What the hell is a brand anyway?

How do you define your own personal yoga brand? Should your studio have a brand? Why is branding relevant to yoga? Aren’t we all about to sell our spirituality to the devil?

Do I HAVE to create one….?!

Dear reader – branding is not a dirty word.

But I guess the cult of celebrity has got a lot to answer for. Whereas once upon a time everyone wanted to be famous for 15 minutes, have the ‘Rachel’ haircut or launch a perfume, we now rebel against the culture of brands.

The undiscovered original, the underground, and the vintage are apparently where it’s at – again.

It’s especially difficult for yoga teachers to get to grips with the importance of brand. It’s commercial. It stinks of the kind of ego-driven self promotion that we are taught to reject. At times, it seems that what you look like, the clothes you wear, and how many Facebook ‘likes’ you get is overtaking the actual yoga.

I mean, you just want to teach right?

Sssh! The cult of the global brand that shall remain nameless

Lee Anne Finfinger recently wrote a hilarious defence of being out there in the yoga world, advancing her skills and working hard on her personal brand.

She is – gasp! – a proud two time LuluLemon Ambassador. She’s concerned that her out-front and-centre approach is unfairly judged, but refuses to apologise:

Why I cross the line: teaching yoga on my terms

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re bendy and stunning enough to represent a global retailer, my view is you should go for it with everything you’ve got.

However, one of the important things to remember is that incorporating a strong sense of brand into your business strategy doesn’t mean being over-commercialised or inauthentic. You CAN make it work for you.

As yoga teachers we put ourselves under a giant amount of pressure – we invest sweat and tears into our asana practice, we look to teach with both authority and grace and we aspire to some tough lifestyle standards.

What developing your brand does however, is give you the chance to let your uniqueness shine through and attract the right audience to your teaching. Once you get comfortable with the concept, you can let your brand do some of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to developing your career.

Unleash your creativity – why not?juice branding

A quick story: a friend of mine has a wildly successful business. The product is straightforward and not new or groundbreaking AT ALL. He manufactures and distributes accessories for mobile phones. Nothing new there, right?

But the way he has packaged and marketed these products, in neon tetrapak cartons under the brand Juice, has caught the imagination of the corporate world and unlocked their budgets.

It’s a classic example of clever, creative and consistent thinking around brand transforming the familiar into something extraordinary. My friend can’t ship quickly enough.

Back to you dear reader. What does this mean for you as one individual in an increasingly crowded marketplace of yoga teachers?

Well, it means putting some thinking into what makes you excellent and different in terms of the value and experience you bring to your students.

Let me give you an example. I know a teacher who places extra emphasis on giving strong, compassionate, confident adjustments. She brings a level of interaction to her classes that you would never get in, say, Bikram where the experience is altogether much more transactional.

That’s part of her ‘brand’.

By the way, while we are on the subject – the Bikram brand has its own strength in that it’s the pinnacle of consistency. You always know what you’re gonna get, and Bikram devotees evangelise about the mental freedom such a structured practice gives them.

But let’s get down to definitions

Of course, from a yoga perspective, there is a lot more to brand than the style of yoga you teach.

The word brand is usually synonymous with a product, and one that has an original, reliable and well-defined offering. Nike trainers make you run faster, Fairy Liquid keeps your hands soft and Red Bull gives you wings, that sort of thing.

How can this apply to yoga given that we are people, and not products? There are a number of more helpful definitions, but this is my favourite:

It’s what people say about you when you are not in the room.

It’s the promise of an experience.

And here’s the rub: given that yoga is a highly experiential activity, students will attach as much, if not more, importance to the ‘feeling’ they get from a teacher or a studio as they would to other practical considerations like cost or location.

Will I travel an hour for my favourite teacher? Hell yeah.

And this is why brand is crucial as you start to build your reputation, your following, and your business.

This is a hugely hot topic for a lot of people just starting their yoga teaching career. There is a lot of contradictory information out there and it can be mystifying. So we’ve put together a short but definitive Step by Step Guide to Defining your Brand.

It will look at what makes up a yoga brand, how you go about defining your brand, the key things you need to consider when creating your brand and the steps you can take to get your brand out into the world.

It’s part of the ‘Yoginomics Marketing Engine’ and you can access Yoginomics 101 TODAY: Click HERE to find out more

About The Author

Jules Barber

Jules Barber is the Founder & Creator of Yoginomics. Having worked in a golden cage in London for 15 years she sold out of her business to become a yoga teacher, corporate wellness specialist and location independent entrepreneur, on a mission to mentor and coach the next generation of amazing yogis - teachers and students alike.

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