What is gym branding, and how can you create a strong brand for your gym or fitness center?

As the marketplace becomes more crowded and competitive, each business has to work hard at finding its niche. Twenty years ago, a neighborhood might have had only one gym and marketing simply meant letting people know the gym existed. 

Today, people have more choices. Your marketing needs to communicate exactly what kind of gym you are and who your target audience is. That’s where branding comes in. Your branding lets people know — at a glance — whether you’re the welcoming and supportive gym for beginners, the serious gym for athletes, the prestige gym for the social elite, or the affordable gym for everyone else.

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To reach your target market quickly and effectively, you’ll need to understand these topics related to branding: 

  • What is gym/fitness center branding? 
  • Why is branding important for gyms/fitness centers?
  • What is branding used for and when is it used?
  • How to define your gym’s brand
  • What are the elements of gym branding?
  • Tips for great branding
  • Your brand kit

What is gym/fitness center branding? 

Your branding is your gym’s public image. It tells your audience what your gym is all about, who your customers are, and what makes you special. 

When all the elements of your business come together to create a cohesive image that people easily identify, you have a strong brand. You and your team communicate your brand every time you make a social media post, answer the phone, update the website, send an email, or buy new equipment and supplies. 

If you’re not deliberately strengthening your brand image every time you interact with the public, then you may be weakening it. 

Why is branding important for gyms/fitness centers?

gym branding
This image might appeal to bodybuilders — but it could be intimidating to a middle-aged person looking for an aerobics class.

The gym and fitness center business is competitive. To succeed, you need to convince your target audience that your gym is the right one for them. A strong brand identity will infuse everything, from your choice of paint colors to your social media posts, with a message that brings the right customers to you. 

For instance, imagine that you’ve moved to a new neighborhood, and it has three gyms. One uses a lot of pink and rose colors in its marketing. The logo includes a flower, and all the photos on its social media channels are of pretty women enjoying aerobics and spinning classes. 

The second gym has a logo that looks like it’s made of steel. All its advertising features black-and-white images of sweaty male and female athletes pumping iron. 

The third gym has the tagline “Mind • Body • Spirit” and uses a lot of carefully stacked rocks and lotus blossom images. All the people in its advertising are wearing loose-fitting white outfits and a lot of them are balanced on one leg or are in tai chi poses.

Which gym is right for you? Maybe none of them. But can you guess what kind of equipment and services each one offers, just from the colors and images? That’s branding and when it’s done well it helps your customers know that you’re the right gym for them.

What is branding used for and when is it used?

Imagine your brand personality as a bucket of paint you can apply to different areas. You want to dip your brush in that paint and apply it to everything your customers — and potential customers — might see. That includes:

  • Website
  • Social media
  • Emails
  • Advertising
  • Sign/window clings
  • Reception area
  • Vehicles, if you have them
  • Billboards
  • The way your staff answers the phone
  • Staff uniforms

Make branding as easy for yourself as possible. For instance, Constant Contact offers templates for your emails — you can create a branded variation and use it every time you send an email. 

How to define your gym’s brand

gym branding
This image would appeal to a very different audience from the bodybuilder-themed one above.

The most powerful brand is as simple as a swoosh logo, but reaching that level of simplicity requires a lot of thought.

Start with your customers:

  • Who are your target customers? (Be specific.)
  • What do they want from a gym?
  • What colors, elements, and words do they associate with working out?

Then think about your business:

  • What makes your gym different from others in your area?
  • What are the main selling points that make you unique?
  • If your business were a person or a cartoon character, what would it look and sound like?
  • Can you distill your business’s personality into a word or short phrase?

Consider these word pairs. Where does your business fit in?

  • Casual — formal
  • Earthy — sophisticated
  • Friendly — elegant
  • Feminine — masculine
  • Traditional — innovative
  • Grounded — artistic

The more clearly you can define your brand’s personality, the more successful you’ll be at distilling it into a few images, colors, and elements.

What are the elements of gym branding?

gym branding
Color choices tell a customer a lot about who you are.

Your goal is to express your brand so that it’s readable at a glance. These elements can be used across all media and in every interaction with the public:

  • Colors. Gray and blue are masculine, traditional colors, while orange and yellow are vibrant and innovative. Red signals power, and white means purity. Green often signifies nature or money. 
  • Fonts. Heavy, bold fonts give a very different image from light, airy ones.
  • Logo. The perfect place to bring your color and font choices together, your logo can also incorporate a symbol or tagline. It will serve as a foundation for all your design choices. (Constant Contact has a tool to help you create the perfect logo, if you don’t have one yet.)
  • Signature images. Choose powerful images that your target customers will relate to — including photos of people who look like them. Be consistent in the types of images you use across all your advertising, media, posters on your walls, etc., so people will always recognize you. 
  • Design elements. Rectangles, circles, spirals, heavy lines, and patterns can help define your brand. For instance, Adidas uses three lines consistently across all its clothing lines, while Nike consistently uses its swoosh symbol.
  • Language. Be deliberate in your choice of tagline and phrases. Use carefully chosen language that reflects your brand in all your social media posts, emails, and marketing. Train your staff to use branded language when they answer the phone or greet customers.

Tips for great branding

Good branding tells potential customers who your gym is for and what it can do for them. Great branding creates strong bonds with customers. When your brand has a very strong identity, it can inspire strong feelings of loyalty, identification, and a bond similar to friendship or family. 

People like their neighborhood grocery store, but they feel love and passion for Trader Joe’s. They like their corner gas station, but they might fight you if you insult their Harley-Davidson. 

A great brand is aspirational — it represents what its customers dream of becoming. Perhaps Trader Joe’s suburban customers dream of being eccentric foodies with global tastes. Maybe Harley-Davidson owners dream of being tough and free.

What do people who join your gym dream of?

  • Physical strength
  • Athletic performance
  • Great body/attractiveness
  • Good health
  • Long life
  • Making friends
  • Having status
  • Being accepted/loved

People build strong bonds with brands that have strong identities, like Apple, Coke, or Pepsi. They will defend their favorite brands and stick with them even when the brand isn’t delivering — like a favorite sports team in a slump. 

You can’t build that kind of bond with people if you’re trying to attract everyone as your client or if you’re imitating other businesses. If you want to create a brand that people will connect with deeply, you have to know exactly who your customers are and be creative in building a brand that reflects their identities.

Your brand kit

Once you’ve made decisions about the elements that define your brand, collect them in a document that you can use for reference and share with anyone who creates social media posts, content, graphic design, or advertising for your business. 

Your brand kit should include:

  • A detailed description of your target customer
  • A few words that describe your brand’s identity
  • The exact colors you’ve chosen for your brand (using Pantone numbers or hex codes)
  • Your primary and secondary fonts
  • Any variations of your company name that are acceptable to use
  • Your tagline
  • Keywords and phrases that should be repeated in all your marketing
  • A few signature images that you use
  • Any shapes, symbols, or elements that represent you
  • A description of what your graphic design should look like (bold, airy, etc.)

Store your logo, signature images, and design elements as design assets in Constant Contact as well, so you’ll have them at your fingertips when you create landing pages, emails, and other marketing tools. 

Moving forward

You’ve done a lot of work to define your gym’s branding and incorporate it in all your marketing. As you go forward, you’ll continue to refine your brand and tweak your messaging to build an even stronger relationship with your customers. 

Download our fitness marketing guide to learn more about communicating your brand identity through digital marketing tools like your website, email campaigns, and social media posts.