Fitness First rebrands in an attempt at dispelling ‘Finance First’ reputation

The new Fitness First logo

The new Fitness First logo

Fitness First Australia has rebranded, replacing its blue logo with a new red ‘F’ logo which is said to symbolise “passion, energy and strength” and is set to launch its first ever Australian brand campaign in a $5m push.

The rebranding saw the fitness chain transform its fitness philosophy, customer service and clubs as part of the brand attempting to find its way after becoming too focussed on price and location.

Marketing manager Anthony McDonough told Mumbrella: “Fitness First found itself in a lot of trouble primarily because it had a reputation of being Finance First where it was always putting finance before members.

“As with most organisations when you’re a market leader and you don’t have any competition you get a little bit lazy, you take the eye off the member and you end up focussing on yourself as opposed to your members and that absolutely happened at Fitness First.”

The chain has invested more than $20m in the past 12 months and will continue the transformation by doubling that during 2014 across capital expenditure, staff training and new products.

“For the last 18 months we’ve been on a change journey which has been about changing the way we do business, putting members first and finding a way for us to reconnect with the Australian public.”

The old Fitness First logo

The old Fitness First logo

Customer experience agency MercerBell assisted the chain develop the creative execution and the new message of ‘Change is for the best’ while UK independent brand consultancy agency The Clearing developed the new logo.

And changing the logo from blue to red was deliberate, McDonough said.

“When we spoke to ex-members globally, when we asked them what would it take for you to re-evaluate Fitness First, they were very clear that we could no longer be blue because blue to them was the old Fitness First and if we wanted them to believe and have a signal of change we had to change our colour.

“We looked at yellow and we looked at green and we looked at red and red came through as a strong, powerful, vibrant, energetic colour that said this is the brand direction we wanted to go in.”

Five clubs across Sydney – The Zone, Market St, Kings Cross, Darlinghurst and Bondi Junction Platinum – will be the first gyms to showcase the new brand with the physical rollout to be completed within the next three years.

FF-Interior2“The actual true rebrand is what’s happening with our people and that will be completed within the next six months,” McDonough said.

“We say to our people you may still have a blue logo above the door but you have red running through the heart.”

As part of the rebrand, Fitness First is implementing a new training process which will see every single person who works in the chain’s gyms trained on how to deal with customers.

McDonough said: “We’re talking to every one of our staff members and saying to them this is the new way of customer service for us for the future, the member comes first and if you can’t change the way we’re changing we don’t you working in our business.

“We’re spending in excess of three days with every one of our employed staff training them around member experience, not around sales, not around contracts but how to actually deal with members in our clubs. We’re really the only gym chain in the world that’s investing that much in our people.”

The chain has a number of what McDonough calls “proof points” to highlight to members the rebrand is more than just a logo change.

The most notable change has seen the chain introduce a ‘Pay As You Go’ membership system, removing the necessity for a contract and allowing members greater flexibility through being able to pre-purchase a number of visits when it suits them.

fitness_first_cards“We lost the trust of our members and of our ex-members through our contracts, there was a feeling when you joined Fitness First you joined forever and you could never get out of a contract,” said McDonough. “It’s one of those things that we are absolutely committed to changing.”

The options include a 4-week membership or a 10 visit pass.

“We’re the only chain in Australia and potentially globally that offers this as an option,” McDonough said.

The chain is also introducing a “Fitness Guarantee” which allows members who use their membership on average three times or more per week to cancel their membership – even within contract – at any time, without notice.

“We believe we’re the first in the world to offer that and the reason we’re doing that is because our competitors are here building small boxes, filling them with equipment and selling lots of memberships and hoping people don’t come – that’s the old way the fitness industry works – and what we’re doing is actually we want our members to come and use our clubs,” McDonough explained.

The chain launched its rebrand with a visit from Academy Award winner and fitness guru Jane Fonda .

“Primarily we’ve bought her out because our new brand is about more than sweating it out in the gym it’s about how people go further in their life through fitness,” McDonough said.

“We believe she is a great ambassador for relaunching our brand and getting the message across that fitness helps you go further in life.”

As part of the new brand, the chain will also roll out a range of new fitness  and will showcase the new brand as part of its upcoming sponsorship of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras and the Fitness First Corporate Triathlon National Series.

Miranda Ward



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