Gary Wise Founder & strategy director bloodstream
Founder & Strategy Director

Brand identity and genuine community should be built authentically. Awareness should be etched into consumer memory over time - like a well-designed workout regimen.

shape-Light-Blue.pngLet’s Wean Our Industry Off
A Lethal Addiction: Short-termism

Long-term success in the fitness and wellness industry should be a marathon rather than a sprint – requiring sustained investment in brand, community, product and people. Brand identity and genuine community should be built authentically. Awareness should be etched into consumer memory over time – like a well-designed workout regimen. Think about the mega brands in other industries like sportswear, cars, tech, drinks. They know who they are, and they stick to it. They’re credible and desirable.

Gyms and wellness studios’ marketing often suffers from in-between syndrome. Seeking to represent aspirational lifestyles, they create utopian collaterals portraying perfect bodies, flowing white curtains and unfeasibly prosperous living. Yet, when it comes to brand and marketing strategy they behave more like discount furniture stores – it’s all small-space digital efficiency ads, features and benefits-stuffed creatives and must-buy-now offers. It’s like having a long-term nutrition plan and ditching it for a string of fast-faddy diets.

Let’s stick with the digital marketing issue for a second – when brands opt for ploughing their media budgets exclusively into low-funnel SEM, digital-efficiency formats and offer-driven leaflet drops, they’re often throwing $hi* at the wall to see what sticks. They’re forgetting that 99% of people won’t respond to the ad and will (if anything at all) get a quick impression of the brand – that it’s desperate to sell its product – now!

To establish brand legitimacy, particularly with the mass market, traditional awareness drivers should be considered – e.g. billboards, TV, and cinema. Channels that build a level of credibility rarely achievable through digital media alone. And if you’re a small player who can’t afford mass-advertising channels, look for lower-cost local options like single-poster sites on nearby thoroughfares, ambient media opportunities in local cafes and bars — and don’t forget the power of PR if you’re able to create newsworthy classes, tell interesting stories and contribute to media articles.

And community engagement is a vital component of long-term thinking. Rather than focusing solely on immediate sales, leverage community drivers like events, engaging content, and the creation of tribes within your customer base. These elements contribute not only to brand awareness but also foster genuine connections. Just as a fitness community provides support and encouragement, a brand community can create a lasting impact on consumers.

One crucial aspect often overlooked in the quest for short-term gains is the measurement of brand awareness and perception. Relying solely on sales metrics can be misleading and detrimental to the long-term health of your brand. Consider implementing a simple, annual brand tracking study. This will provide valuable insights into how your brand is perceived and help you make informed decisions about your long-term strategy.

Now, let’s address the perilous pitfall of putting your brand on sale. Much like compromising on the quality of your workout routine, offering constant discounts erodes the perceived value of your brand. It’s a slippery slope, a downward spiral and a fool’s game – short-term quick gains can lead to a challenging uphill battle to restore your brand’s worth. Resist the temptation and focus on the enduring journey of building a proper brand.

And finally – it’s not all about marketing. Significant brand perception and growth come from existing customers who should be nurtured and delighted. Make your customers your sounding board and create a feedback loop. Listen, tell them what you heard, communicate what you’re going to do about it, and do it. Commit to constant product improvement. Stay fresh.

Remember, true strength is found in the sustained journey, not the fleeting sprint. And the impact of a well-crafted, enduring brand echoes far beyond immediate gains.

About Gary

Gary Wise is Founder & Strategy Director of bloodstream. A big advocate of long-term thinking, and believer in the power of brand strategy to drive business growth, Gary has 20+ years’ advertising / media agency strategy and marketing director level client experience. Gary’s roles have included Asia-Pacific Marketing Head for PUMA and PURE Group, planning lead for Emirates, Cadbury’s, Peroni, Sony and The Economist, and he’s won awards including The Drum Grand Prix, Cannes Corporate TV Gold, IPA Effectiveness and Media Planner of the Year.

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