In an effort to shed its “Finance First” reputation global gym empire Fitness First is undergoing a brand overhaul, including a $5m marketing blitz and a local $20m upgrade.
To “reclaim their reputation” the business is launching a new logo and marketing campaign, the latter of which was created by MercerBell, and introducing new memberships, including pay-as-you-go and seasonal contracts.
The rebrand comes after a survey revealed some hard truths for the company, which was acquired by Oaktree Capital Management in 2012.
“We asked the classic question you know ‘what do you think of us’,” marketing director Anthony McDonough said, addressing the survey put forward to current and ex members.
“Seventy-five percent were positive, 25% were either ‘didn’t care’ or were negative,” McDonough revealed.
But 5% did not like the brand at all.
While the local recognition rate for Fitness First as a fitness company is 86%, the company has some severe trust issues.
“When we asked, ‘who do you trust’, they said ‘everybody else’,” McDonough said.
‘Change for the best’:
The new giant red ‘F’ logo, created by UK-based design company The Clearing, is a signal to the public that Fitness First has changed, with the marketing campaign to run across outdoor, radio and digital media.
From the survey, the message was clear that the company could no longer be blue. “Because while you’re blue, you’re the old Fitness First,” McDonough told B&T.
With the re-brand launching today the company’s new philosophy to “go further” not only applies to members, but also symbolises the company’s complete 360 degree transformation from the inside out.
Heading the opening period of the campaign is the slogan “change for the best”, a double entendre for the members and the company.
Today also marks the return of member recognition and reward program, New You, with Olympic swimmer medalist Libby Trickett as spokesperson and ambassador.
“We recognise that we need to change,” McDonough said. “Therefore if we can change, you can change.”
This complete relaunch is the first time Fitness First has marketed itself as a brand and is the biggest move the company has taken in its 20 year global history. The rebrand is also taking place in the UK where The Telegraph reports the overhaul comes with a price-tag of £270m.
“This is really the first time we’ve ever gone above-the-line with something more than a sales message,” McDonough said.
“So this is really the first time we’re talking about building a Fitness First brand.”
Investing $20 million last year on touching up all 78 of its gyms across Australia, whether it be a dash of paint and new carpet or a complete transformation and update, Fitness First will spend another $20 million in 2014 across its gyms, staff training and new products.
Using local creative agency, MercerBell, the campaign will target current and ex members through personalised messages to show them how the brand and company has changed.
Leaving behind ‘Finance First’:
Unveiling the rebranding in Sydney’s Market Street club today is fitness superstar Jane Fonda, where a myriad of new promises, structures and practices from Fitness First will also be launched.
One of those promises includes a complete overhaul and upgrade of the company’s customer service.
All Fitness First staff and externally hired personal trainers will undergo a rigorous three day customer service training.
Once a club has reached a certain level of customer service and satisfaction, they will be allowed to don the new red logo and shirts in honour of their achievement.
Introducing an Australian first system of pay-as-you-go, members can purchase packs of five, ten or fifty passes to use at your leisure where you only pay for what you use.
Fitness First has also developed a simple 28-day cancellation notice policy, meaning no confusing “two direct debit payment” rules, as well as the ability to cancel without warning and without charge if you’ve been breaking a sweat on average three days a week.
McDonough also recognises customers join for a “reason, a season or a lifetime”, and Fitness First will now offer contracts to members to meet these needs.
The entirety of the transformation is expected to take around three to four years, staggering the updates throughout Fitness First’s gyms across Australia.
Due to the fact that Fitness First is widely and globally recognised fitness company, it has a large amount of sway when it comes to the public.
“The thing is, because we’re the biggest, we tend to set the industry standard and so what people think of the industry is pretty much what people think of us and vice versa.”