By Deneen Laprade, AFS Community Expert

“Your brand is possibly your most important attribute. It defines who you are, your values, your desires, your goals and your beliefs. It is the character of your company, from the inside out and how it is perceived from the outside looking in. It must work to develop credibility and foster trust in your business.”

This is taken directly from SKB’s website, it’s our philosophy on what a brand is and it is from this place that we work to develop a visual identity to uphold the brand and execute a strategy to reinforce and nurture it.

What is your brand? It’s certainly more than your logo. Your brand is the personality of your business. From your core beliefs spring your unique business practices, which communicate and reinforce the visual identity of your brand. The creative designs and messaging are therefore integral pieces of the whole, which is your brand. They reflect your beliefs, they are your image and they represent you out in the world.

Compare it to your personal style, your haircut and wardrobe. These two elements speak volumes about the type of individual you are. (Possibly stereotyping? Sure, but nonetheless, it is reality) Rarely do you encounter someone who appears to fit a particular way of life based on these elements, but lives a lifestyle that contradicts their appearance. As a rule, we look the part we play.

Often in business though, we find that a brand lacks a clear message that represents its core beliefs. The message is confusing or non-existent, at least as it relates to the visual representation of the brand.

Take this test. Spread 3 to 5 pieces from your most recent campaigns across your desk. Do they look like they come from the same club? Do they all have your logo? Are the colors exactly the same? Is the font the same? Chances are, your answers to these questions are “No”. Now pretend you’re a prospect who is unfamiliar with your business. Would you be able to say with 100% certainty that these campaigns are all from the same club? Likely not.

One of our primary objectives here at SKB is to help you create a brand identity that best represents your unique business. Beyond that, it’s about using that identity to create brand recognition and strength in your market. Ideally, you want all prospects to have two thoughts: The first is you want them to decide that fitness is something they need in their lives and then you immediately want your business to be their next thought and ultimately their choice.

The only way this happens is to have a powerful brand. What are the fundamentals of a powerful brand? Clear messaging, clean, compelling creative and specific offers that address the needs of your prospects are the foundation of a powerful brand. There is no such thing as one size fits all. Versatile campaigns, aimed at segments of your target demographic(s) must be deployed creatively and consistently.

The visual identity of your brand is probably the most powerful means of communicating who you are. There are, however; additional aspects of your brand that support the messages members and prospects receive through the marketing pieces you deploy. One key aspect is to align with your local community in such a way as to reinforce your message through your actions. Supporting local charities and your community at large is an expression of your core beliefs and unique business practices. This too sustains and empowers your brand.

Internal vs. external. They are both important to your brand strength. Embrace the fact that every single piece of marketing you produce is a representation of your business. It doesn’t matter that it’s ‘just’ a flyer at the front desk, it still speaks to the quality of your offerings, the professionalism of your organization as a whole and the level to which you care about your members and prospects.

Hire professionals. If you don’t have the expertise and/or the time to produce quality pieces, hire someone who can. Your role is to grow your business and to outsource all aspects of it that you can’t do well on your own. There may be areas you can skimp on but marketing collateral shouldn’t be one of them.

Be consistent. Find a theme that communicates your unique business practices and stick with it. In order to have brand recognition, there needs to be continuity amongst all the pieces you deploy. Get out there, frequently, often and in a variety of marketing vehicles and capacities until everyone knows your name. And then stay out there so they don’t ever forget.

Your brand is how you express your business personality. Think about what you want it to say, how it should look and the impression you want it to make. Then develop it, produce it and share it with the world.

Deneen is an accomplished, energetic leader in fitness and wellness with proven ability to create and manage effective marketing campaigns and programs that result in revenue growth, increased profits and member retention. Just as a carefully planned fitness routine, when combined with consistency nets results for clients, an effective marketing plan will do the same for fitness professionals and their businesses.

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