The True Costs of Changing Your Brand

Wooden cubes decorated with question marks, one is flipped over to reveal an 'idea' lightbulb - The True Costs of Changing Your Brand

I deaffiliated from CrossFit. But that’s not the right move for everyone.

As I wrote yesterday, my role as mentor to hundreds of gyms around the world isn’t to tell anyone what to do. It’s to help them get the information they need to make the best decision for their businesses.

Here, I’m going to share a list of work you’ll have to do if you ever change your brand.


The Catalyst Story


I founded Catalyst Fitness in 2005. We were a personal training studio with a beautiful downtown location.

In 2007, we found CrossFit. In 2008, two of my coaches from Catalyst began testing the program (they blogged about it as they did; here’s the first post). We affiliated a few months later.

To my reckoning, I was around the 1,100th affiliate. I wanted to be affiliated as “Catalyst CrossFit,” but Greg Everett already had that name. I called Affiliate Support and asked if I could also use it.

Old-timers will fondly recall how things were handled at CrossFit HQ back then: “Go ahead and ask Greg Everett. We’re cool with it if he is.”

So I called Greg Everett. He said, “Yeah, you’re way up there in Canada. Why don’t you be CrossFit Catalyst and I’ll stay Catalyst CrossFit?” So that’s what we did. When he deaffiliated a few years later, no one else picked up the Catalyst tag. If you’re thinking about affiliating today, it’s now available.

We quickly found out that not all our clients wanted to “do CrossFit.” In particular, the hockey teams we trained stopped signing up when we put “CrossFit” at the top of our rate quotes. And my personal training clients all asked why we were going to “force them to do CrossFit.”

Though I flew the CrossFit flag proudly for over 11 years, it was never my primary brand. Below, you’ll see how my sign looked three days ago. It’s an indication of how we presented CrossFit to our community: as the method we used for general group fitness coaching.


A green pylo sign in Sault Ste. Marie shows Catalyst Fitness and CrossFit before the gym deaffiliated.


The decision to deaffiliate was hard and took a long time, but in my case the actual change didn’t.

You won’t have to change your equipment. You won’t have to change your programming. Your insurance won’t change. But there are still very real costs to changing your brand.

You’ll have to make physical changes to things such as letterhead, orientation packages, internal/external signage and so on. All of that will take time and cost money. Digital changes (see below) can be made faster, but some won’t realize digital rebranding is a lot of work, too.

We’re here to support you regardless of what you choose.

Let’s start with the online changes you’ll need to make. In Part 2, I’ll talk about the harder work: telling a different story.


Digital Changes


This is courtesy of our friends at Gym Lead Machine:

For those of you who are still deciding, there are some second-order consequences we want you to be aware of.


Traffic Implications of Deaffiliating

1. If your current domain has “CrossFit” in it and you’re an older affiliate, you can expect a large decrease in organic traffic. If you’ve been operating as XYZ Fitness, home of CrossFit XYZ, you’ll experience less of a disruption in traffic if you disaffiliate.

2. If people find you by searching “CrossFit near me” or “CrossFit in (insert city),” you are much less likely to show up in those search results.

3. Competition for “gym near me” or “personal trainer in (insert city)” is five to 20 times more competitive than for CrossFit-related terms.


What to Do After You Deaffiliate

If you’re OK with the traffic consequences, you need to take some additional steps after you email CrossFit.

Next steps:


1. If you currently run your gym from a domain that has the word “CrossFit” in it, you’re going to need to get a new one. You’ll also need to update all your corporate email addresses, social profiles and Google Business listing. Here are some videos showing you what to do:


– Buying a new domain, setting up new emails, setting up email forwarding, granting your webmaster access to your new domain: click here.

– Updating Google My Business: click here.

– Updating your Facebook Page: click here.

– Updating your Yelp Page: click here.


2. If you currently use CrossFit in your logo, you’ll need a new logo.


– If you don’t have a plan for this, the fastest way to get a new logo is to use Fiverr.

– Make sure to pay a little extra to get the .ai file. It allows your web designer to edit it easily and optimize it for all the different areas of your website.


3. If you currently offer “CrossFit” as a class option on your website, you’ll need to change that to whatever you want to call your group offering.


4. If your about page or founder story says something like “Jimmy found CrossFit and was hooked ever since,” you might want to change the wording.


5. If there are specific mentions of CrossFit in other areas of the site, you may want to change them.


– If you’re not a GLM client, have your web developer use this plugin to scrub mentions of CrossFit from your site.


6. Once you create a new email for your business, you want to update all your opt-in guides and lead-capture forms to ensure you’re receiving lead notifications at your new email address.
The Catalyst Fitness sign in Sault Ste. Marie.


7. Update your logins for every piece of software that is associated with your CrossFit domain. You don’t want to be in a position where your security code or password reset instructions are being sent to a defunct email address.


8. Make sure your web developer sets up 301 redirects and updates Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics.


9. After all this is done, check your online presence using Moz’s online presence tool and ensure accuracy across all your directory listings.


Decide—Then Move Fast


If you’re thinking about changing your brand, you’ve probably gone through the same “dark night of the soul” that I did; the “knee-jerk reaction” claims simply aren’t true.

But when the decision is made, you’ll want to take action right away. Today, I shared how to change your brand. In Part 2, I’ll tell you how to change your story.


Other Media in This Series

How to Change Your Story
What’s in a Name?
What Does Affiliation Really Mean?


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.