ABOUT FUNCTIONAL BRANDING

The idea for Functional Branding started shortly after Coach Glassman surprised everybody & dramatically shifted CrossFit® away from the Games & toward Health. In an interview with Morning Chalk Up, he said the changes were "the path to 150,000 affiliates.”

Growing to 150,000 worldwide affiliates is what's known as a BHAG - a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. I loved it.

After all, I fell in love with CrossFit because of a BHAG. In the early days, it was the stated mission of building the fittest humans on Earth that attracted so many of us.

Now, it's this.

Is the number achievable?

I bet on Coach's vision back in 2006 when I helped start Again Faster Equipment. I'm willing to do it again.

That doesn't mean it will be easy. A lot stands in the way. I believe that if it happens, it will be because of individual affiliates doubling-down on improving three areas of their business:

  1. Better Coaching - This includes seeing, correcting, cueing, class management, & nutrition. But just as important, it includes becoming better leaders & understanding the science of how people learn, how they form habits, & how motivation works.

  2. Better Operations - By this, I mean the unsexy parts of running a business. Spreadsheets, facility management, hiring/firing, standard operating procedures. The necessary stuff.

  3. Better Branding - No business in the world gets to ignore its marketing & branding & not see an effect on its growth. The change from the Games to Health is all about course-correcting the brand of CrossFit. Affiliates need to follow suit.

Functional Branding exists to help tackle this third challenge. At its core, it's built atop three principles:

  1. Brand with Intention - Every CrossFit affiliate is already marketing & already building a brand. So let's do it consistently & let's do it on purpose.

  2. Brand with Specificity - CrossFit is for anybody, but it's not for everybody. It's time to get honest about this so you can market your services to the right people - the people most likely to respond.

  3. Brand with Empathy - It's no longer enough to put the word "CrossFit" on your door & expect it to bring you success. You have to market your gym in a way that puts your prospective customers first. You have to meet them where they are & acknowledge that your expertise is only relevant when it relates to their journey.

Functional Branding is built on the assumption that most CrossFit affiliates won't ever have a marketing department & the argument that that's no longer a good enough excuse to ignore it.

It's as essential as building better coaches, & running a smart, efficient business.

If you agree, the best day to have started tackling the challenge was yesterday.

The next best day to start is today.


ABOUT ME

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My name is Patrick Cummings.

I've built brands & created media inside the CrossFit community for over 12 years, including working closely with Ben Bergeron & CrossFit New England for the last four. I've seen the movement grow up from nothing. I've seen what used to work, & I see that it's not necessarily what works today.

I'm not an affiliate owner. That might cause you to wonder if you can trust me. I get that. Truthfully, that I don’t own a gym almost caused me to shelf this idea before it ever began. But I didn’t shelf it, & here’s why:

If I had been running a gym over the last decade, I never would have dived deep into marketing & branding. I never would have read all the books I have. I never would have had the experience & the conversations I have. More than that, I never would have been able to come to the perspective I have. I would have been too busy running the gym.

I didn’t shelf this project, in the end, precisely because I don’t run a gym. I think the distance I have from the daily grind of operating an affiliate gives you an opportunity to see your business through a different set of eyes.

Experience:


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