Julie O’Day is based in East Lansing, Michigan where she runs a health & wellness practice called O’Day Studios (ODS). Julie’s been a massage therapist for 20 years. Three years ago she added Gyrotonic Training® to her studio’s repertoire of services.
Gyrotonic Training® is the main tool that we as a group use and it’s what we “sell” to the public. It is a format for body mechanics retraining, based in strength and flexibility work like yoga and pilates, but with some qualitative differences. We have roughly 35 regular students who come every week. What I know about them is that they LOVE us. They are an amazing, loyal, appreciative bunch that keeps all of us trainers inspired to grow the studio more. But getting someone TO the studio in the first place? Touuuuuugh…”
Also: she hates the term “Gyrotonic Training®”. No one can remember it, or pronounce it. But she is “stuck with it” because it is a licensed modality and trademarked name that she is legally bound to use.
Julie needed help refining what her product is so she can do a better job of marketing it. She wanted to build the reputation of the studio on the outcomes of the students, rather than the tool she uses – Gyrotonic Training® – to get there. She also felt she may not adequately understand how her students are seeing the overall the brand experience.
Furthermore, she found it difficult to verbalize what really makes her organization different from the competition.
These were all branding issues the Brand Recipe process could address.
Stone Soup worked together with Julie’s Branding Team of six staff over the course of 8 weeks. Here are some of the highlights of our work together:
1. Baseline brainstorming
The branding team got together to “balance” perceptions. Stone Soup posed questions to the group such as:
- What’s in it for us to develop an authentic brand for our organization?
- What’s in it for me?
We examined current perceptions: how did they think the organization is perceived, internally and externally, at this moment? This included both positive and negative terms.
Similarly we discussed desired perceptions: how would they like the organization to be perceived? Terms that rose to the top included masterful; educational; profitable; authentic; and humanistic.
Julie may want to try keeping her team’s desired perceptions in front of them daily, reminding them that these words describe her organization and that they should always think, speak, and act in these ways.
2. Values and Personality
In order for potential students to connect emotionally with her organization, Julie needs to do the same thing she’d do if she wanted to connect emotionally with another individual. She’d show them who she is.
Character and Personality terms can be used in much the same way as desired perceptions, and with even more applications. Every communication ODS develops should reflect their Character and Personality and they can use these terms as filters for everything that goes out. Is their brochure warm enough? Are their public presentations creative? Does the website copy feel genuine, with a place for resources or other links to learn more, since they are mentoring? They should, since these are some of their Character and Personality traits.
3. Ideal Customer
We developed an Ideal Customer Profile to make sure that everything Julie does in terms of marketing is directed towards this one individual. Her ad copy should speak directly to this person. Imagery used in communications should be chosen to appeal directly to this person. Everything from public speaking presentations down to the way people answer the phone should be directed toward this one specific customer. With one person in mind to talk to, her communications will become more clear and focused.
Some of her ideal customer traits included:
- Woman in her 50s and 60s
- Professional, $50k – $80k income
- Drives a Prius or other hybrid
- She’s seeking an affordable path to staying healthy and pain-free as she gets older
4. Brand Positioning
Definition of Positioning: Supplying a reason to buy in the minds of your customers
O’Day Studio’s positioning is the backbone of their marketing. It’s what makes them different from every other organization, and its main purpose is to supply a reason to buy. Her positioning should be bold, and appear on every bit of marketing she does, so her customers and prospects can immediately know her purpose and value. She should state it clearly on her website, in her literature, in her advertising, and even in her e-mail signature.
5. Validation Research
Research was done to validate the decisions of the Branding Team in regards to Brand Values, Personality and Positioning. The insights gleaned from 20 student interviews are invaluable as Julie moves through her marketing communications. She learned what her stakeholders need in order to connect better with her – powerful information, but only if she uses it. She needs to showcase the strengths that surfaced as a result of the surveys:
“They’re committed, honest, and each of them is interested in MY well-being, they’re not just in it for themselves. They do it because they love it and they care about the people they work with.” – Student’s response from survey
…as well as address any weaknesses, such as brand fragmentation – people don’t always know who everyone is at the company, and what they do:
“Who does what? What are all the services? I know Julie does massage but is it under the umbrella of ODS? I don’t know who everyone is and what they do. Other products and services aren’t being pushed on me, which is good, but on the other hand, I’d like to know.” – Student’s response from survey
6. Branding Report
Stone Soup submitted a final report to Julie that included the results of all of the exercises the Branding Team went through together, with notes and examples, including a Graphic Standards Manual and a sample marketing postcard design template.
For Julie at O’Day Studios, branding took a strong conviction of her company’s services; an honest look at her company values; a commitment to get involved in the process; and a willingness to throw out old habits and start from scratch.
This was a successful formula for Julie because:
- Internally, she and the Branding Team agree. There is ownership and understanding at a deep level – her people will now buy in to carry the brand forward
- Externally: the brand is authentic and based on facts, not trends or great design
- Her audience can now connect with the values, character and personality of the ODS brand
- Her message has strength and depth, it will be referred to, and will stand the test of time
She’ll be able to use her new brand strategy to direct the information in her brochures, website, blog, direct mail, and other marketing vehicles as well as her sales efforts, staff communications, and for things to talk about with students, partners, collaborators, and other audiences. Everything she communicates from this point forward will indicate her Positioning, and come from her Core Values and Personality. The benefits she offers her audiences will be clear, and she’ll be able to talk about it.
The main problem I struggled with initially was that I thought it was simply about getting the right tagline or logo. But as I went through your process, I realized that the problem was deeper than that. I didn’t have a conscious enough understanding of my own values, how they were being expressed through my business choices, and how to bring them more fully and consistently into my business practices.”
– JULIE ANN O’DAY, OWNER, O’DAY STUDIOS