BRANDWORK

Question 14

But First

Take a look back at the very first session in this program. Spend two to three minutes asking yourself this question:

Can we simplify our what & how statement?

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Sound On

With that question in mind, let’s jump into today’s session. Click the play button below to listen.

Listen

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3 Big Ideas

Time to start thinking about how you want to revise your original answer, given the additional context. Before you do, here are some of the key points you should try to keep in mind:

  1. The first draft is never the best draft.

    If you ask any experienced writer, she’ll tell you the first draft of anything isn’t worth very much. Writing a first draft is a lot like searching for a light switch in the dark. You’ll find it, but the path you take won’t be very efficient & it won’t be without slamming your toes once or twice on the coffee table. If you ask her, she’ll tell you that the real value comes when you put the effort in to revisit & revise.

  2. Always revise with an eye toward simplicity, brevity, & clarity.

    One analogy that might be helpful is to compare this process to that of creating your affiliate’s programming. When you’re building out a day’s workout, one goal you have - whether you’re doing it consciously or not at this point - is to seek elegance. Part of the process of seeking elegance is to remove anything unnecessary.

  3. Constraints equal freedom.

    So much of designing & defining your brand is about editing, & so much of editing is about constraints. When an author puts together the first draft of his novel, it’s often way too long to publish. When a director puts together the first cut of her film, it’s often way too long to put in theaters. That’s because the first draft isn’t about focusing on the constraints, but about the ideas. The second & third & tenth draft is about whittling those ideas down to the most important, most cohesive ones.

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All the Words

Congratulations on completing Sections One & Two of the program. In many ways, you’ve now written down everything you need to begin branding your gym better. All the work we do going forward will be sourced from & inspired by the answers currently on your Brandwork document. Given that, it's important you don't move forward without spending a little time looking back. We want to review your answers now with an eye toward simplicity, brevity, & clarity.

If you ask any experienced writer, she’ll tell you the first draft of anything isn’t worth very much. Writing a first draft is a lot like searching for a light switch in the dark. You’ll find it, but the path you take won’t be very efficient & it won’t be without slamming your toes once or twice on the coffee table. If you ask her, she’ll tell you that the real value comes when you put the effort in to revisit & revise.

That’s what this Section is going to be about: editing.

We’re going to begin making our edits by simplifying your answer to the first question posed in Section One: What do you do & how do you do it?

Let’s use a few of our example gyms to show what this process looks like.

At our Community Gym, the What & How statement reads:

We are a full-family gym that creates a vibrant environment for our group CrossFit classes. Our music is almost as loud as our laughter. We pride ourselves in reducing the intimidation factor that keeps too many people from getting healthy.

Our goal in this session is to turn that statement into a single sentence. We'll do it using no jargon & less than fifteen words. (Why fifteen words? To paraphrase Jocko: Constraints equal freedom.)

To begin doing so, look for the one or two big ideas inside the current statement. One way to figure out what those ideas are is to look for those things that, if removed, would not fundamentally alter the meaning or the purpose of the statement.

One analogy that might be helpful is to compare this process to that of creating your affiliate’s programming. When you’re building out a day’s workout, one goal you have - whether you’re doing it consciously or not at this point - is to seek elegance. Part of the process of seeking elegance is to remove anything unnecessary. (The dictionary definition of elegance, in regard to scientific theory or a solution to a problem, is: “pleasingly ingenious and simple.”)

As an overly-simplistic example of what I mean, you wouldn’t program this workout: 21-15-9 of thrusters, pull-ups, & double-unders. Why not? Because the double-unders are at best redundant & at worst work counter to the intended stimulus of the workout.

So as we look at our Community Gym’s statement, what can we cut out without losing the overall intent?

In the first sentence, I think we keep only this: “We are a full-family gym.” Everything after that is nice to have, but not necessary to understand what this gym does.

We can omit entirely the second sentence for the same reason.

In the last sentence, the most important element here is the notion of reducing the intimidation factor.

After those edits, we’re left with this: “We are a full-family gym that prides itself in not being intimidating.”

Truth be told, I don’t hate this. But we can do better. I don’t like the phrasing of “not being intimidating.” It’s clunky & focuses on a negative instead of a positive. I also think “full-family gym” is not a commonly used phrase, so I'd opt for something a little more plain-spoken.

My first stop is the thesaurus. (If you don’t visit a thesaurus at least a couple times throughout this Section, I don’t think you’re trying hard enough.) Looking for the opposite of the word “intimidating,” we find things like: “welcoming,” “encouraging,” & “supporting.”

Keeping the same basic sentence structure as we’ve got, but solving for my two current issues, we’ve now got something like this: “We are a gym that serves the entire family by welcoming, encouraging, & supporting our members.”

To return to my programming analogy, what we’ve got here is thrusters & pull-ups. We’ve got the right movements. Now we need to settle on a rep scheme.

In other words, we need to seek a little bit of elegance. My suggestion on how to do this is to write out three, six, eight different options using the same component parts & see what feels right. Share it with a few people & get their feedback. Sleep on it & revisit it in the morning with some fresh eyes.

Here are a few options I’ve come up with for this gym, remembering to avoid jargon & keep it to less than fifteen words:

We’re a gym that supports the whole family as they pursue better lives through fitness.

Welcoming & encouraging your entire family to achieve better health through better movement.

Welcoming, encouraging, & supporting the whole family through fitness.

I’d be satisfied with any of these. I’d pick the last one of the bunch, though, if for no other reason than it’s the shortest.

Let’s take a look at our Corporate Gym for one more example of this editing process in action.

As a reminder, here’s their What & How Statement:

We are a conveniently-located CrossFit gym offering forty-five minute, coach-led classes throughout the day. Our program will get you fitter than you’ve ever been, increase your energy so you accomplish more, & get you back to the office looking & feeling better than ever.

What are the one or two big ideas here?

I'd argue that the first is convenience & the second is the notion of “getting you fitter than you’ve ever been.”

Stripping away all the unnecessary bits of their statement, then, we’re left (rather crudely this time around) with something like this: “We are a gym focused on convenience & getting you fitter than you’ve ever been.”

Hardly the work of poets.

But it’s a good place to start seeking some elegance.

The first place I’d start is to strike the phrase “we are a gym.” Given that the name of this business is likely some variation of CrossFit XYZ, stating that it’s a gym is redundant & unnecessary.

We’re left with: “Focused on convenience & getting you fitter than you’ve ever been.”

Focused is a nice word, but uninspiring. Back to the thesaurus & we get some new options: “fixated,” “immersed,” “concentrated.” Good, but not great. Diving deeper down the rabbit hole, we look at synonyms for “fixated” & get “obsessed.” That’s closer.

What’s that cliche? “Obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.”

We want to stay away from obsessed, but "dedication" is a great word.

So now we’ve got: “Dedicated to convenience & getting you fitter than you’ve ever been.”

Convenience is a terrible word. Nobody gets inspired by the prospect of the convenient option (even though most people do choose it most of the time.) Let’s try to keep the intent but focus on the actual problem this gym is seeking to solve.

When they say convenience, what do they mean? Since we’ve been building out their Brandwork document together, you can guess that what they’re talking about is maximizing effectiveness while minimizing time in the gym. Another way to say that might be: “Get in, get to work, & get out.”

Again, hardly inspiring. But it’s a step in the right direction. It gets us closer to our being able to come up with two, five, or nine different options to play around with.

Here are a few to consider, once again keeping our constraints in mind:

Dedicated to getting you fit & getting you to back to work.

Dedicated to getting people fit & getting them back to work.

Dedicated to getting you in, getting you fit, & getting you back to your life.

A few solid variants to pick from. Of these, I’d lean toward the last one. It’s the longest, but the one that feels the most representative of the notion of efficiency.

So much of designing & defining your brand is about editing, & so much of editing is about constraints. When an author puts together the first draft of his novel, it’s often way too long to publish. When a director puts together the first cut of her film, it’s often way too long to put in theaters. That’s because the first draft isn’t about focusing on the constraints, but about the ideas. The second & third & tenth draft is about whittling those ideas down to the most important, most cohesive ones. They’re about the stripping away of everything unnecessary. They're about pursuing impact by chasing clarity.

That's what Section Three is all about: clarity in pursuit of impact. It starts with being able to create a single sentence that demonstrates the fundamental promise your gym is making.

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Our Pretend Gyms

[ Full Example Gym Brandwork Docs here: Community | Corporate | Competitive ]

Answers to today’s question:

Community Gym:

Welcoming, encouraging, & supporting the whole family through fitness.

Corporate Gym:

Dedicated to getting you in, getting you fit, & getting you back to your life.

Competitive Gym:

A program that builds, develops, & encourages athletes to become champions.

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Time to Do Work

With what you just learned in mind, revisit your original answer to Question One. Open up your Brandwork Doc & let’s begin to simplify.

Check Yourself

Now that you have options for your new one-liner, here’s something worth doing:

  1. Take the four, five, or ten versions you came up with & narrow it down to you favorite three. Share it with a few coaches or members whose opinions you trust. Don’t give them too much context & ask them which one they most positively respond to.

Coming Attractions

Similar to what you just did, the next session is going to look at your prospective clients’ wants & try to create a solid, memorable tagline from it. Here are five excellent examples of taglines to get your mind moving:

· The Ultimate Driving Machine (BMW)
· Impossible is Nothing (Adidas)
· Think Different (Apple)
· Yes We Can (2008 Obama campaign)
· Because I’m Worth It (L’Oreal)