We’re not exercising at Catalyst tonight. We’re having pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw and beer. We’re doing an Escape Room challenge to close out our Intramural Open.
No one will count our macros. No one will speed-dial Robb Wolf, or thumb to the appropriate passage of The Primal Blueprint to lecture us on the barbecue sauce.
I host these events–and pick up the tab–every quarter or so. Every time I do, I ask myself, “Am I sending the wrong message here? Should I really be telling people that it’s okay to eat this stuff, drink this stuff, and skip their workout?”
“Am I REALLY a fitness coach?”
Then I think, “Maybe I should change our name from Catalyst Fitness to The Catalyst Club or something.” I do a Google search. Sometimes I even register a domain name on GoDaddy (I have over 60 URLs registered because of big ideas like this.)
And then I think, “It took me thirteen painful years to carve out the brand we have.”
Your brand isn’t your website. Your logo, site, Facebook page–that’s just the candy coating.
Your brand is the way you behave. It’s the reason the coaches at Catalyst wear Catalyst shirts when they’re coaching, and not Rogue shirts or Toronto Blue Jays hats.
It’s the reason every client receives the same coaching and care for the same price. It’s the reason I don’t have to apologize for inconsistencies in coaching or value or toilet paper placement.
My brand is the reason I want my staff to park out back instead of the primo parking spaces up front. It’s the reason I want every light in our big gym on before any clients pull up to the door. And it’s the reason teenaged girls draw green arrows on their arm when they’re bored in math class.
They do those things because my branding is clear and consistent.
I’ve used the same green arrow since I wrote a client’s food plan in 2002. We were Catalyst before we were CrossFit, but both words are proudly displayed on our outdoor signage.
Over the years, I’ve had dozens of ideas for rebranding. Like many ADHD entrepreneurs, I fall in lust with new ideas and quickly convince myself that I need to do this new thing. But over time, I’ve learned to give every new brand idea a full month: if I love it, I’ll ask myself how to build a new sub-brand. If I don’t love it after a month…well, ruraldiet.com is for sale, if you want it.
Nike doesn’t change its brand every time it sponsors a new star. Air Jordan is a sub-brand, and no one confuses the two. Nike doesn’t drop the Swoosh and use a lightning bolt every time a designer wakes up with a head cold. Coke doesn’t drop the vowels in its name because “Ck” is the hipster fashion for July 1-18, 2018. Clarity and consistency, over years, builds your brand.
Your brand is more than what you say. It’s what you DO. And if my brand is going to be “The Happy Gym”, my focus should be on “Happy”.
If I’m going to say “It’s okay to be imperfect”, then I need to celebrate imperfection in an awesome way.
In the end, THEY determine my brand. And that determination is based on what I do, not which colors I pick or what font I use or which new name I like this week.
Your mistakes come and go. Your methods might change. But your brand will if it’s consistent and clear.