by Rachel Tigges
Today’s fitness and wellness industry is more competitive than ever and consumers’ expectations are off-the-charts. To succeed in this environment, companies must distinguish themselves from their competition and creating a powerful brand is one way that everyone from recent teacher training graduates to experienced practitioners can do that.
Most of you are familiar with the concept of branding, but you may not understand it fully or know how to build your own brand so let’s explore those questions.
Branding is a process by which someone can differentiate their company, product, or service from other seemingly similar companes, products or services. A brand clearly portrays who you are and how you are different from your competitors. Branding also tells potential customers what they can expect from you. Your goal is for your brand to become synonymous with the message that you want to convey to consumers when they see, hear, feel or touch your brand (ex., Mercedes = Luxury; Four Seasons Hotel = Customer Service; and Southwest Airlines = Cheap Airfare).
Developing your brand is critically importtant because it will provide the foundation that you will use to create your visual brand elements (logo, website, business cards) as well as your marketing strategy.
Below is the three (3) step process that I use when I work with my clients:
Step 1: Laying the foundation
The first step to defining your brand is to answer these questions (I recommend that you write the answers on a sheet of paper):
A. Who are you? What is your personal background and how have you gotten to where you are today?
B. What do you do? What product or services are you offering? If there are multiple, start with the most vital or lucrative.
C. Why you do what you do? Why have you chosen to work in the fitness and wellness industry? How has your passion inspired you to get you where you are today?
Step 2: Establishing your differentiators
With the recent boutique fitness explosion in NYC, it seems like there are literally 2-3 studios and health clubs on every block. In addition, there are 13,000 certified personal trainers in NYC and that’s not including yoga, pilates or barre instructors. Thus, to stand out in a crowded marketplace, your brand must answer these questions:
A) What is unique about what you are offering?
C) Who is your target audience?
Once you have finished the first two steps, you are ready to bring your brand to life. Remember, the best brands are not cold and impersonal; they are warm and inviting and lead to an emotional connections from consumers. How many times have you heard someone say that “they love their yoga teacher” or “their massage therapist is amazing?”
To create this emotional connection, you must define your brand voice. Are you serious? Playful? Assertive? Inspirational? The tone of your brand should be a combination of who you are as a person and how you want your business to be perceived. Write a few adjectives that describe your company’s vibe and use this tone consistently in all of your marketing collateral.
Once you complete these 3 steps, you are ready to create the visual elements of your brand such as your logo, business cards and website. Many people confuse the visual elements of a brand with the actual brand itself and that’s a mistake. Your logo is not your brand; rather, your logo is a reflection of your brand so when someone see your brand, she should know the answers to all of the questions in Steps 1, 2, and 3 above.