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The Tale of the Two-Tailed Mermaid

Part II of III

By A.J. Meyers

In Part I of this series on brand-building, we introduced you to Heather Rhodes, a recently licensed S'WET Instructor. Heather is currently working on developing her own fitness brand using one of her most notable attributes...

...her own last name! Say hello to


And lemme just tell you right now, Heather's going all in!

Heather attended the B.Y.O.B. lecture when I presented at DCAC this summer, and had this to say about her overall experience: "Between speaking with you prior to your session and then listening to the width and depth of what marketing and branding actually entails...I'm feeling maybe a little overwhelmed! But it also confirm[s] the steps I need to take going forward."

And as you'll learn more in this part of the series, Heather is taking those very important steps now!

If you're attending this year's MusicCity FitCon, during the Build Your Own Brand lecture, I spend a lot of time explaining the difference between a brand and a logo, and why sometimes you shouldn't become too attached to the latter. Why, you ask?

Because logos evolve.

Heather sent over some of the revisions her own logo went through over the last couple of design iterations. You'll notice some specific font and color changes, as well as the use of a tag ("Catch the Wave"). All of them incorporate the water/wave graphic, which I would offer is most effective when in blue.

Heather is doing what all brand-builders should: Testing the waters! See what works best and how it may look on things like business cards, a website, a t-shirt and even social media. She's also asking her networks for their input. Getting FEEDBACK (even sometimes the harsh kind) from those you trust and who know what you do well can be an important and insightful experience. They may just see something you don't, or the other way around.

But here's another take-away we cover in the B.Y.O.B. lecture: Where you begin and where you may end up in the logo design process ultimately depends on where you are with the business and branding process.

To drive this point home even more in the presentation, we take a deep dive into one of the most successful brands to date...and to do so, I'll tell you the tale of the two-tailed mermaid who started it all:


Keep in mind, one of the main purposes of your logo should be to identify your business (i.e. your brand) through the use of a symbol, graphic or image, often relying on fonts, colors and other creative elements to set it apart. Sometimes that may include the company name, or some words or catch phrases. Sometimes a simple swoosh will do!

Ultimately you want a logo that elicits a connection between what you're doing (or selling) and why it's unique to you.

But sometimes, the very products or services you offer may change. For example, maybe you're one of the many land instructors who took the Turf to Surf workshop and are turning your focus now to aquatic fitness for some extra income? Or maybe you're a yoga and pilates instructor who shifted to weightlifting or ax throwing.

Or perhaps you just stop selling spices...

I show B.Y.O.B. participants the below photo of the very first Starbucks store opened in 1971 in downtown Seattle, WA. Eagle-eyed viewers might notice something very unique in the storefront window.

It's the original Starbucks logo:

A brown circle around a TOPLESS (seriously) two-tailed mermaid offering coffee, tea and SPICES?

Side-note: Am I the only one who thought the wavy-haired royal woman in the middle was waving her hands in the air, like one of those inflatable gas station balloons?

Nope. Those are her legs, rather, both her tails...?

The point is, whether you noticed it or not, the iconic Starbucks logo has actually changed quite a few times in it's five decades in business. And will likely revamp again!

But while the logo has shifted on the cups themselves, the service and experience you get as a customer should always be the same, no matter when or where in the world you're enjoying the product. And THAT is a direct result of their finely curated branding.

By the way...before you even think about investing some money in hiring a graphic designer, or spend hours trying to do it yourself, it's a good idea to do some research about who else is out there right now in a similar space. You might find that the very logo or design you had in mind is already in use, and perhaps may even be trademarked (which we'll get into in Part III of this series.)

Taking a look at what your competition is doing may feel kinda shady, but it can actually be a healthy exercise to see what a future client of yours might see and react to as an alternative choice on the market. It can also help you avoid the things you think they aren't doing so well. Just pay attention to the specific elements that spark your appeal most, as they may be a little-too-similar to what you want to do yourself.

I shouldn't have to say this, but "copying and pasting" someone else's work is a big no-no. That doesn't mean if someone is using a pair of hand-buoys in their logo, you can't also...But always come back to what I describe in the presentation as "the four main ingredients" to a successful brand! One of them is YOU! What makes what YOU do (offer or sell) so special? And how can you represent that thematically?

There's only so many images, shapes and colors fitness people can choose from when building their brand. Figure out what makes what you're bringing to the table unique, then how you can use it to influence your future branding.

Alright, so what if you're at the stage where you've already got your logo and have begun to build a branded business...? What next?

First, never forget that in all bodies of water, there are predators lurking. And just like in the wild, as a budding professional you need to make smart decisions to survive the arena, as well as evolve and adapt to the changes (and technology) in the market.

Building your own brand is just the first step. Once you got it working for you, part of your new role as a brand owner is protecting it with your life.

And as you'll discover in Part III of this blog series, there are some small but important steps you should be taking to avoid potential bloody waters in the future.

If you're attending MusicCity FitCon this October in Nashville, send me an email to let me know so we can chat about where you are in the process and what steps I recommend you take next!

Be sure to read Part I and Part III of this series on brand building for more!

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