Running a yoga studio is no small task. Being an expert yogi and a top-notch teacher are the first steps in starting your business. Building a strong brand image will take you a step further by attracting new students and keeping them coming back for years to come. Whether you are about to take the leap of starting your own yoga studio or are hoping to give an existing studio a boost in business, you have come to the right place. This guide will help you start building a cohesive brand image for your yoga studio.
What is Branding?
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” -Jeff Bezos, CEO and Founder of Amazon
Before you can build your yoga brand, you should have a basic understanding of what branding is and why it is important. These definitions from businessdictonary.com will get you started:
- Brand: A unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer’s mind. Brands help harried consumers in a crowded and complex marketplace, by standing for certain benefits and value.
- Brand equity: A brand’s power derived from the goodwill and name recognition that it has earned over time, which translates into higher sales volume and higher profit margins against competing brands. If all of Lululemon’s stores, factories, and tangible assets disappeared tomorrow and only the name was left, the value of that name is Lululemon’s brand equity.
A brand is what sets your company apart, and helps customers choose your service over a competitor’s. For example, Coca Cola’s brand consists of everything from the red color palette and font they use, to the messages of happy people in their advertising. Brand equity is the reason someone might choose Coke products over Pepsi or generic products, even if Coke is more expensive.
Why Does Brand Image Matter?
“If this business were to be split up, I would be glad to take the brands, trademarks and goodwill and you could have all the bricks and mortar – and I would fare better than you.” -John Stuart, former Chairman of Quaker Oats
Brand image goes beyond elegant logos and signature messaging. Having a strong brand can help a yoga studio, and any other business by:
- Improving recognition and awareness: In 2011, Starbucks removed the words “Starbucks Coffee” from their signature logo. The global coffee chain has built a strong enough brand recognition that they do not need the company’s name in their branding for people to recognize it; around the world, coffee-lovers see a mermaid label on a cup of coffee and know where it came from.
- Building loyal customer base: There are two types of people in the world, Coke drinkers and Pepsi drinkers. In the soda, yoga, and every other industry, consumers often have a favorite brand, taste, or style they know and trust. Having a strong brand that delivers the same results with every interaction builds trust among customers and keeps them coming back.
- Increasing a company’s overall value: If you have paid over $100 for Lululemon workout pants, rather than opting for non-brand names at a quarter of the price, it is probably because they are a brand you know and trust. Lululemon’s strong brand means fitness fanatics will pay more for a pair of pants they know is durable and comfortable, rather than a lesser known, non-brand name pair.
- Reinforcing what a company stands for: REI stores sell outdoor and sports gear. When REI decided to shut its doors on Black Friday in 2015 and told its customers to “Opt Outside,” they were telling the world that they value adventures and outdoor lifestyles over a consumer and revenue-focused holiday. Though they may have lost immediate gains on Black Friday, REI’s strong message spoke to what their brand stands for and is what made their customers trust the brand and remain loyal.
Building Your Yoga Studio’s Brand Image
“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” – Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks
For large companies and tiny yoga studios alike, a business’ brand is often its biggest asset. From having a recognizable logo and coloring, to a clear mission statement that your patrons believe in, strong brands keep customers coming back. If you would like to build your brand but are not sure where to begin, follow these tips for getting started:
The first step in building your yoga brand is deciding what your studio stands for. The following questions can help you get started in this process.
What does your brand stand for?
This can start with the values your company believes in and why. What is the inspiration behind your yoga practice, and why do you want to help others find that peace and passion? If mindfulness and holistic health are of utmost importance to your studio’s team, make note of that when building your brand. If your goal in teaching is to empower people to have positive body image through yoga, build your brand around that. Isolating strong statements of your company’s identity and beliefs is a great way to get your branding started.
What makes your studio stand out?
There are thousands of yoga studios out there. Why should someone choose yours? Does your studio offer yoga for kids? Do you have a special program for people with back pain? Identifying your yoga studio’s competitive points of difference is another crucial piece in building your studio’s brand.
What is your studio’s brand voice?
A company’s “brand voice” is the words they choose to share their messages. Think about what students should get out of coming to your studio in particular. Who is your studio’s target audience and how can you reach them? Building brand voice is about speaking to ideal customers in a way that resonates with them, while also sharing those messages in channels they are using. This can mean anything from billboards with photos of smiling moms if they are your target demographic, to quick and witty messages on Twitter for fast-paced millennials if they are your ideal client. Having a strong mission and vision, and implementing it across all channels of communication is a sure-fire way to build your brand.
Tools to get you started
While building a brand may seem a bit overwhelming, there are many tools out there to make this process easier. We recommend:
- Easy to use website templates on Squarespace or WordPress
- Email Templates, which brand your emails and keep track of who opens them with MailChimp or Constant Contact
- Vistaprint, FedEx, or your local print shop to create branded print collateral such as flyers, signs, and business cards
- Hire a local marketing company to work with you and help build your brand, which you can find through a number of databases or by searching for agencies in your area
- Create a service exchange with a person or group who is willing to trade marketing services for yoga classes or a studio membership. From designers who can make your logo, to college students that are willing to run your social media in exchange for free classes, service exchanges are a great way to build your business without breaking the bank.
Implementing Your Brand Image
“I think that my biggest attribute to any success that I have had is hard work. There really is no substitute for working hard.” – Maria Bartiromo, Global Markets Editor of Fox
Once you have an idea of what you want your brand to stand for, it is time to put that vision into action. Here are a few ways to put your branding messages into practice:
Consistency is perhaps the most important part of brand image. For example, regardless of what kind of car insurance you have or even if you don’t drive at all, you probably recognize the Geico Gecko and know about Allstate’s Stand (are you in good hands?). That is because these brands are highly consistent in their messaging.
Consistency builds trust in a brand because customers can predict the outcome with every interaction. It also helps people recognize your brand among others in the industry. Having a consistent brand can also make it easier to expand your business down the line. If your brand is strong and clear, opening additional locations can be easier because everything from the coloring to the classes offered are already in order. You can implement consistency in your yoga studio’s branding by:
- Creating a brand book that details your company’s colors, logos, and branded statements. This information includes the hext number of your brand’s colors, your fonts, logos, banner images, and more design elements. This information should also include your brand’s mission and vision, including why your studio exists, the values your company believes in, and the promise your team provides to customers.
- Standardizing logos and all other branded content are the same across locations, if you have more than one yoga studio
- Ensure that all digital and physical properties such as emails, websites, flyers and more, adhere to your brand guidelines
Your studio’s digital footprint
A “digital footprint” refers to all digital traces of a brand. This includes a business’ website, social media profiles, email templates, and more. The world of digital connectivity enables branded messages to spread beyond a business’ immediate audience and customers, so whether you are starting a yoga Instagram or sending reminder emails to students, it is crucial that your digital presence is on-brand. A few ways to ensure your messages adhere to branding across digital platforms include:
- Creating brand guidelines for your social media outlets
- Using branded email templates for all communications
- Ensuring the content on your website is written in your brand’s voice
Building a brand image is no small task, but having a strong brand identity will fuel your business in the long run. Continue building your business by building your own yoga website!