In this episode, Matt and Rick discuss the steps and challenges of building a great brand. Building a great brand that stands the test of time is not easy. Listen in as we walk you through how we built our brand.
A brand is more than just the name and logo. Building a relevant brand takes time and effort. There is a lot that goes into it. Initially, you have to decide what the brand has to do and the promise it has to deliver. Eventually, if you do everything right and deliver on the promise, the brand will take a life of its own. You’ll get some people who will champion for the brand and take it to the next level.
Rick takes us through the process of branding he went through from the early stages when his gym was known as Good Bodies Personal training which was a good name back then. This was until one of the subcontractors in the gym left with some clients to start a gym known as better bodies. Rick had to change the name to NorthPoint Fitness. This went on for a while till the licensing business began and the name had to change. That’s when Alloy Personal Training business was born after a long process.
The name was just the start, trademark rights, branding and launching were to follow which took about four and a half months. Having done with the logistics of branding, delivering on the promise was the most important thing. You can have a good sounding name and branding but delivering on the promise is what counts.
Listen in to learn about how you deliver on the brand promise and the customer experience and grow your brand.
- How to build a brand (02:35)
- How we started our gym back in the day when it was called Good Bodies(03:31)
- Rebranding to Northpoint fitness (06:02)
- Searching for a new name that we could trademark for our licensing model (07:28)
- Settling on the Alloy Personal Training Business name (10:48)
- Delivering on the promise of the Alloy brand (17:00)
- How long it takes to build a brand (24:33)
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Mentioned in this episode
How to build a brand. I think a lot of people when they think of a brand, they think of just a logo or a name. That is certainly part of it. There’s a lot to building a brand. It takes time. More importantly, it’s not easy to build a relevant good brand, especially one that’s going to stand the test of time.
We’ll start with how we built a brand, the nuts, and bolts. Literally the logistics of how to build it, then what that brand has to do because you have to deliver on the promise. All the logos, fonts, and pictures in the world aren’t going to do it for you. If you don’t deliver and then ultimately your brand will then take a life of its own. You’ll have folks out there who will champion that brand and to take it a step further. Those are sort of the three steps to building a solid brand. It takes time and it’s not easy, but I’m going to lay it out for you guys as best as possible.
We opened here in the 90s and it was still muscle pants and fanny packs or bum bags depending on what part of the world you are when you’re listening to this. We named our gym good bodies. It was a personal training gym, only 1500 feet, and at the time that was like a super dope name. Good bodies like everybody wants a good body, right? It’s so clever. Oh my gosh, we had to carpet and all these machines and stuff. I have a ton of pictures. I think I’ve posted on social media, the picture of my original crew, like two days before we opened. We all had a mullet.
I’ve told the story a million times, but I had a disgruntled employee that was leaving. He was was actually not an employee was 1099 subcontractor and he was taking some business with him. I’ve talked at nauseam about how we fixed that. That became the system for the company that we now have. At the time, it was a big deal because he had a lot of clients and we were really small.
We evolved a little bit and we started offering more than just one on one personal training. And so we felt like we needed to drop the specification of what we were good bodies, the Personal Training Center. So it was like, well, maybe we’ll name it based on we were just one gym still. We’d expanded at this point to our current size I believe, close to it. We rebranded to North Point, which is our local area and everything around here is called North Point. There’s a massive popular church called North Point, there are a mall and car dealerships, everything around here is North Point. So we named it NorthPoint fitness, which was more of a departure from the specifics because now we were in a bigger space and we could do lots of layers of things. We looked at ourselves more like fitness and less of personal training.
We had our hiccup in business, we systemized, we built our way back. We’ve talked about this in different podcasts. When we landed on this licensing model, we were still branded as NorthPoint. The first few licensees that we had were big gyms that were dropping our personal training systems into their gym as a better option than what they had.
They were saying, “Hey, you know, I need some marketing like what do I call this thing?” It was like, well just call it NorthPoint, like it’s your systems were just powering it. But what I failed to realize at the time is the branding for them was very important.
So you could pick a name, and you’d be given two or three choices at the end, you could still pick a name and that name, may or may not be able to get that trademark. So we start the process and it’s almost like an emotional journey because you’re kind of building this brand and what it’s about and they take you as far as they can in one direction far as they can in another direction.
We needed a brand as you can imagine, now we’re licensing so we need a brand that works for a business to consumer, so b2c, and business to business. We come up with a few choices, and one of those is our current brand name which is Alloy. I remember thinking that is the dumbest name. We paid all this money and went through six weeks of torture to come up with this name Alloy, but it was available to be trademarked. And then when you really look at what Alloy is, it’s nothing without a combination of materials. If you look at the true definition we’ve got, I’ve got it on my office wall as a graphic, combining metals or things to make things stronger. The meaning of Alloys is really cool. Alloy doesn’t exist unless you combine things together.
That made sense for us. We have to be together to help people in the gym. We also have to be together to help people with their business. Ultimately I really liked it. It grew on me.
That’s how we got the name. Then we had to go and chase the trademark rights to it, which we got, and all that. But remember, that’s all we have now. It’s just a name. There are no colors, there’s no nothing. So then we hire a company here in Atlanta, that’s a branding firm. They’re going to take the name Alloy and build a brand around a name. That was it. That was another 75 grand. We’re 100 K. By that time we had built what looks something like super simple and mind you we were a really small business. To me at that point in time, that was a lot of money. It’s a big chunk change. It’s nothing to a big fortune 500 company, but to us, it was a big deal.
It takes about a month going down once a week and there are storyboards and we’re going through all these exercises and it is a lot of fun. Think about it, who are your biggest fans? Lunchers, why do you enjoy them? Who do you think you are to your customer? Who would you say your customer thinks that you are to them.
The only thing I’d ever contributed creatively was the stronger together part. When you think about the fact that Alloy is not anything without combining elements, it is literally stronger together, right? Plus, that worked really well for our customers. I like the word strong as well. And it also worked really well for our businesses. If we work together, we’re stronger and you work with your customers, and we’re all stronger together.
We went stronger together. Then we built fonts that matched its colors. We built the logo, and the logo is the two pillars. If you look at our logo, it almost looks like a triangle. But if you really look at it, it’s two pillars that are leaning against each other. So those are simple little triangles, which by the way, a triangle is the most recognizable type of logo.
Circles are good, look at Target and those types of folks. Even Starbucks has kind of a circle to their graphic. Circles are good, but triangles are the number one most recognizable type of logo. I don’t know if they took that into account, but it’s basically a triangle and it’s essentially two pillars leaning on each other cool, which speaks to stronger together. Then it was images, you know, what type of images again, colors, font images, and they gave us a few graphics design ideas for things like waterfalls and T-shirts and things like that.
That process was probably four and a half months total. Then, you know, we launched the brand, and then we had to wait for the trademarking. For the name six weeks, and then it was basically several more months with everything else.
It’s simple, easy to recognize the logo, easy to recognize the colors are easy to recognize, and that’s really key. That’s how we did it nuts and bolts wise that’s it. That’s the logistics of building a brand.
The next phase and the most important thing is how do you deliver on the brand. As you know, looking at the history of the names of businesses. They don’t mean much when they start, none of them do. If we had come up with Alloy, and these pillars and stronger together and all these ideas about what we liked, and then took it to market and didn’t deliver on those on that brand promise, then it wouldn’t have mattered. Our brand would have meant whatever it could have meant low quality, it could have meant all these things to people. An example of that would be Starbucks.
Starbucks was named after a character in the book, Moby Dick. What does that have to do with coffee? Well, nothing. It was just that, you know, the creator liked the book and like this character and thought it was an interesting name. So they name it Starbucks. Well, then, where the brand is really built is in phase two, once you pick your brand and your colors and those things, and those are really important, but there are people that can help you with that. The hard part is what do you deliver under that banner that really becomes the brand.
Starbucks then becomes a great atmosphere right? At this point, really disgusting coffee. At the time, I think it was pretty good. At least it’s a consistently mediocre cup of coffee. For your business, it means to be able to deliver on what you envisioned as the brand promise.
If you’re just a small mom and pop gym the local manifestation of that would be clients referring people or clients championing you posting online. We are brick and mortar owners. Meaning we get to see our brand manifested with consumers and with businesses. One of the things we do is “Where’s Waldo” summer contest, and people are rocking their Alloy shirts in the Alps, or Italy on the Amalfi Coast or something like that. It’s just super cool to see that they’re still that well knitted together with Alloy. Stronger together, all these things combined.
To see the businesses claiming better revenues and lower expenses and the fact that they can retain coaches now. Then from business to business standpoint, it’s the coaches themselves the examples I just used him, like people that are actually delivering every day, what Alloy produces to their customers, and our raving fans, you know those are the folks you want to prop up. You want to promote them as much as possible. They’re ultimately telling you, hopefully, what you want to hear which you’ve done, you’ve built a brand.
Other examples of that in our industry would be like Les Mills as an example. What they’ve done to build a brand is that they do group exercise programming, and they license the clubs, but they certify the instructors as well. In that, they really have two markets. They’re also providing things to the end-users. But they’ve got a license to the club that can run it. They’re one of their big markets as the instructors and I’ve been to a Les Mills event, and to see how much they take care of that flock of people and how much pride there is to be part of that brand.
If you’re getting accolades for what you’re doing you need to pay attention to that to a certain degree. Obviously, you’ve got to filter that feedback. However, if your instructors are telling us that our brand means something else then we should probably look strongly into that. If it’s positive or worse, right? When you look at Alloy and “stronger together”. Why have we gone back to personal training? That speaks more to stronger together than group training classes.
When you look at what we do, and we really lean on, like movement, quality, and real strength training and overall lifestyle, eating well, and just moving more in general, not necessarily getting to the gym and just doing some crazy metabolic workout twice a week and expecting that to change your quality of life. That’s what I think carries through to stronger together. So I mean, listen, I could talk about this all day, but it gets a bit redundant. At the end of the day, you guys, that’s how you build a brand. You do need to come up with a name and the logos and that’s the fun part. It can be pricey if you want to do it right. I’d say it’s worth it. Certainly, if you have aspirations to take that brand out to a bigger audience.
Then if you do that, right, that third phase where people will then reflect back to you what your brand is, will really tell you, because you might think it’s one thing. However, those people reflect back to you what your brand really is. If you’ve landed on it, you need to promote those people and just keep going back to the well and use that as fuel for your team to say. This is in the trenches work that we’re doing. This is how it’s manifested on the back end. So let’s keep up the great work. And that’s just fuel for your team to kick back to that middle section again and grind it out.