Greetings from Forage HQ. We’re enjoying our new-found freedom again, especially haircuts and indoor pints. But in between the salons and the one way system to the bar, we’ve been somewhat neglecting our bodies and really missing the magic that makes everyone feel good...yoga! With a real life instructor and the vibes you can only get from an actual group class.
It’s been a tough year for exercise studios. But our yoga-pals at LEVELSIX Studios in South East London are still standing, because they’re a bit brilliant and have a strong brand and a loyal community base. If you’re just starting up, we want to share tips to get your wellbeing studio brand in shape, without pulling any muscles along the way.
As a start-up, you need to be armed with strong individual values, tone of voice, logo and a graphic style guide that will propel your business into the future. After we created LEVELSIX Studios’ new brand identity, they saw signups increase by 200% in their first month. Getting your brand right is a messy (but excellent) team activity that involves: A bottomless supply of sticky notes, a substantial wall, Deliveroo on speed dial and your team’s weird and wonderful brains (that are open to being rummaged through). We love it. A few pointers here to get you going:
Talk to your community - people in your local bars, cafes, parks, libraries (but quietly shhh). We can’t stress how important this is - to work out who would use your studio, what they want specifically and also to spread the word of your soon to launch, dream studio.
Check out their reviews. Look at how they have marketed themselves. Try them out yourself and see what they are doing right and wrong. Maybe don’t wear a t-shirt that’s branded with your new logo. Or a creepy disguise. Just try to blend in.
All studios are warm, engaging, friendly, vibrant. What else? Do you have the best facilities? State of the art equipment? Loyalty incentives? French-speaking instructor? E-Scooter valeting? It is your differences that make you awesome.
This is the boring bit that you’ll thank us most for (you’re welcome). You’ll need a manageable web platform and some scheduling software that works. Yes, snore...think of these next points as necessary mid-session back-bends.
A completely new, custom-designed, animated website with an integrated backend management system sounds just great, but it’s often beyond most startups’ financial reach and requires full-time management. We suggest working with a web designer to produce something simple, and manage it yourself. Both Webflow and Squarespace are easy for a small team to look after. Webflow offers you much more visual customisation and room to expand, but Squarespace does what it needs to initially and is the more cost-effective option.
There a bunch of templates which could help get you started, you will just need a designer/developer to pull together the ‘look’ with your brand palette, logos and layout
Like any instructor that’s worth their yoga socks, Mindbody Online is easy to understand, streamlined and super-interactive. It’s the best option out there and is evolving all the time. As mentioned earlier, you could get someone to design something bespoke, but you’ll just end up having them permanently on speed-dial.
There’s a lot to think about when you design and write your website. Pages can become sprawling and unwieldy very quickly. Some things to watch out for:
On average, around 85% of traffic (for yoga/pilates/exercise class websites) will direct straight through the booking page. So make your “Book Classes” button visible. And big.
Use a tagline and a photo above the fold (top of the page) to get your values across. We went for this for LevelSix Studios and this for The Reach climbing centre. Both do all the things, don’t you think?
This is where you tell your customer who you are and what you can do for them - why you set up your studio, about your instructors, your classes, your community. Go on, make them love you.
It’s good to be a friendly expert in tone of voice, but not unattainable or exclusive as this might put off some beginners. Talk about your teachers and their experience, the health benefits of your classes and the support your customers will get, rather than becoming an advanced yogi (an unattainable goal for most).
Your studio may not be photo-ready yet, but your instructors are. Good idea to shoot (capture on camera, not kill) them off-site before you open, or ask friendly locals. Invite them all to your launch event too. (If there’s a lot of them, tell them to bring their own prosecco).
We’re looking forward to seeing the new wellbeing communities that grow out of 2021. If you’re starting up, let’s chat through your branding and marketing ideas, you can get us here. In the meantime, we’ll been dusting the dog hair off our own yoga mats, and getting into some classes IRL. See you out there.