The Next Chapter in the Crunch Brand Story
In early May, Crunch launched a new campaign called “Crunch Life, Not Numbers.” Around the same time, it announced a new website and brand refresh.
Here, Chad Waetzig, the executive vice president of marketing and branding at Crunch, discusses the exciting changes going on at the growing fitness company, and the impact it has on Crunch’s brand story.
CS: What is the goal of the “Crunch Life, Not Numbers” campaign? What do you hope it will accomplish?
CW: Great marketing is, at its core, about storytelling. And at Crunch, we think we have a great story to tell. We were one of the first gyms to recognize the tremendous barrier many people feel about joining a gym — that they are intimidating, either by the unrealistic fitness and body image expectations the industry has been “selling” for years, or just by the very fact that gyms have all kinds of specialized equipment that looks complex and hard to operate. Most gyms scream, “we’re not for you.”
That’s what gave us the drive to introduce our “No Judgments” philosophy over 20 years ago. But once we get people over that barrier, we also realized that, for most people, working out is hard, and often very, very boring. So our fusion of entertainment and serious fitness uniquely makes exercise fun, building loyalty and passionate members. It’s those two storylines, Crunch’s “No Judgments” philosophy and “Making Serious Fitness Fun,” that we are looking to bring to life for consumers.
We think we’ve accomplished that. The “Crunch Life, Not Numbers” campaign reinforces “No Judgments” by taking something that surrounds us, and by which we are judged or measured every day — numbers — and turns it on its head in a fun and inspiring way that only Crunch can do. These numbers aren’t unattainable goals, or markers that are embarrassing or uneventful, but something to be celebrated.
And, speaking for the 10,000 employees and franchisees across our nearly 200 locations, we commit ourselves everyday to helping our members reach their goal and their inspirational number. The intentional irony is that a campaign that shuns numbers is all about numbers — and through that we bring in the quirky, fun, and sometimes provocative, voice that is at the heart of our brand. We do it with a wink and a nod.
CS: What can you tell me about the brand refresh? What are some of the keys changes and elements?
CW: We’re on a very exciting journey at Crunch. We’ve sold over 700 franchises and will open our 200th location later this summer. But despite all our success, we realize that we must continually innovate across all our member touch points to stay competitive against other big-box gyms, position ourselves and our proprietary group fitness programs, as a preferred alternative to high-priced boutique fitness concepts, and to remain an attractive investment to the franchise community. So our brand strategy is to refresh the brand, visually and physically, improve our approach to technology and better tell our story to members and prospects alike.
The refresh actually began with our new website. We’re pretty proud of what we’ve created, giving Crunch a fresh look at the first moment of truth for many coming into the brand for the first time. We then rebranded and segmented our product offering, with our 32 premium clubs in metro New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami becoming Crunch Signature locations. We’ve just started introducing Crunch Select, an offering that sits between our high value, low price Crunch Fitness and our premium Crunch Signature locations.
Later this year, members will see a new mobile app, improved online account management and class reservations. Lastly, we’ll preview a refreshed physical design of our clubs built around the premise of bringing more fun, energy and entertainment to the member experience.
CS: The website looks amazing. What features are you most excited about?
CW: Thanks — we’re pretty proud of it, too. The new design is primarily focused on three things. First, it was designed to be “mobile-first,” as over 50 percent of our online interactions with members and prospects comes from a mobile device. Second, we’ve focused on improving the ability to buy memberships online and to optimize our conversion rates. Lastly, we wanted to kick off our brand refresh and tell the Crunch story in a Crunchy, fun, and energetic way, but that is also on-trend for 2017.
There are lots of back-end architecture improvements that I’m really excited about that allow us to sell memberships across multiple locations using three different member management systems, plus the integration of a new marketing automation platform, but I won’t bore you with that. I really like our geolocation feature, that will typically start a user session with the nearest Crunch to your computer or phone’s IP address already identified.
CS: What advice could you share with other club operators who may be also looking into refreshing their brand?
CW: In a perfect world, a brand refresh would be vertical — implementing all the changes across the brand at one time. But sometimes that’s unrealistic, either because of physical constraints, budgets or other business conditions. If you want to refresh your brand, always start with the consumer/member in mind, build out your strategy and define your success criteria or desired outcomes. Once you have those in place, then create the roadmap or blueprint that will get you there.
CS: Is there anything else you’d like to add about the brand refresh or new campaign?
CW: I really appreciate the opportunity to tell our story. We love the fresh, new visual look of the campaign. We think it does a great job of breaking through the clutter of the sea of sameness across the category, while getting us back to that fun and unique voice that Crunch was known for. And by staying true to our “No Judgments” philosophy, we’re really engaging, and hopefully inspiring, prospects and members alike, creating compelling reasons to join a Crunch, or become a fierce advocate of the brand.