How to Make Member Retention Easy by Creating a Compelling Lifestyle Brand

Jul 26, 2017 - 5 min read
Branding in a boxing studio

Member retention is the name of the game in running a successful gym or fitness studio. But keeping clients coming back for more isn’t just about offering friendly customer service, great training, or the best equipment. To be sure, all of that is a part of it, but more than anything, what a fitness club sells is the promise of a healthy lifestyle.

The Trick to Boosting Member Retention

Developing a compelling lifestyle brand for your fitness studio is essential for building and retaining a client base. The difficulty is that a healthy lifestyle means different things to different people. But on the flip side, the easy part is that once people have committed to a lifestyle, they tend to be extremely loyal.

In order to develop this sense of loyalty and keep member retention high, your brand needs to spark feelings of personal connection and identity in your clients. Here are four steps to creating and maintaining a lifestyle fitness brand that will inspire your clients to work for their best selves.

Identify Your Audience

There is tremendous diversity in approaches to health and fitness. Because everyone’s fitness journey is different, it’s important that a fitness brand identifies whose paths they have significant overlap with.

Exercise and health have different meanings to vegan bodybuilders vs senior citizens, those aiming to go pro vs those aim to lose weight. Crafting a brand that resonates with everyone is impossible, and inefficient. Brand stories that try to reach everyone don’t end up truly resonating with anyone.

But when you identify a narrower, more specific target audience, you can begin to develop a clearer vision of what is important to your community. Having a sense of community is a huge motivator for participation  and a great asset for your gym’s member retention.

Your mission and values need to be aligned with those of the people you want to reach - figuring out who those people are is the first step to identifying what the essence of your brand truly is.

Develop a Language

After you’ve decided on a core audience and mission for your brand, the next step is to craft a language that can effectively convey your brand’s message. Language frames the way we see the world and how we make sense of abstract and deeply personal concepts like health and fitness.

Building a brand language helps your clients to think about these concepts the same way that you do. A shared philosophy and approach to fitness can be another powerful driving force behind your club’s member retention.

Related Content: Gym Membership Retention Ideas

In order to be compelling, a brand’s tone and story need to be consistent on across all channels. Inconsistencies feel dishonest, especially when it comes to something as personal as fitness, and can confuse and cost you clients. From social media hashtags to customer service practices to the motivational wall decals in the studio space - all messages should contribute to a singular, inspiring narrative.

Wall Decals Help You Build a Lifestyle Brand and Boost Member Retention

Show your Imagery

A brand’s language builds the foundation for a sense of identity, but without images, a brand can suffer from a lack of tangibility. Imagery is especially crucial in the fitness industry, where bodily appearances are widely read as visual markers of health.

Imagery gives clients a vision of what they can accomplish through the lifestyle that your brand espouses. This doesn’t mean that your brand needs to hang dozens of acrylic prints featuring muscular bodies across the studio space, though this kind of imagery could be powerful for certain brands.

Branded imagery can operate on more subtle levels too, such as through a decor that promotes a feeling of spiritual wellness, or a logo design that conveys strength and power. Sharing on-brand imagery can also be accomplished through content marketing, something that Lululemon does exceedingly well.

Your brand is a narrative, and images give clients an idea of where that story leads. When clients have a vision of what participation in your club can do for their lifestyle, your member retention will benefit.

Lead the Lifestyle

If you are even considering opening a gym and matching lifestyle brand to go with it, chances are it is because that lifestyle has been hugely beneficial for you. You are the living embodiment of your brand and its transformative potential. Leading by example is one of the most effective ways to influence behavior. Don’t underestimate the huge impact it can have on your business.

If a welcoming and supportive community is at the heart of your brand, organize events that foster this spirit of togetherness and help newcomers feel at home.

Is healthy eating or a specific diet is a driving force behind your brand? Consider selling relevant products on-site  and send out recipe ideas with your membership newsletter.

And if fitness as a family activity is central to your mission, then consider establishing onsite daycare, kid-friendly classes, and selling merchandise for kids and parents.

More than just attractive images and slogans, a compelling lifestyle brand actually enables clients to partake in it. When you make the desired lifestyle available for your clients, they’ll be quicker to adopt it for themselves so that it becomes inextricable from their lives.

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Joe Robinson

Joe Robison is the Marketing Director of Coastal Creative, a San Diego-based printing company that specializes in a variety of large-scale printing and design projects. They’ve designed branded interiors for premiere gyms and fitness studios throughout the Orange County area.