When it comes to building a powerful brand, you need a roadmap. And that roadmap is your Box’s mission.
“It’s definitely crucial to have one. It’s like saying, ‘I want to go to Las Vegas, but I have no idea where it is,’” said Dallin Frampton, the owner of CrossFit Spearhead in Holladay, Utah. “You need to have a roadmap.”
From the beginning, Spearhead had a clear vision — written down in about three sentences — and Frampton refers back to that roadmap at every turn his business takes.
In order to determine his brand, Wil Vicinus, the founder of Fearless Athletics in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, asked what type of athlete he wanted his gym to draw in, and the word he landed on was “fearless.” From there, the logo, the name of his business and how he runs his multiple CrossFit Boxes is determined by that question’s answer.
Plus, by having Fearless Athletics as the overarching brand of Vicinus’ Boxes — CrossFit South Philly and CrossFit Penn’s Landing — the founder explained it sets them apart. The name and brand Fearless Athletics stands out in a saturated market of gyms labeled as CrossFit Boxes.
The brand also allows for Vicinus to reach those in the community who may be intimidated by CrossFit. “We love CrossFit, and it forms a lot of the foundations of our program, but part of what we wanted to do is we wanted to have offerings that are a little bit more accessible to people who aren’t necessarily into CrossFit,” he explained. “That’s why we have the brand Fearless Athletics, and that offers non-CrossFit offerings.”
As the industry evolves, so will your brand. Andrew Essig, the owner of CrossFit Gambit in St. Louis, Missouri, said his brand is organic, evolving and adapting to stay relevant. However, like Vicinus and Frampton, Essig said to never lose sight of what your brand was initially founded on. “We try to stay focused on what made our brand in the first place,” he said. “The coaching and customer service that got us this far will always be paramount. We have stellar ratings on Google, Yelp and Facebook, and I think that speaks to how well we value the fundamentals.”
Just as the mission of your business matters from the very beginning, so does how you present your brand. Essig said you shouldn’t skimp on image. Even though it’s never fun to spend money on design when starting a Box, invest in a professionally designed logo and website from the very beginning.
“You don’t have to break the bank, but your logo, T-shirt and website are your face to the world, so make sure you’re happy with it,” said Essig. “I chose a unique company name, spent a lot of time getting a logo done right, and getting a website that is as functional as it is stylish. I think our brand says that we steer clear of gimmicks and we know what we’re selling and know what we’re doing.”
Branding, said Frampton, is the biggest proponent for getting new members in your door. He explained he only hires the best photographers and videographers in order to make his brand visually attractive. Then by utilizing those photos and videos on his Box’s social media, he is able to highlight Spearhead’s main focus: its members.
For example, Frampton has a social media campaign called Humans of Spearhead. He will ask members why they keep coming back to the Box, and then post their answers on social media. This helps build a virtual community. “Establishing a following on [social media] is paramount, and then utilizing the people in your inner circle that follow you to continually push your brand,” he said. “That’s why we’ve had such great success with the Humans of Spearhead, because being able to pinpoint and really spotlight these different, incredible members inside the gym then makes them want to share that with their other friends.”
Frampton continually checks back on the customers’ needs in order to figure out how his brand can best serve them. While he said it takes a long time to establish a great brand, it’s a worthwhile process, because in the end, that’s what differentiates your business.
And if you know your brand, you know exactly how to reach your market. Vicinus said your brand can’t be all things to all people. In Philadelphia, a city full of great Boxes, he said that’s what has helped him and the other gyms in the area thrive. “If you know what your niche is, you can cast a smaller net with better results,” he said.