The Essence of a Brand
Your studio’s brand is its reputation; it’s the promise of value you offer the market and the immediate thought that a consumer, prospect, client and/or member has when your studio’s name is mentioned. People don’t have relationships with products or facilities; instead they have trust in and are loyal to brands. Facilities and products are one dimensional; however, brands are multi-dimensional, with many layers, tenets and beliefs that can generate a passionate following of people, each of whom find your brand’s promise compelling and relevant. Brands have a purpose, often called a mission that people can embrace.
Brands are personally relevant and speak to each client, customer, guest or member with a distinctly differentiated attitude and voice. Brands can inspire people to join a community, and in the case of a fitness studio, inspire individuals to make a change in their life. Brands can rally people for or against something. Brands can activate a passionate group of people to do something as powerful as changing the world (think Google or Apple). Finally, brands are as much a reflection of what your clients, customers, guests and members experience as it is the message you communicate through marketing.
Some Important Characteristics of Great Brands
Great brands are frequently built around a compelling and powerful promise (e.g., Apple,Harley Davidson, and Lego), a uniquely differentiated experience (e.g., IKEA, Starbucks, and Walt Disney) and in some cases a cultural movement (e.g., Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn).Among the most common traits that will be found in great brands are the following:
- Great brands are unique and relevant, respected and trusted. Great brands are more than a name, they emotionally engage us.
- Great brands define and fulfill the aspirations of the customer or in the case of a studio, the aspirations of its clients and members. One of the leading reasons people pursue the offerings of a fitness studio is to fulfill their physical aspirations, and in some cases their emotional aspirations.
- Great brands differentiate the experience, which is manifested through all touch points of a client’s, customer’s and/or member’s experience with your brand. These touch points may include your web page, social media outlets, interactions with staff, the facility and equipment and even the interactions with other clients and customers.
- Great brands consistently deliver on their promise. Firms such as Apple, Disney and Southwest are passionate about consistently delivering on their promise. To deliver on their respective promises consistently, each of these firms has built standards, employee training programs, protocols and monitoring systems that ensure that their clients and customers experience the power of their promise.
Some Guidelines to Building a Powerful Brand for Your Studio
Understand your businesses’ value proposition from the prospects, client’s, customers’ and/or members’ perspective. What is it about your brand that attracts them, engages them and enamors them? In particular, make sure you to address the following:
- What can your studio offer the market that is unique and different than what the competitors offer? For instance, at Zoom, a Frisco, Texas based sports performance and physical therapy center, they determined that offering an integrated approach incorporating physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, sports performance training and physical rehabilitation would be unique to their marketplace.
- What are the touch points of your brand that will clearly message your value proposition? Touch points are the moments of interaction between your brand and the client and/or customer. Touch points include, but are not limited to each interaction with your staff (sales, reception, trainers and instructors), your web site, your Facebook page, direct mail pieces, community interactions and so forth.
- What are the offerings that currently exist in the marketplace, and what offerings appear to be in demand and are not currently served? Nearly every market has a personal training studio, but what can you offer that they don’t? The best way to discover what your value proposition is, or what it should be is to conduct some basic market research.
- Consistently deliver on the brand promise. Make sure everyone on the team understands the promise, and just as importantly, is well trained in being able to deliver on the brand’s operating standards and style guide.
- Great brands make sure their story gets told. Telling the story involves spreading the organization’s brand message through authentic and credible means. A studio’s best approach to sharing stories is having clients and/ or members share their experiences about the studio with others.
- Be authentic. Authenticity means being real, being trusted, and delivering an experience that the community, and more importantly, the clients and/or members believe is credible. A great brand will be authentic when clients and/or members put their trust in the brand promise and consequently, the experience they receive.
Branding is one of the most important steps an entrepreneur can take in establishing and sustaining a successful and profitable business. Branding does not take place overnight, or even in one year, it is an ongoing process that requires commitment, diligence and perseverance.