The BRAND Challenge

This topic is near and dear to my heart since it’s been part of my professional career for more than 35 years – so this may be a bit of a rant — or at the very least — a “wake-up call.”


First off, it seems that many trainer, studio and club marketing gurus want to talk about the complexities of branding – to discuss brand personality, brand character and what branding really means.


They go deep into how your brand sends a message, a promise, a commitment and how the brand speaks volumes across multiple communications platforms…


Even a recent issue of PFP Magazine included an excellent article about “The Power of Your Brand.”

But all the articles and experts are making a false assumption. And, as a result, they put the “cart before the horse.”

Theory vs. Reality

It’s fine to go “deep” with branding. But, the reality is most health and fitness professionals are not even executing on Rule #1: Brand Application.


Want proof?


O.K., if you are at work as you read this… just STOP — and take a look at what you are wearing right now. Is your logo anywhere to be found on anything you are wearing?


If you’re like 90% of all independent health and fitness business owners – the answer is “NO!”

Am I right?


But, listen. You’re not alone.


Just the other day I watched a video by a fitness marketing expert that was all about BRANDING. Nowhere in his own video was his own brand or even his name. Not in the background. Not as a watermark on the video. NOTHING!


It’s sad….


The Real World


How many health and fitness business owners are running around wearing Nike, UA or other brand name apparel instead of their own logo? Who is this helping?


Here’s another reality.


Many health and fitness marketing consultants preach non-stop branding… BUT, in the very next breath attempt to convince their clients to sign-up for their MLM supplement program — where they receive an override!


You should sell your own brand of supplements. Period. And, yes, of course, you should buy them from me. (price, convenience, capitalization of inventory are lame excuses for anyone building a brand.)


And, what about signage? Whenever I visit a studio or club, the first thing I do is count how many times the brand has been applied inside the facility. On the walls? On the equipment? In the proshop? Are the trainers and staff wearing branded apparel? Are the brand colors carried out throughout the facility?


It’s amazing how often the brand disappears upon walking through the front door!



Brand Masters…


What is so ironic about this whole conversation about branding, is that one of the most amazing brands in the world was created within our own fitness industry: Gold’s Gym.


Yup, at one time, under the stewardship of Derek Barton, the Gold’s Gym brand was worn by every Hollywood A-list actor.


Top recording artists, fashion models and elite athletes made it a point to be seen wearing Gold’s Gym hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, etc. It was the essence of “bad-ass cool.”


The Venice, California Gold’s Gym, besides being a mecca for body-builders, was also a mecca for advertising and marketing executives who wanted to see, first-hand, the launch pad of such a successful brand.


During its peak years, when you walked into any Gold’s Gym, you absolutely knew you were in a GOLD’S GYM. The brand was applied to everything… from the workout floor and pro shop to the restrooms and showers!


The Best Brand Application – Ever!


Want to see the strongest example of brand application – EVER?


Here is a LOGO so loved that people tattoo it on their bodies! I bet you know what brand I’m talking about. CLICK HERE…


This company truly understands the VALUE of their BRAND! And, BRAND APPLICATION. They have put in the effort and discipline it requires to build their brand over time.


So, compare that with what clients and members see when they enter most clubs and studios:

      • There are different brands of equipment each with their own logos and phone numbers, websites, etc.


      • Pro-shops full of multi-branded apparel, bars, drinks, etc.


      • Many clubs and studios have 3 or 4 different brands of supplements on their shelves.


      • Some studios and clubs are so screwed up with their brand application that they look like a Walmart.


What J.J. Johnson Did…


My friend J.J. Johnson took the BRANDING CHALLENGE and found more than 1,000 brand impressions inside his 1,500 sq. foot facility. He only found 25 brand impressions of his logo! He took immediate action:


      • Ordered all of our products with his logo (we liked that!)


      • Terminated all clothing vendors, Nike, Reebok, etc and ordered all apparel with his logo


      • Created professionally designed stickers with his logo that read: “Thank you for working out with J.J.” The stickers also include his web address. He put these stickers all over his equipment and used them to cover up other logos within his facility


      • Painted his logo on the walls above the mirrors


The Branded Fitness Professional.. FirstImpres_Malibu_6202


And, that’s why the BRANDED HEALTH & FITNESS PROFESSIONAL laughs all the way to the bank. He or she has set himself/herself up for SUCCESS!


It’s NOT an overnight success.


But, within 2-3 years they have multiple profit centers among brand loyalists (their own tribe) who continue to repeat-purchase apparel, supplements and other branded accessories… even coffee cups!


Branded professionals continue to receive more referrals because their BRANDS have penetrated and become imprinted on the community consciousness and market area as well as social media followers.


Ready to Brand..?

So, are you ready to start building your brand? If so, help yourself to this free download.

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