What’s in a Name?

A wooden sign hanging outside a brick building inscribed 'What's In A Name?"

The stories you tell paint the picture of your business.

Your gym’s name is the frame for that picture.

When you change your brand, you change your name.

Here’s where it gets complicated: The frame changes how people see the picture inside.

If your gym name is “Ed’s Pilates Studio” and I don’t want to do Pilates, then I won’t pay much attention to the picture, right? The frame told me everything I needed to know.

But changing the frame won’t change my mind. Renaming the gym “Ed’s Studio” might get me to look at the picture, but if the picture inside is all about Pilates, then I’ll still move on if that’s not what I want.

However, maybe the story I’m looking for is core stability and relief from back pain. Without the frame of “Pilates,” maybe the story I see appeals to me. The frame and the picture work together to create your brand.

Changing your name is more than buying a new logo on Fiverr, though. As I shared in Part 1 of this series, the really painful costs of a name change are:

– Loss of SEO.

– Loss of audience familiarity (I’ll tell you how to minimize that here).

– Loss of story (who are you when you’re not called Ed’s Pilates anymore?).

You have to weigh these losses against your reason for changing. But if you do change your name, I’ll give you three ways to change your frame.


The Grok Test


If you’re a gym, call yourself a gym.

If you’re a coaching business, say so.

If you sell CrossFit, call yourself CrossFit.

If you don’t sell CrossFit, don’t.

Clarity is more important than art. People can’t decipher your meaning and won’t try. You must pass the “Grok test”: Can someone understand what you sell in two seconds or less after hearing your name?


Three Points of Contact


If you’re changing your name, try to keep elements of the old name if possible.

For example, I went from “CrossFit Catalyst” to “Catalyst Fitness.” That was easy, because people in Sault Ste. Marie just say, “I go to Catalyst.” No change for them.

Follow the rock-climber’s mantra: Three points of contact. Only change one small thing at a time. If you’re CrossFit XYZ, you’re better to go to XYZ Fitness than to Bulldog FTNS.


What Are People Looking For?


No one is searching for “functional movement” in your city.

Your name should describe the benefit your best clients were seeking when they found you. I doubt many will do it, but calling yourself “Ed’s Weight Loss” is actually a good idea—if your best clients all showed up looking to lose weight.

Build your name around the benefit of your service, not the features. For example, “Ed’s Barbell” isn’t as good as “Ed’s Strength Training.”

The first sign on my CrossFit gym said “Catalyst Athletic and CrossFit.” I had a few athletes as clients, but my best clients were doctors, teachers and lawyers. They didn’t want “athletic training” or CrossFit. So my name turned away most of the people who would have been my best clients. Duh.

Remember: Name your business according to what your clients want to achieve, not what you want to do when they’re not around.


Make Your Plan and Tell Your Tale


People buy stories. Stories paint a picture in their minds. Your name is how they frame that story.

Will it encourage them to look deeper or look elsewhere?


Other Media in This Series

The True Costs of Changing Your Brand
How to Change Your Story
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.