[Devin Cornelius is currently in his final semester as a student-athlete at the University of Central Missouri, pursuing a Master’s Degree in Sports Management. He is currently a Sports Management intern at Athletic Lab.]

Initially, when I began brainstorming this blog post, I thought to look up the phrase “branding”. Ironically, I meant Google “branding”. Search engines have been a dime a dozen during my lifetime. I have seen advertisements for Yahoo, Bing and much more. However, every time I have ever searched for an answer to something, the colorful letters of Google were above the search bar. Google has branded itself and dominated its market so well that it is literally used as a verb. Other brands that dominate our society include Apple, Nike, Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Disney. In terms of successful branding, these companies have reached the pinnacle. Most of which find themselves on the 2017 list of Most Powerful Brands, carefully crafted by Brand Finance.

As an honest consumer, I will openly admit that brand reputation has a significant impact on my decisions in purchasing and loyalty. There are certain brands that undoubtedly add value. Whether this value is higher utility relative to price, higher quality overall, or a preferred external reputation, it is impossible to ignore strong brands and their impact on our decision making.As an honest consumer, I will openly admit that brand reputation has a significant impact on my decisions in purchasing and loyalty. There are certain brands that undoubtedly add value. Whether this value is higher utility relative to price, higher quality overall, or a preferred external reputation, it is impossible to ignore strong brands and their impact on our decision making.

In August of 2015, World Athletics Center rebranded itself into ALTIS. Within the track and field community, it is easy to identify a specific member currently separating from the pack. ALTIS is a major training group in Arizona. It is home to one of the best groupings of track coaches in the world, along with an exceptional amount of talent within the track and field world. Led by John Godina, Dan Pfaff, and Stuart McMillan, among others, ALTIS hosts educational seminars for other coaches, creates an environment for athletes that allows an incredible opportunity to succeed, and continue to impact the direction of the sport. This group is a concept that has grown quickly. The leader in the track and field community has since continued their mission but the brand of ALTIS has grown stronger through their rebrand efforts and continued relevance in domestic and international track and field. Giving credit where credit is due, ALTIS has earned their position in the market. However, in my experience interning with them and as an outside observer, their presence on social media, reputation, and brand strength, the perception of ALTIS is put on an even higher pedestal. This is due to successfully developing a brand image.

As I discussed in my blog regarding culture, Athletic Lab has separated itself within the market. With an exceptionally educated staff, a wealth of experience across staff members and a high-level facility, the quality dictates the price and demand continues to grow. Retention numbers at Athletic Lab are higher than competitors, referrals have led to the busiest summer the Lab has had and growth opportunities continue to present themselves. With this being said, Athletic Lab is the opposite of complacent. As many members have already recognized, Athletic Lab is in the process of rebranding itself as well. This is a complex effort on various planes. From a fundamental evaluation, within Kapferer’s Brand Personality Prism, the efforts lie within the external perception of the brand. As you shift your product towards one of generosity, a belief that educating is imperative to success, and adjusting your image to fit this guidance, the reflection of your brand, the relationship your brand has with its focus and the perceived customer that you attract all shift your brand identity. This effort is the focus of Athletic Lab’s rebrand. To members, the most significant change they will experience will be new logos throughout the building. If they are involved in Athletic Lab’s social media, they may notice the nuanced changes. Luckily, I had the opportunity to speak to Brian Guilmette and Mike Young about the detailed reasoning and specific execution plan behind the rebrand.

Brian’s experience is one of the unique aspects of the Athletic Lab staff. The majority of Athletic Lab employees bring something to the table beyond the ability to be an exceptional coach. Brian has experience in graphic design and is in the process of becoming the Content Director for the organization. This will allow Athletic Lab to have direct input and control regarding the rebrand, starting with a logo redesign. As seen below the new Athletic Lab logo intends to communicate a portion of their message that is extremely important to success. A flask represents the “lab” aspect of Athletic Lab. Athletic Lab is not simply a gym. The name is intentional and “lab” represents the scientific aspect. There are constantly projects going on. Whether trial and error of specific protocol development, research projects regarding the validity of measurements, development of training technologies and appropriate athlete periodization within complex training situations, Athletic Lab is as much about the science behind sport as it is about the sport itself. In discussing it with Brian, he was simply trying to improve his craft and produced a logo similar to the one that is now the final design. The logo is a font completely designed by Brian. The font is all lower case, maintains thick lines and consists of simple shapes. In the adolescent years of Athletic Lab, it seemed that “three” was always the magic number. This can be verified in Cate’s blogs regarding the infant years of Athletic Lab and the story of a start up . With this idea in mind, Brian showed three bubbles that have risen out of the beaker. The two measurement markings are representative of the two locations since opening, and the remaining bubble in the flask is to represent that Athletic Lab has more to give. This is potentially the most direct link between the logo and the rebranding effort occurring internally. The goal of the rebrand is to adjust the image and content away from self-promotion and towards a more educational model. This engagement change will be most notable on social media platforms. Although the victories of Athletic Lab staff, members and teams will constantly be celebrated, the content delivered in the upcoming future will be shifted in the direction of education. Among other small changes, a new Anchor station allowing for the timely and immediate distribution of roundtable discussions is now live, recent Coaches professional development presentations have been streamed live on Facebook, and snapshots from the day have been posted on Instagram and included in Athletic Lab’s stories. These platforms have become opportunities for followers to get an inside look at what goes on in the facility, provide an open inquiry opportunity and give feedback directly and publicly. This effort is multifaceted but comes with small risks.

Sharing information means that you are putting yourself in the public eye and giving others the opportunity to tear you down. Some do not share because they feel they will be attacked. Others avoid sharing because they feel they could give away the “secret recipe”. Mike Young doesn’t see it that way. Mike’s success has come from hard work. Regardless of these efforts, you still ultimately need to convince others to believe in what you are doing. Mike has been able to do this because of his personality, expertise and experience. As a coach at his level, others have undeniably helped him within the coaching, performance and training communities. Partially because of this, the rebrand is aimed at giving back to the community that follows and believes in Athletic Lab. This means that long-distance followers are now able to get an inside look at what Athletic Lab does and potentially expand their workout inventories or exercise understanding. A person in Raleigh may become convinced that this is the place for their personal training experience because they see the expert coaching in action. A person who is interested in CrossFit may finally come join a class after seeing a highlight of the educational workshops.

Athletic Lab already boasts a strong international presence; approximately 30% of each intern group is typically from outside the U.S. This international following should not come as a surprise, approximately one-third of Athletic Lab’s followers on social media are international. While selling the expertise has always been our focus, the rebrand will continue to develop an opportunity for Athletic Lab to better represent the product to the public, locally and worldwide.

References

Azoulay, A., & Kapferer, J. (2003). Do Brand Personality Scales Really Measure Brand Personality? Brand Management,11(2), 143-155. Retrieved August 15, 2017.

Kauflin, J. (2017, February 14). The Most Powerful Brands In 2017. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffkauflin/2017/02/14/the-most-powerful-brands-in-2017/#7583b6eff1f8