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Fitness Center Marketing: Branding

This is the first article in a five-part series that details exactly what you need to market your fitness center and make it a success.

Some people think fitness center marketing is as simple as placing a classifieds or yellow page ad, and for some, it can be. But if you have competition (and you probably do), you can earn a majority local market share by successfully branding your fitness center or gym. Pump up your marketing efforts and go the distance to establish your gym as the go-to place to get strong, healthy and fit.

Importance of a branded image

Branding is important because people purchase on emotion. When it comes to gym marketing, they’re seeking accessibility and results. It’s important to identify and promote your branded identity so you can connect with your target audience at a glance. If your fitness center is not branded, then you’re just another fitness center. There’s nothing that separates you from the competition

This reduces your potential customer pool to make choices based on factors such as price, convenience and preconceived notions. Without a branded identity, you have no control over preconceptions and therefore you’re forced to either compete on pricing and location alone. This is not a way to grow your fitness center. Cheap does not outsell quality.

How to identify your branded image

Instead, you should compete based on public perception, which you can control with a branded image. To identify your branded image, you have to consider how you’re different from your competitors. What do you offer that they don’t (or that they don’t promote)? Perhaps you have an Olympic-sized pool, more aerobic machines or free weights, or guaranteed accessibility (“Never wait for a treadmill!”). Maybe you offer tournaments, leagues, classes, personal training, a spa, or another major advantage over the competition. Are you the “Gym for Weightlifters,” “Fitness Center for All Family Members,” or the “Instructional Gym”? Don’t hide it – promote it!

To help you define what type of fitness center you are, consider the features and benefits you offer your members. Understand the distinction between the two. For example, having more elliptical machines is a feature – guaranteeing that members will never have to wait to get on one is a benefit. List all of your features and benefits, and pick the most important that also differentiate you from the competition to base your brand on. Try to come up with a single word or short phrase that captures this concept. In the elliptical machine scenario, this word might be “freedom” or “accessibility.”

You also have to consider your members’ motivations. Why would they want to choose your gym instead of a competitors’? Once you’ve identified your differences, strengths, clientèle, benefits and motivators, wrap them all together into a singular branded image that expresses who you are, what you do and how you do it.

Branding through design

Skilled graphic design can transform your fitness center’s branded identity from a concept to a visual motivator. This image is what the world will see, and your members will perceive the ideal and emotions that your image expresses. The power of design is limitless, especially when you incorporate sound brand identity design principles for your fitness center.

Your fitness center colors, logo, corporate identity package, website and other marketing materials are all a reflection of your brand; so familiar, cohesive design must be applied to all mediums. The goal is for your prospects to be able to glance at your material and instantly recognize who it’s from and what you stand for. When you achieve this, you’ve developed a powerful fitness center brand identity.

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