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Branding: What is it and Why is it So Important?


I am going to take a guess and state that you know what “branding” means and are aware of the importance of sticking to it. However, the problem many of us in the health club industry face is getting our staff to understand the importance of branding, and all that it entails.

When you talk about branding, do staff members stare at you with a confused look? They are most likely thinking, “What does my appearance or the flyer that I made to announce a new class have to do with the company logo?” Staff must understand what branding is, and how they are a part of your brand.

How do you get staff to understand that your brand does include your logo, but it also includes much more? The importance of their appearance, their actions, things they post in the club and the social media posts they make, are all part of the club brand. Here are a few things I do to get that messaging across.

  1. On-boarding.

I start by attending every new hire training we hold. I have a whole section on branding. I also do refreshers for staff members that have been with the club for some time. Communication is key. You need to talk to your staff about branding in a language they can understand. I keep it simple and explain to staff that yes, your logo is a part of your brand, but it is not the ONLY part of your brand. Your logo is a design that identifies your product and differentiates from other products. Your brand tells people who you are and what to expect from your club.

  1. Understanding the meaning of “brand.”

Your staff needs to know your brand is who you are. Your organization revolves around fitness, so you can’t have staff sitting in the club eating a lunch of pizza or cheeseburgers. What does this say to your members?

Employees are the people members hope will help show them how to lead a healthy lifestyle. That’s why your staff needs to understand that if they leave the club in a staff shirt and participate in unhealthy activities, they’re representing the club. Making all staff understand the meaning of branding is key.

  1. Develop brand absolutes.

Once all staff members are confident they understand what branding is, you must develop some brand absolutes for your club that reinforce who you are. That will help define their behavior. For example, “Escort, don’t point,” or “Make eye contact with every member.” I can’t say enough that communication is key. Not just communication, but simple communication that staff can understand and remember. Simple is an important word. Don’t give staff 20 brand absolutes they must remember. Develop no more than five brand absolutes so your staff can remember these easily.

  1. Educate, educate, educate your staff.

Develop training academies like a Social Media Training Academy. I have an academy where every staff member must get “social media certified” before they can become an admin on any social media account. Now if you are a one-location club, you may not have to do this, but we have nine locations and I cannot be at each location every day. As a result, I rely heavily on the staff at the locations for social media.

You must educate your staff on what branding is and then give them the tools they need to help reinforce your brand.

Donyel Cerceo

Donyel Cerceo is the director of marketing for Merritt Athletic Clubs. She can be reached at dcerceo@merrittclubs.com.

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