Personal Branding Revisited
This is a follow-up piece to my recent post about Personal Branding for Fitness Entrepreneurs. There’s a lot to cover in the topic, as well as about branding in general. Also, once you have it as part of your entrepreneurial mindset, branding is as powerful as a clean and tidy gym in drawing new members through your front door.
As a fitness professional and business founder, you should consider that your personal name is an asset worth building, as well as the brand of your gym business company. If some big box fitness brand offers you many millions (It could happen) to sell, and you do, what then?
Why it Matters to Build a Personal Brand
If your whole reputation and public persona is entirely invested in that one business, you have to start again from zero the next time around. The fact is, a strong personal brand will help you find the collaborators, investors, and buyers. Once you have cultivated your l public persona, it makes both brands shine a little brighter, and it eases your access for future projects and partnerships.
The gym business has plenty of strong brands, landmark names like Weider Fitness, Golds Gym, and the Arnold Classic, and new names like SoulCycle, Spartan, Equinox, and Peloton. You immediately recognize these names if you are interested in the fitness services and products they provide.
Branding is a discipline to make companies and people recognizable. Creating a brand that appeals to the audience of your potential and present membership is vital to the success of any fitness club in the long-term.
Combining Brands for Exponential Fitness Marketing Growth
It is also something that fitness entrepreneurs have used on a personal level to promote themselves. Founders like Joe Weider, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Joe De Sena have all used their names to launch products and companies.
Having a strong personal brand is an excellent tool for fitness entrepreneurs. It is also something that works and plays well with other brands. Combinations of brands establish authority in a feedback loop of recognition and consumer goodwill.
The relationship between Spartan and its founder Joe De Sena is an excellent example of how this combination of a personal and company brand makes both bigger and stronger than either can be alone.
One Personal Brand and Many Recognizable Companies
People like people, they feel more comfortable if there is a relatable person behind a brand. The big box fitness brands. If you have a distinct brand from your company, you are free to step beyond it.
However, you may wish to leverage the branding of your company to give credibility to your newest projects. The example of Sir Richard Branson and Virgin is my favorite case in point. Plenty of Virgin’s business ventures have failed, but when they work, they more than make up the difference.
It helps Branson that his personal brand is separate. It adds to his credibility to try again. In fitness, Bill Phillips the author and entrepreneur is an excellent example of how you can build a stronger product brand by having a strong personal brand that is distinct from the company.
Phillips has founded or co-founded media companies like Muscle Media and product brands like Met-Rx and EAS. When his name attaches to new brands, it gives them an added boost to get off the ground. He has always been careful to balance his personal brand with his ventures.
The Big Exit
So, again, when you have a successful gym business, and you hit the point where you intend to make an exit, what next? Your options will be much more diverse and appealing if you build a personal brand that is distinct from the company you just sold.
Any startup founder should have an exit strategy from the beginning. It doesn’t have to be about stepping away from a success, it could be a plan with a deadline that if you decide to shut down.
Define where you want to make a go/no-go decision. As long as you shut down in an orderly fashion, your distinct brand as a fitness entrepreneur will survive; that’s the way the startup business goes.
Be Prepared to Jump
On the other end of the spectrum, what do you do if you achieve spectacular success? What if you achieve all your goals, did you want to sell and retire or move on to other projects?
Sometimes investors and big box brands that buy smaller businesses immediately throw out the founder. It is one of the brutal facts of business. It hurts less if you have earned a multi-million-dollar payout.
In any case, bailing out, hitting the mega-accomplishment jackpot, or getting pushed out by a board take over, what do you do afterward? If you have a strong and distinct personal brand, the options will come to you:
- Professional Board Member
- Public Speaker
- Fitness Business Consultant
- Further Entrepreneurial Projects
- Become a Venture Capitalist or Angel Investor
- Celebrity Expert
- Athletic Product Line Promoter
The wonderful thing about these projects is that your brand will help them along to profitability and then their success will further polish your personal brand.
Fagan, Lawrence. "Personal Branding for Fitness Club Owners And Entrepreneurs." Gym Insight Blog, March 6, 2019. https://blog.gyminsight.com/5395-personal-branding-for-fitness-club-owners-and-entrepreneurs/.
—. "Spartan Up! Reading The Spartan Race Philosophy." Gym Insight Blog, March 13, 2014. https://blog.gyminsight.com/2488-spartan-up-reading-the-spartan-race-philosophy/.
—. "What Are the Hottest Trends in Fitness Clubs and Gym Equipment." Gym Insight Blog, April 20, 2019. https://blog.gyminsight.com/5451-what-are-the-hottest-trends-in-fitness-clubs-and-gym-equipment/.
Hughes, Brian. "5 Ways to Create a Better Brand for Your Small Business." Small Business Trends (blog), June 28, 2018. https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/06/branding-help-small-business.html.
Martins Ferreira, Nicole. "10 Personal Branding Tips (That’ll Help Your Business)." Oberlo (blog), September 30, 2018. https://www.oberlo.com/blog/personal-branding.
Phillips, Bill. "The Climb to Success." Heal Your Life, October 14, 2010. http://www.healyourlife.com/the-climb-to-success.