Defining your brand is essential regardless of whether you plan to work independently or for someone else. Every health coach and exercise professional—recently certified and seasoned vets, business owners and club employees—should take the time to understand themselves and their motivations, and how those things can inform the work they do.
Stated simply, building a personal brand is about defining how you want to be known in your market. But it’s far more than that. Your brand should distinguish you as a professional and define who you are. It’s not about competing with other health coaches and exercise professionals in your community or about putting anyone else down; it’s about really understanding who it is you want to serve, how you plan on serving them and how you are going to approach that mission.
Step 1: Distinguish Yourself
The first step as you begin the process of building your brand is to be true to who you are. Watering yourself down to be all things to all people or to try to reach a broader audience will only make you less interesting to potential clients.
So, be bold and have clear intentions. Your brand will be a driving force behind your career, so it should make you feel alive and uncompromised. If it doesn’t inspire you, how can you expect it to inspire others to want to work with you?
People in the fitness industry tend to look at others’ success and try to model their careers after them—and that can be a great idea. After all, success leaves clues behind that can help you navigate an industry that has no clear roadmap to success. But don’t get lost in trying to be something or someone you’re not. Instead, find and use your unique talents.
Step 2: Define Who You Want to Work with and What You Want to Help Them Achieve
A brand is not about your logo, color scheme or motto. It’s about being very specific as you identify your target market and then understanding their urgent needs. Do you think you want to work with older adults? That can include anyone who is 50+ years old. So, you must drill down deeper. Do you want to work with higher-functioning seniors who want to exercise in order to maintain their quality of life for as long as possible, or lower-functioning seniors who want to improve their balance to prevent falls? Or do you want to work with… the list goes on and on.
Once you define your target clientele as specifically as you possibly can, it’s time to figure out what they need. In many cases, it’s best to simply ask people who fall within your target market, “What are your most urgent needs?” and “How can I best help you meet those needs?”
The responses may surprise you, and they will help you speak the language of your market and uncover what they truly desire from a health coach or exercise professional. Remember, the fitness industry is service oriented and mission driven, so you have to figure out how to be of service and express that through your branding. What is the number-one result that you will provide to your clients and how will you demonstrate the benefits of what you do?
Step 3: Know Your “Why”
People will resonate with why you do what you do, and being open and honest about that will help build trust and credibility in your community. Of course, you want to earn money and experience longevity in the fitness industry, but your “why” is likely much more meaningful. For many health coaches and exercise professionals, their “why” is very personal. If you recognize and honor what has drawn you to this work, with this target market, providing this particular service, your authenticity will attract the best possible clients for you!
As a health coach or exercise professional, you carefully design and develop programs to change people’s lives. As a “businessperson,” whether you actually want to go into business for yourself or simply better define how you will be perceived by potential clients, you must be just as thoughtful, analytical and measured in how you go about building your brand. Know why you do what you do. Define your mission and stick by your values. Doing so will help you to understand, differentiate and grow your brand authentically, and to be the best and most successful professional that you can be.