What's in a Name? Attention

Josh Martin freely admits his approach to promotion was different after he launched his personal fitness business than before the launch. Martin, the founder of Orange Shoe Gym, since renamed Orange Shoe Personal Fitness, initially was immersed in business details and not thinking enough about concepts like marketing and branding. At first, just having Orange Shoe in the name was enough. "I wanted something that if people heard the name, they would think it's something different, that there is something going on at this place that is different than at Main Street Fitness or Bill's Gym."

The brand research Martin eventually conducted revealed that many fitness industry brands were boring. "I find that a lot of brands, and this is not to bash the competition at all, but they are just not very engaging," he said. "They are kind of generic, sanitary names."


Outside perspectives

Martin had come up with what he thought was a unique name for the franchise, which originated from colorful athletic shoes that always seemed to draw comments – positive or negative, it didn't matter. "That kind of struck me that, hey, people are paying attention," he said.

At first, he did not recognize the distinction of his brand promise of personal fitness, and that it was not reflected in the original name. The name and the brand should have distinguished him from a regular gym because his facility offers personal attention and fitness programs that are tailored to customers.

Martin turned to an advertising agency, Glowac + Harris + Madison, for advice, and also got some counsel from Jimmy of Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches fame, who also happened to be a client of the same agency: "You've got to put who you are in your name," Jimmy told him.

With the agency, Martin aligned the fonts, colors, and tone of his presentation. Naturally, orange is prominently featured.

Looking back, Martin realizes that he benefited from the perspective of outsiders who could take a very critical look at how he was presenting his brand. "When you are the entrepreneur, you are enveloped in it and sometimes lose sight of things that may or may not be obvious," he said.

By the time he contacted the agency, Martin had three locations in Madison, but since rebranding he has opened franchise locations in Chicago and the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield.

His marketing goes beyond traditional channels in that he relies on another technique – collaborating with charity organizations. Orange Shoe, which has a higher price point than most fitness centers, has a fundraising promotion with Big Brothers Big Sisters. To build relationships in Milwaukee, the company is donating $100 to the organization for every new client who comes in the door between now and the end of the year. In contrast to a shotgun, Martin calls this a "sniper" approach.

Wayne Harris, president of Glowac + Harris + Madison, said a lot of companies get started and mistakenly execute marketing piecemeal, cobbling together different things. "They will own a logo and art and come back later and spend a lot more money fixing it," he noted. "In the case of Orange Shoe, Josh made it a franchise company. If this is going to be a franchise, you can't afford to have logos and years later have to change them. That gets expensive for you and the franchisee, so out the of box, you have to do this right."

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