When Brent Gallagher was brainstorming names for his fitness studio, he recalled a piece of advice he’d learned from business books he’d read over the years: Don’t name your business after a specific location. With the studio set to open in West University Place, a suburb of Houston, he wrote down the name “West U Fitness” and next to it put the words “never.”
But soon after, it was time for Gallagher to register his business with the state, and he couldn’t think of a better name. So, he went with West U Fitness, thinking he’d change the name a few months later. “I was going to give it a few months, possibly through the end of the first year, and it took me 9.5 years to be able to come up with a new name,” he said.
Going through a name change can be an intimidating endeavor. Gallagher likened the process to the renaming of a child. “You have a kid, they’re 10 years old, you announce the name change and you have to sit back and go ‘oh boy,’” he said. “It’s one of those things you don’t want people to hate.”
To ensure the process went as smoothly as possible, Gallagher worked with CircleFifty, a brand positioning agency.
“Through the years we tried to work with multiple branding companies, but nothing stuck,” explained Gallagher. “That is until we began working with CircleFifty. They just blew us away as far as the presentation, the idea, the brand promises they delivered to us. They took the time to sit down and get to know us and get to know our community and really fully understand our story and the message we are trying to present. They came back with the new and improved name, Avenu Fitness & Lifestyle, which we have today.”
To announce the name change, Gallagher began slowly introducing it internally via social media and in-house marketing. Then, the studio closed down for its annual week off around July 4th, and re-opened the following Monday as Avenu Fitness & Lifestyle.
Gallagher explained the new name more closely represents the brand than the name “West U Fitness” did. The company strives to offer a total-wellness approach to members, providing support in not just fitness, but nutrition as well.
“Members loved the name change,” he said. “It was embraced as strongly as it could be.”
Gallagher’s Tips for Rebranding
- Have a good reason why. “That trumps everything. Are there good intentions behind it? Is it for the right reasons? When you agree upon the why, talk it over with your key leaders, your staff, your team, and make sure everyone is on board with it. This is just like adding a new program to your facility — if your team doesn’t believe in it, it’s going to be hard to sell.”
- Seek out professionals who have branding as their forte. “It may take a couple of times to find a good group who will understand your needs and story. With CircleFifty, we felt really comfortable moving onward with them because they understood who we were and knew the importance of branding.”