You build the expectations for your members through marketing and advertising, so now make sure you can manage those expectations and fully realize them when they walk into the gym.

Find Out What Makes Your Brand Different

You’ve been to your competitor’s gym. You know what they offer, so now it’s time to find out what you can offer that’s unique and different. What is it about your gym that will keep people coming back?

Is there something you want to offer that maybe isn’t in the fitness scene right now? Perhaps it’s one of the reasons that you decided to open a gym in the first place? It could be to help your community with charity events, to make a specific space that helps disabled individuals with fitness (certified trainers, fitness spaces that accommodate multiple disabilities), or whatever you want.

Find out the unique selling point that you can use for your gym that nobody else in your area is offering right now.

Build Your Brand Beyond the CrossFit Affiliation

At the end of the day, you’re more than a CrossFit gym. If they pulled their affiliate program tomorrow, what would you do? You need an exit plan in case the rug gets pulled out from under your feet.

You’re using CrossFit to build a brand, not building a brand for CrossFit—there’s a big difference. If CrossFit drops from your signs, shirts, and name, you still need to have a brand that you can use. Make your brand dissolution-proof.

Research Your Target Audience

Your target audience is the core community that you find, market to, and gain as members. No gym can appeal to everyone, so instead of wasting time and effort on something you can’t control, invest your time and effort into attracting the right community.

Once you know your prices, what you offer, and how it correlates to specific buyer personas, you’ll be able to figure out what your target market is. If your gym is focused in an area that has high poverty levels, make your classes affordable to help them out.

Are you located really close to a hospital? Make classes specifically for nurses and medical staff. Find your target audience and don’t let go.

Choose a Business Name That Resonates With the Target Audience Pain Points

Yes, CrossFit will be in your name at first, but if it ever goes away you want your brand name to still shine. Here are some tips to help with that.

  • Make it CrossFit-Proof: CrossFit changes their terms and now you’re not an affiliate anymore. That’s a bummer, but you will prevail as long as your name can still work even with their branding missing. Find a name that works both with and without CrossFit in the title.
  • Focus on Pain Points: You used to be Dan’s CrossFit Gym for Veterans, but now you’re Dan’s Gym for Veterans. It touches on a paint point (making a fitness space where veterans can get together) while still working if the CrossFit branding falls by the wayside.
  • Bake In Your Selling Point: If your gym is very unique in what it offers, put it into your name. It tells people what your gym is all about without having to look at a single advertisement or bit of marketing material. If you only have their attention for a short amount of time, make sure you utilize every second of it.

Position Your Brand as a Solution to Their Specific Problem

We talk about paint points a lot because they’re crucial in making a unique brand. If your main selling point is CrossFit, which can be taken away from you, you’ll quickly lose a CrossFit crowd once you’re on your own.

Make CrossFit part of your identity, but not the whole thing. What else do you offer that would attract people to your gym anyway? Focus on that and make it the other half of what your gym offers.

You could be Dan’s CrossFit and BJJ Gym and offer two separate services that each focus on building communities. Your BJJ members aren’t likely to be the same as your CrossFit members, and so on. This means you have a leg to stand on even without CrossFit.

Create an Opportunity for Introduction

You can’t just shove an ad or marketing material in someone’s face and impress them. You need to create an opportunity for them that introduces them to your business, and to you as the owner.

Make an offer that really lands with your core demographic. Using previous examples, let’s say you really want to focus on the hundreds of nurses in your area. What about late-night classes that happen after the shift change? That’s an opportunity that you provide to a specific demographic that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Find your opportunity for introduction, and turn it into an offer. If you’re targeting stay-at-home mothers during the school year, you could market it as “On your way home from drop-off”—these are just examples, it’s up to you to find the right one that works for your demographic and target audience.

Build the Brand That You’ll be Proud of

At the end of the day, you want to be proud of your brand. You want to be proud of what you do, who you help, and how you accomplish your goals (not just that they’re done, but how they are done).

Good staff, great branding, excellent products, and stellar pricing that reflects your value will always triumph over everything else. Build that brand, and constantly optimize it to be the best that it can possibly be.

Sam Karoll

Sam is our Community Manager for PushPress. He also owns and operates Xplore Nutrition, a personalized nutrition coaching service designed "for your lifestyle and goals by a Coach who's always available."

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