Starting a Gym

Building a Brand that’s Powerful and High-Performing

Dedicate the time to building a brand and refining it over time. You’ll create loyalty and referrals, driving retention, revenue and growth. Here's how!

When you’re starting a gym, building a brand is a bit like baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie. That cookie is perfectly chewy, with a crunchy exterior, and melts in your mouth. Your brand is impactful, recognizable and high-performing. Both sound amazing in theory, but the reality and execution can be somewhat complicated.

Are both worth the time and effort? Absolutely.

Think about that moment on the other side of all the work. You’ve built a brand that people in your market both recognize and appreciate. Local businesses have heard of you. The coffee shop owner is a member. Other wellness professionals trust you and refer clients. Members are reppin’ your gear all over town.

Building a brand drives gym revenue and retention
A high-performing brand helps customers recognize and trust your gym.

If you dedicate the time to building a brand and refining it, this is achievable. From the time you’re starting a gym to years of continued success, your brand is a cornerstone. It may take time to develop and improve but the reward is worth the effort.

Four Steps To Developing Your Brand:

1. Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition.

As simple as it sounds, your first step is to identify what your brand is all about. You want your market to understand and recognize your brand. So it’s essential for you to understand it first.

A great starting point is to develop a unique selling proposition (USP). This will cover everything from your niche to your differentiators in the market.

In addition, take the time to develop a mission statement and core values. These help you shape your brand, and guide you and the rest of your team. It also helps to brainstorm the overall culture or experience you want your clients to experience in your gym. Specifically, ask yourself how you want your clients to feel.

For example, maybe your target market is people who’ve never worked out in a group setting before. This generally elicits feelings of intimidation or overwhelm. So you probably want to find a way to make them feel comfortable and safe.

This might mean your prospective client’s first visit is a no-sweat consultation, followed by one-on-one personal training. Then, when they feel comfortable, they join in your group classes.

Ultimately, building a brand means understanding what it is and represents. This makes it easier to ascertain specific aspects of the client experience and culture.

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2. Do Your Market Research.

When you’re starting a gym, it’s easy to make decisions based on your preferences. However, this can be detrimental when building your brand. Especially if your personal beliefs and values aren’t in line with that of the business or its goals.

For example, maybe you would never pay $350 for a gym membership and therefore only charge $150. Your belief means leaving money on the table and conflicts with the gym’s revenue goals.

Determine services and pricing based on market research
Determine gym services and pricing based on market research.

Or perhaps you think memes are a funny method of communication. Therefore, your gym social media is mainly comprised of memes. But people are turning to your business for help and they’re looking for a team of trusted professionals.

Do your market research to truly understand your target market and the brand that will resonate with it. This will help in determining the services you’ll offer and the rates you’ll charge for them.

Also, note that proximity is one of the biggest keys in choosing a gym. So it’s important to do your most extensive research about the demographic who live or work in close proximity.

Finally, when it comes to brand attributes in relation to the market, look at other dominant brands. What do these businesses and brands stand for? And what can you learn from them to incorporate into your brand?

Pro Tip: Especially in the fitness industry, strive to help others. Show your target market that you have a solution to their problem. Then you’ll be the first choice when people are looking for help.

3. Be Consistent.

Just like training, consistency adds up over time. Building a brand is no different. Consistency is a prerequisite for a recognizable, powerful brand.

For example, imagine if Nike put a different logo on each iteration of its shoes. Instead, the Swoosh is consistent, universal and 100 percent recognizable.

For the gym owner, it goes well beyond just a consistent logo. From brand voice to gym member experience, your customers will have expectations about your service based on the brand you’ve created. The more consistent you are, the more they know they can trust you. This builds brand loyalty, and drives retention and referrals.

Let’s use your brand voice as an example. If your brand is all about having fun, then an entertaining, light-hearted tone should be reflected in your communication. Your brand voice should be consistent anywhere you’re creating copy, like social media or emails.

On the other hand, maybe you have a world-class facility geared toward training high-level athletes. Your brand is more serious and professional, and your brand voice needs to reflect this. So you can see how sharing comical videos or memes would be contradictory. Instead, your posts might be more educational than entertaining.

Also, consider using a tool like Grammarly, which isn’t just for spelling and punctuation. It can also analyze writing style, indicating whether your content is considered aggressive or friendly.

Brand voice in marketing and sales

4. Evaluate And Evolve.

Hopefully you’ll put a ton of well-spent time and effort into building a brand as you’re starting your gym. And even if you nail it from the start, it’s important to continue assessing over time.

Whether you’re adapting your pricing, services, brand voice or customer experience, evolving is a necessary part of running a business.

Your evaluation could be based on anything from key gym metrics or even a gut feeling. As times change, your gym will need to as well. So the more tuned in you are to aligning your brand with the demand of the market, the better your odds of success.

In Summary: The Art Of Brand Building

Building a brand is more of an art than a science. It’s not as straightforward and objective as a math equation. It will require some trial and error, and willingness to experiment. Over time, you’ll need to adapt and possibly even take risks.

But when done well, your gym has the ability to make a serious impact on your local market. Your brand can represent a place that people know, respect, trust and turn to to improve their lives.

Best of all, when your brand is strong, you’ll create loyalty. Therefore, you can expect a constant stream of referrals, above-average retention numbers and consistent growth.

DID YOU KNOW: The Gym Startup Guide is designed to help with every stage of running your fitness business. Download your copy today

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