We spend a ton of time talking about branding. Behind closed doors conversations about the branding, our image, and the emotional connection it has with our clients, are something of a constant around here. Brandon and Kirk set the foundation when they opened the doors in Charlotte, and that branding has only strengthened over the last two years as it has evolved into what the MADness means today.
If you asked me what the greatest strength of the brand is, I would have to say the product. The product – from the equipment and layout to the intervals and programming – is what drives the buy-in, the commitment, and the loyalty of our clients (as well as the franchisees). It is the engine to the whole machine, and without it we would be nothing — but it’s still not everything.
For me, the branding was the hook. I loved the whole package: the look and feel of the facility, the colors, the cleanliness, and the warmth of those combined elements. All of those things considered, the most noteworthy for me was the girl. She wasn’t just a figure – not a trivial or accidental logo – but rather a representation of the brand, and what it stands for.
In her stance I could see parts of my own experience – conviction, defeat, resiliency and strength. Her figure displayed the results of commitment, intensity, and a durability – results only achieved by battling through challenges. Even now, seeing her every single day, when I look at her I still share in her experience. I can never tell what stage of the battle she is in, but it doesn’t matter. She has become a source of promise in my experience – the foundational piece for my emotional connection to the whole, a motivational aspect in the training, and the most literal face of the brand.
As we were preparing to open the doors in Charlottesville, the experience of replicating the brand was pretty surreal. We stood in the facility day in and day out, as it was being constructed, trying to envision the final product. We drew maps on the walls to ‘scientifically’ figure out the best flow and layout to complement the programming and facilitate the most organization. We planned every last little detail of the ‘class’ experience from how our trainers would run classes to how to manage the front desk and retail areas. We did our due diligence to develop a successful business, but it wasn’t until the branding elements were added that it became real.
Each day that we drive up to the space I feel inspired by her. She is there welcoming our clients in to the MADness, and stands by us all while we cycle through the movements and battle everything that we come in to either take on or sweat off.
Once in a while we get a client or prospect who asks why we chose a girl, or if we’re trying to market only towards women. At first, in my mind, I found myself asking why not? Why not have a girl logo? Why not let a female represent strength and conviction? Why not have a strong female image emanate the power and durability that our brand represents, and why not let it inspire men and women, boys and girls? Why can’t young women look up to a strong female logo and not have it be a ‘girl’ thing? Why does the experience and the fight that exists behind her eyes have to be defined by gender?
I think that the answer that I deduced for myself is that it doesn’t. It doesn’t have to be defined by gender because it has nothing to do with gender. The strength of the brand is defined by the sum total experience that each client has from their first glimpse of our logo, to the facility, and the ability of our product to fulfill the need they have for it. The girl is the experience, she is the intention, and going forward she is the seal of approval and the promise to clients that walk in the doors that they are getting the exact experience that she represents. Some people will get that immediately, and some people will get it once they’ve battled through enough intervals on their own to share in her experience and find their own common ground in her presence.
That’s what she promises to clients in Charlotte and Charlottesville alike. It has been awesome for Dar and I to see the recognition already happening in Charlottesville. Our brand is defined and sought out because of the programming, but it is recognized by the logo — they are mutually exclusive. She is the first thing you see when you come in, and the last thing you see when you leave — the bookends to the experience.
We all have our own stories of struggle and triumph, what makes us tick and causes us to show up day after day. For Dar, the story is in her eyes. She spends hours considering what would show if her eyes just opened. I’m pretty certain she double checks when she leaves for the day to make sure she’s not just peeking through her eyelashes, taking stock of the scene and assessing the battle.
When I see the girl, I see her taking a breath, pausing and finding the resolve and conviction within herself to keep going. Our shared experience is the middle – the thick part of the fight when the weight or burden seems to heavy.
It’s all relative, and it’s all personal. Just like the experience of the intervals and movements, it’s all what you make it and how you relate. She’s a representation of the experience more than the brand, and more specifically, she’s a representation of your experience. So, I guess my rant then begs the question to you all: What do you see in the girl?