Branding 101: Clarity > Art

A row of colored paintbrushes lie on a canvas below the words "clarity above art."

Nobody understands you.
No one sees the world exactly the way you do.
No one has the same context, the same lens, the same internal dialogue.
No one can decode your artwork. In most cases, your creativity confuses people.
If you own a business, that means lack of clarity is costing you money. This is the principal message of “Building a StoryBrand,” one of our Top Books of 2019. On Two-Brain Radio on Jan. 30, you’ll hear about Certified Two-Brain Mentor Jay Williams’ experience at and top lessons from the StoryBrand Workshop.
Now, I’ve made every possible mistake when it comes to branding:

  • I had the black website with skulls on it.
  • I had the pictures of ripped hands on my Facebook page.
  • I flew the pirate flag above my desk.
  • I had the one-day “free trial” class with 300 squats in it.
  • I had the T-shirts with insider jokes and quotes (still do, because I couldn’t sell any of them).
  • I had blood on my bars.
  • I had the offensive music blasting.
  • I had chalk all over the floor.
  • I had 30 different options on my website.
  • I did my No Sweat Intros right after a workout.
  • (If I don’t stop here, I’ll keep going for hours.)


Lessons Learned

Here are the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn about branding:

1. Your client is the hero of the story. You are his or her guide.

Your business exists to glorify your clients. Your job is to help them determine their goals, reach them and help them celebrate their accomplishments. That doesn’t mean a high-five after class; it means podiums. If you’re not going way above and beyond to celebrate their success, they’ll probably miss it.

2. You think people want what you want. They don’t.

You are not your own best customer. Your best customers are probably a bit older than you are. They might earn more than you currently do. Their top priority isn’t fitness. Their schedule is more important than their mobility to them (they’d rather get back to their desk after lunch than stretch for five more minutes). The top lesson you can learn about branding is this: Let your clients tell you what they like. This is so important that I’ll devote the next post in this series to it.

3. It’s all about the story.

I’ve written about “mapping the client journey” many times on this blog (here’s a podcast episode about it). For maximal long-term success, a client must know what to expect next, be guided through the dark parts and ultimately feel there’s a happy ending coming.

4. Clarity is more important than art.

Your website and your ads will convert better if they say “We Are a Gym” than if they say “The Unrelenting Pursuit of Excellence in Movement.” All your media should pass the “stranger” test: Can you show your website to a stranger for three seconds and then have the person tell you what you sell? If not, you’re unclear. Not because people spend three seconds on a website but because that’s how long it takes for them to form an impression of what you do and who you are. You want to communicate two things: How you can solve their largest problem and how they can get started. That’s it.

5. Consistency is more important than everything.

My teenage daughter jokes all the time about my behavior being “on brand” when I do a typical dad thing. She means “You’re confirming your stereotype, Boomer.” And that’s okay: my predictability means she trusts me. Before people can give you their money, they have to know you, like you and trust you. Trust comes from consistency and predictability. If clients know you’ll always treat them fairly, they’ll trust you. If they think you give “special deals” to some and not to others, or if you don’t always start class on time, or if one coach is far better than all the others, they’ll trust you less. Read “Stand by Your Brand” for more on that.

Branding: Focus on the Client

I write about these things over and over because I screwed them up. I don’t want you to screw them up. It’s my mission to make gym owners wealthy. You will never become wealthy if your branding doesn’t appeal to your audience.
Want one more great read? Here’s “What Iron Maiden Can Teach You About Brand Building” on our Two-Brain Media site.
The best brands in the world don’t reflect their owners’ tastes. The best brands always come from the question, “What do our clients want?”

Other Media in This Series

Branding 101: Are You Poisoning Your Brand?
Branding 101: What Are They Hiring You to Do?
StoryBrand: Can It Help You Acquire More Clients?
Branding for Farmers, Founders, Tinkers and Thiefs


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.