The True Costs of Changing Your Brand in 2024

A bright blue paint roller on a yellow background with the word "rebranding?" on it.

On Nov. 30, CrossFit LLC announced it would increase affiliation fees at renewal for gyms around the world.

The amount of the increase varied depending on an affiliate owner’s current rate.

  • Some letters stated the increase was from US$2,000 to $4,500.
  • Others will move from $3,000 to $4,500, and so on.
  • On Facebook, old-school affiliate owners with legacy rates of $500 reported the increase would be tiered for them: the fee moves to $1,000 in Year 1 and $4,500 in Year 2.
  • Gyms in some areas of the world with weaker economies will receive smaller increases.

Another change: The licensee of record must now earn and maintain a CrossFit Level 2 credential. Those without the L2 designation must earn it within 12 months of signing the new license agreement. CrossFit is offering a $500 credit for credentialing.

My role as mentor to hundreds of gyms around the world isn’t to tell anyone to stay affiliated or to deaffiliate. Most business decisions come down to the numbers. This is a very personal choice.

My job is to help you get the information you need to make the best decision for your business.

If you want to remain affiliated, use HQ’s rate increase to prompt your own. Two-Brain gym owners: click here for the steps. Not in Two-Brain yet? Here’s an overview of the rate-increase process.

If you want to deaffiliate, do it with your eyes open—don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

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

Rebranding: What Does It Mean?

First, 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 if you decide that’s the best course.

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.

Your email address will need to change, and it’s guaranteed that you will forget to change at least one password associated with that email address. Prepare for that frustration.

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

Let’s start with the online changes you’ll need to make.

Digital Changes

This is courtesy of our friends at Kilo:

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 deaffiliate.

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 Profile. 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 Business Profile: 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 Kilo 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.

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. Got important correspondence in that email account? Forward it to another address you own or export your messages so you don’t lose anything. The same goes for any documents in drives associated with that email address. One client who rebranded in 2023 got almost everything backed up but missed an intake form that had to be rebuilt after a dead link was sent to several new clients.

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, I’d advise you to speak to your mentor first. Consider your options, calculate ROI on expenses and do what’s best for your family, your staff and your clients, in that order.

For some gyms, even a rate increase of $4,000 a year isn’t a big deal, and they see a return on that investment. In our internal group, many owners broke their rate increase down by month and determined it wasn’t significant.

Others ran the math and calculated how much new revenue they would need to cover the expense, and they made a plan to generate it.

And some gym owners didn’t see the return they wanted and were making plans to adjust their brand.

You’ll have to decide which path is right for you.

But when the decision is made, take action right away. Then start telling a new story.

Your New Story

When you open a business, you step onstage. Your website is your podium, and social media is your amplifier.

What will you say?

Will you share someone else’s message—their brand, their story, their media?

Will you publish your own message—your story, your clients’ stories, your own knowledge?

Will you say nothing—and what will you say through your silence?

Many CrossFit affiliates have relied on CrossFit LLC to produce the content that will educate local audiences. For a time, CrossFit Media was a huge part of the company. It produced videos, the CrossFit Journal, all the Games footage, all the speeches, daily blog posts—and most newcomers to CrossFit saw that material.

Now much of that output is gone. But everyday people looking for fitness didn’t stop paying attention or looking for answers to their fitness problems.

What filled the vacuum?

Well, smart gym owners fill the vacuum themselves. They write blog posts and shoot daily videos about diet and exercise. Some bring in photographers and camera crews. The primary benefit of CrossFit affiliation for most OGs—professionally produced, shareable content—has become DIY for the best gyms. And it works.

But many gym owners didn’t follow that plan. Most, like me, opened their gyms because they wanted to coach—not because they wanted to write blog posts or shoot YouTube videos about macronutrients.

If you deaffiliate, you can no longer rely on CrossFit media, or the CrossFit story. You’ll have to start telling your own.

Once Upon a Time …

Here’s how to get your message out:

1. Tell your story.

What made you want to open a gym in the first place? We’re all dying to hear that story—now more than ever. Write it down or sit in front of your phone and tell us. Post the blog or video on your website and link to it on your social media channels. That’s one rep. Thousands more to go, but you’ve done the first one!

2. Tell three clients’ stories.

Grab them after a session or meet up for a coffee. Ask them:

“Why did you choose my gym in the first place?”

“What’s your best story about this gym?”

“What advice would you give to the person you were a year ago?”

Post their stories. Use your platform to make them famous.

3. Teach something.

Write a blog or record a video that will help one person in your audience. Don’t overthink it (my first posts were all about linear versus conjugate programming—you can do far better).

Write about:

  • “What is protein?”
  • “Why should grandmothers lift weights?”
  • “How often should you run if you want to lose weight?”
  • “Why abs are made in the kitchen.”

When in doubt, walk to the drugstore, look at the magazines and steal ideas from the titles.

Remember: Your audience doesn’t know what you know. Not even a little bit.

Building Your Brand With Stories

The stories you tell are the cornerstone of your brand. Whether you’re a CrossFit affiliate or an F45 franchise, you need to tell your story or you’ll always be shouting on someone else’s stage—and they’ll decide when to draw the curtain on you.

Your Business 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 frame.

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

If your gym name is “CrossFit 90210”, and you drop CrossFit affiliation, your name doesn’t make much sense anymore. The “CrossFit” name provided the frame for what you sell.

Even if you keep doing thrusters and burpees for time, outsiders won’t understand what you’re selling. Even if you’re doing CrossFit without the name, you’ll be invisible to those looking for CrossFit.

Will you be more appealing to those who don’t want CrossFit? Maybe. But “90210 Fitness” doesn’t differentiate you from other gyms.

  • 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?

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 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.

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?

To learn more about how a mentor can help you make smart decisions based on data, click here to book a call.


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.