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So You Think You Can Brand?

Part I of III

By A.J. Meyers

I open my Build Your Own Brand lecture the same way every time, asking those in the room who have a logo to raise their hand.

Inevitably a few arms will shoot up proudly.

Then I ask them to keep 'em raised if they also have their brand built yet.

It breaks my heart a little bit each session when I see even one hand drop. Because the truth is, when it comes to building your branded business, your logo is just the tip of the iceberg, and in some cases, may not even be the best place to begin...

Let me be clear. A well designed logo is crucial to brand recognition, and you likely will need an insignia of some sort to stand out in our very competitive and visually motivated marketplace. We discuss in the B.Y.O.B. lecture, the first purpose of a logo is to establish a bond between your brand and the product or service you offer your customer/client. [A close second is to mark your territory.]

It's important though to understand that what ultimately ends up in the corner of your business card or website, isn't, by itself, your brand.

Logos and Brands; they are not synonymous. I would even argue that one (your brand) should always be informing the other (your logo), not the other way around.

So when one of our newest S'WET™ Instructors Heather Rhodes pulled out her phone minutes before the lecture began to show me logo designs she's been working with, I asked her permission to use her as a case study for this article.

"What started off as a hobby turned into a fitness career for me," Heather shared, "and I have been toying with a business name for years."

As she swiped through the photos on her phone, Heather told me she had been through several different brand and business names in the past couple of years. Part of that was because she worked with many different formats. But thankfully for her current water students, Heather has turned that focus to mainly aquatic fitness!

"I think when I finally went to IAFTC (the annual international water conference hosted by the AEA) and had a bigger picture of what other people were doing, it excited me that much more to establish what I am doing," she said.

Truth is, Heather already had some really great logo ideas sketched out. She also happened to have the incredible luck (and marketing genius) to highlight a key brand element smack dab in the middle of her last name:

RH2ODES. I mean...come on! A water fitness instructor with access to an H-2-O right there in her name...?

I loved it! Of course, Heather has been living with that last name for quite some time, and has likely become accustomed to the beautiful brand synergy available there. I did wonder though if the creative play-on-words would land the same to a stranger at first glance? After all, her current clients already know exactly what they get from her.

It's the student she hasn't met yet that she really needs to reach. (Another lesson we cover in the lecture!)

So I tossed out an idea..."Could you play with the "H2O" part some more to really highlight the water connection?" Think about different colors, fonts, designs, etc. (In our lecture, we cover brand elements like this, and why you should never grow too attached to one, as it will probably change as you do...)

But immediately what came to mind for me was something like this:

If the unaware student saw something like's very likely they'd know her focus is on water. H2O-4-EVR!

Now whether Heather ends up adopting any of the advice or not, as a member of our licensed S'WET™ SQUAD, she gets brand and marketing consultations as she continues to carve out her space within the aquatic fitness community.

And trust will be hearing from Heather R-H20-DES soon enough!

In fact, she's already offering S'WET™ classes at the Victory Family YMCA in Yorktown, Virginia and will be attending the S'WET™ DEEP Instructor Training with us at Music City FitCon in October!

Curious where did Heather finally land with her logo? You'll have to come back here for Part II or follow her online to see more!

Okay...but what if I don't have a cool last name like Heather?!

Before you run out to hire an expensive graphic designer and/or a lawyer to legally change your name, consider joining us for Build Your Own Brand (B.Y.O.B.) this October at Music City FitCon.

It's a beginner's course breaking down the basic elements of a brand, how it's different from your logo, and why you probably need one in today's competitive market.

Conference Dates: October 27th-29th.


Here's a list of all the other workshops and lectures we'll be offering at this year's Music City FitCon:

Smart Circuits with Katy Coffey

Friday, October 27th (8:30am-9:45am)

Regardless of the type of equipment or size of your class, circuit training can effectively give your students a total body workout. Learn three different ways to structure your classes with a variety of equipment that is available at your pool. This is an ideal workshop for pools who purchased a small handful of specialty equipment. This workshop may be customized to host sites' equipment.

Instructor Vocal Care with Chris LaCour

Friday, October 27th (12:00pm-1:15pm)

Have you ever finished your classes with a sore and tired throat? Yelling too much over your music? No microphone to help you out? We know how it feels! In this workshop you will walk away with vocal tips, tricks and techniques to keep your vocal instrument healthy and strong. Learn the research behind the vocal health of fitness professionals and how important this ironically unspoken topic affects our industry and livelihoods.

Noodle RX with Jenni Lynn Patterson Lacour

Friday, October 27th (3:30pm-4:45pm)

This intense but low-impact workout was created to accommodate students of various heights and fitness levels in a shallow-water class. The first segment focuses on creating class content with grounded moves and the other two segments demonstrate how to incorporate a noodle to provide creative challenges and reduce impact.

The Power of Ω with Katy Coffey

Saturday, October 28th (7:00am-8:15am)

Deeper understanding on a multi-purpose tool for all levels. AquaFIIT strength training technique features the Aqua Ω as its key training tool. Alternating between cardio, strength, upper and lower body, this one powerful tool is sure to give you a full body drag workout. Learn how to effectively design and implement an aquatic resistance-training program that maximizes results while remaining on budget.

Dude Moves with Chris LaCour

Saturday, October 28th (1:45pm-3:00pm)

Whether you already have males in your classes, or are trying to attract more men, this pool workout will give you moves that are turbo charged with athleticism and masculine energy. Strength, power and wall work combined to draw in a new demographic to your classes and make some serious waves!

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