What differentiates two trainers enough for one to charge 50% more? When you are in a new city, why do you go to the restaurant with the same name and look as the one in your town, rather than a unheard of local restaurant? Why is it that beverage companies can sell T-shirts and pop stars can sell perfume? All of these answers are related to branding. The best way to describe branding is to quote Scott Bedbury. Scott was influential in creating two brands you might have heard of: Nike and Starbucks! (1)
“A great brand taps into emotions….Emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions. A brand reaches out with [a] powerful connecting experience. It’s an emotional connecting point that transcends the product…”
When most people think about brand, they think about logos, strap (tag) lines and advertising, not realizing there is more to branding than that. So as a Personal Training Executive, why would you need to know about branding? And as an individual, how does it affect you? To answer these questions, you need to look at your company and your income and think about the following: do you charge the most amount of money in your area per hour? Are you full of clients with a waiting list? Why are you different to other personal trainers? What should a client expect to experience from your training sessions? What kind of client do you want to attract?
It is a fact that in today’s society, people buy brands, and brands raise the amount of money that people are willing to pay. With this in mind, you need to brand and become associated with big brands.
Luckily, you are probably branding at the moment by association. If you do Core training (or any other kind of well publicized training), if you advertise the training company you are qualified with, if you are based within a club, if you have identified a certain sport or area of interest, then you have branded by association.
The bottom line is, if you want to succeed in business today, you need to brand. This guide will help you get branded and set you up for the third and final article in the series: How to Sell.
Set Your Company Values
It can take years for a large company to identify its brand values and set up its whole service and business around these. If you are looking for a very good brand that has managed to transfer across products very successfully, then Richard Branson’s Virgin Brand has probably been most successful, although Disney would not be too far behind.
Virgin has managed to match its brand values to many different markets. They started as a record label and have hit airlines, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, wellness centers, finance companies, mobile phone companies and more. Virgin’s values are consistent across all of their companies, no matter what they sell or what service they provide. All decisions from design to service, recruitment and products are based on these values:
- Competitive Challenge
- Value for money
- Brilliant Customer Service (2)
If you look at how their companies look and feel, you will see they are very well matched. Also, if you have ever worked for a Virgin company, you will understand the amount of focus placed upon brand values.
Disney is a company that I need to mention, as they share many of my values. They are also, in my opinion, the company that provides entertainment better than any other, which is where I believe the industry needs to go to bring in the bucks! Disney’s values are as follows:
- Do (3)
Again, Disney adheres to these values in everything they do, and this is why they lead the way in everything from entertainment to service.
How to Set Your Values
“What you value is u-n-m-i-s-t-a-k-a-b-l-y reflected in (1) precisely how you spend your time, (2) the nature of each contribution at each meeting and (3) who exactly you hang with.” (1)
So as a Personal Training Executive, you need to start getting your values in order. The following is the John Hardy Step by Step Q&A Guide to finding your company values. (For the less observant of you, I take anything that I do, based on my reading and experience, and brand it John Hardy’s - clever, eh?!)
- What words would I like people to use when they describe me?
- What words would I like people to use when describing my service
- What words would I use to describe the best Personal Training Session that I could ever experience?
- What words would I use to describe the best leisure service that I have ever experienced?
- What words would I use to describe the values that are most important to me?
- How would my best friends describe me?
- How would my close family describe me?
This should have produced quite a long list of words, so your next task is to eliminate the words that you would not be able to take throughout your whole brand. To do this, you need to follow the John Hardy’s Personal Training Executive value clear-up system. (See what I did again?!)
- Go through the words and take out any that mean the same thing. Keep the ones that most accurately describe what you think your business values should be. (For example, you may have cutting edge and innovation. If you intend to lead the field in your area, then cutting edge is good, but if you want to come up with your own system and style, then innovation may be better).
- Start to think about the services you are going to offer and then remove any words that may conflict with your service. (For example, you may want to focus on the more medical side of the business so "fun" would be difficult to do - try telling your client that they have to give up the food they love, drinking on the weekend and then keep it fun!)
- Read through your list and remove any words that you do not think work; use your instinct and follow your hunches.
- Take your final list and ask one of your current clients that you love working with what values are important to him when he decided to buy PT off of you. This way, like-minded clients should flock to you.
You should now have a good list of three to 10 words that describe the values of your business and will set you up on the journey to branding.
How to Market Around Your Values (or Branding!)
“Aesthetics. From the moment we wake up to the end of each working day, we are dazzled by what we see, hear, taste, smell and feel. Our personal tastes guide our decisions in choosing our neighborhoods, decorating our homes, selecting our clothing, picking our appliances and buying our cars.” (4)
Design is everything you do and the most important initial selling point that you can bring to your business. If your service is great, but your design is poor, then you will struggle to sell. Often, it is not the best product that sells, but instead the best looking product that sells. So when you set up your brand, you need to get a design that reflects your company values.
“Each impression you make will - temporarily, at least - be your last. So make it strong.” (5)
A great example of a first and consistent impression that took a brand and elevated it to the top was Jarvis Cocker of the English band “PULP.” He took the fact that he was very tall and very thin and played on it. In the years that PULP was at the height of its fame, he wrote songs about important aspects of his life based on the fact that he was perceived as a wimp and a bit strange. The odd-one-out brand worked well. His NHS glasses (free glasses given to you by the National Health Service in England in the 70s with thick black rims and huge lenses) complimented his songs about his life as one of the outcasts at school. Taking this line gave him a very strong support of people who could recognize this and could see where his humor and wit matched their own. Although his songs were very good, he managed to sell T-shirts, key fobs and videos and was invited to talk about art and other subjects away from his music background. The lesson from this is, take parts of your personality that you think are quirky and that you should hide, and then accentuate them and make them the personality traits that make you different.
When selecting colors, you may want to think about some of the other products that your clients use and then use them to help you get your brand. The following is a questionnaire that may be useful.
|What car do you drive?
|What local magazines/papers do you read?
|What national papers/ magazines do you read?
|Where do you shop?
|What is your favorite brand of trainers/ sports wear?
|How many holidays do you take a year?
|Where do you go?
|What is your favorite hotel?
|What is your favorite restaurant?
|How much do you spend on your leisure time per week?
|How much time do you have available per week?
Using the answers to the above questions, you should start to get a running trend of colors and designs that fit. The more of your clients that you can get to fill in the survey, the best information you will get to help you design your brand.
On naming your business, I believe Geoff Birch has a very good viewpoint (7),
“…take a walk down the high street and look at the most successful names: Dixons, Woolworths, Boots, WH Smith, Sears, Ford, Wendy’s and of course Marks & Spencer. If we (people who choose naff names like Stand and Deliver Mail Order Hat Stand Company) had our way, it should be Nix’n’Bras.”
When you are going to name your company or your services, it is important that you select a name or set of names that reflect your business values or feature your name and service. Having a name for each of your services is a great way of setting yourself apart from the crowd and developing a system that will not be comparable to other trainers. In the next article, this system becomes vital when talking about how to sell. The following is an example of how you could name and brand your services. (6)
- PERFORMANCE –12 weeks £800 – includes full assessment, a 12 week specific program, which is progressive and based in the latest science, 12 assisted stretches, 12 body part sports massages, a nutritional consultation a T-shirt and water bottle.
- DE-STRESS- 12 Weeks £800 – includes an in depth Range of Motion assessment and then a progressive, science based program of stretch, massage and postural strengthening exercises designed to get you into a de-stressed, tall, positive posture, while helping you unwind and relax. This package includes a nutritional assessment in order to help you avoid the needs for stimulants.
- MELT – 12 Weeks £800 – includes an in depth nutrition review, an intense monitoring system, a high calorie burning, basal metabolic rate raising program that is body friendly and progressive in design. This program is the most weight loss specific course of its kind and will get you to a weight that is great for you at a rate and in a style that will allow you to maintain it.
- LESSON – £450 6 months, £800 12 months- Hours taken once a month, where each session is designed to teach you a new fitness skill in depth in order to improve your training for that month. This is like the equivalent of a set of golf lessons, where each one is designed to add that little extra to your game.
- EXPERIENCE - £75 – includes assisted stretch, a full body or specific program, and a relaxation back massage. An ideal introduction to Personal Training.
Your logo is very important and will help you to brand everything you do and everything you stand for. As this is so important, you should get a professional design for one logo and then use it everywhere and on everything.
Initially your client is going to judge you by your leaflets, brand and style so when you start to design your stationary, T-shirts, hand-outs and all other marketing, the colour that you select becomes vital.
The following is some information on colors that may help you decide on your logo and marketing designs. (adapted from 4)
|Reds, Oranges and Yellows
||Energetic and Extroverted
|Greens, Blues and Purples
||Calmer and Introverted
||Sunny, Happy, Active, Pure or Innocent
||Dark, Mysterious, Impure or Evil
|Gold and Silver
||Brightness, Luxury and Elegance
It is worth considering that combining these colors can give a completely different impression again. For this reason, I suggest you get a very good designer and read the book, “Marketing Aesthetics” by Schmitt and Simonson.
Although your strap line is not vital, it can give your potential clients an idea of how you perceive your company, service or field. Nike's strap line, “Just Do It,” helps supports its brand identity based on “aggressive, proactive, in-your-face, spirited, cool and masculine” (8).
A very good friend of mine who has worked in two of the clubs that I have run and was the best trainer we had, has a strap line which totally compliments his business. MGPT (or Malc Gray Personal Training) started with the strap line, “Be an Achiever.” Now he has, “You+Me+Commitment=Success.” This reflects the fact that when you take him on as your trainer, he demands that you get yourself and lifestyle correct to make sure that he can get you results. These results have then sold him many Personal Training Sessions and also made him a very sought-after trainer. Clients are in no doubt about the commitment he requires from them when he agrees to let them train with him.
The film “Dodgeball” had some interesting strap lines and sayings that reflected the large gym in the film. The large gym was full of beautiful people and had a strap line, “We are better than you and we know it” as well as “Change yourself from Frankenstein to Frankenfine!” Although these were tongue in cheek, they did represent the Globo gym very well and could be matched to some of the larger chain gyms that currently operate.
On a more serious note, though, it is important to know that your strap line may give you the edge when it comes to signing up a new client. My strap line would be, “Using Entertainment to Produce Results” and would be aimed at informing my clients that I think everything learned should be unconscious and that time should always fly when I work with you.
Because branding is such a huge topic and covers literally everything you do, one article could not do it justice. The idea here is to get you thinking about how you can use your branding to elevate your product and your price. Without covering how to brand your service, this article should get you in a position to recognize your brand and help you to start utilizing it. In the next issue, your branding will be vital and help you to get your sales and price up to its potential.
- Peters, T (1999) “Brand you 50” Alfred A Knopf, New York, US
- Capodaghi, B and Jackson, L (1998)The Disney WayMcGraw Hill, New York, US
- Schmitt, B and Simonson, A (1997)Marketing AestheticsThe Free Press, New York, US
- Beckwith, H (2002)Selling the invisibleTexere Publishing Limited, London, UK
- Hardy, J (2004) “How to increase your price without losing clients” Personal Training, Premier Training International, Trowbridge UK
- Burch, G (1997)Go it aloneCapstone Publishing, Oxford, UK
- Aaker, D & Joachimsthaler (2000)Brand LeadershipSchmidt and Schuster, London, UK