Randy Hetrick is the creator of the TRX Suspension Trainer® and the founder and CEO of TRX®. After completing his military service, Hetrick attended Stanford University's Graduate School of Business where he earned an MBA. He drew on the training experiences of the SEAL teams, martial artists, elite athletes and his own workouts to create the TRX Suspension Trainer. As an inventor, entrepreneur and former Navy SEAL, Hetrick and his team have transformed the way athletes train for competition, soldiers prepare for combat, trainers instruct clients, and physical therapists rehabilitate clients.
TRX Founder Shares His Secrets to Building Your Brand—and Your Business—Like a Pro
Building a successful brand starts with passion. Passion provides the tinder from which your brand’s flames can grow, and without it, you have no light to guide you through dark times. At TRX, our passion for redefining the way people train defines who we are and what we do, providing our customers, trainers, gyms and athletes with a name they can trust in the industry. I want to share with you the framework I’ve used with TRX so that you can channel your own passion into building both your brand and your business. While we have used this framework to build the TRX brand, these tactics can be used to help anyone better define and grow their brand on any scale. (Check out the sidebar below, Branding 101, for a quick primer on some important branding definitions that will become increasingly important to you as you build your brand.)
Brand—the essence of who you are and how you will be identified. This is the promise you make to the customer to meet their needs, whether they be physical, psychological, economic, etc.
Brand strategy—how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating, based on your brand promise. Ultimately, your brand strategy will guide the look and feel of your communications pieces, including graphics and images, and the “voice” or words you choose.
Brand equity—the value of a brand’s overall strength in the marketplace.
Brand familiarity—how well customers recognize and accept a company’s brand (not just their name and logo). Not all brands are seen in a positive light, so it’s important understand your brand’s strengths and weaknesses—what your potential clients remember will be contingent on how they perceive your brand.
Brand leverage—for better or worse, the intentional or accidental borrowing of another brand's strengths or weaknesses, due to your association with them and the effect it has on how people will perceive your brand. In other words, carefully consider the company you keep, because it will affect how you are perceived.
A brand must be more than just a provider of goods and services. All brands produce some kind of product, but the core values a brand embodies serve to distinguish it and set it apart in the marketplace. Building your brand requires that you build the trust of your clients and participants. Whenever they see your brand, they should immediately associate it with your core values. You build your brand with everything you do, from the approach you take to motivate your clients, to your broader training philosophy and the partners whom with you align yourself.
The following two key points have helped TRX develop and evolve from a brand I started in my garage in 2004 to the global brand it has become today. Take time to understand and apply these concepts, and you will push your brand to great heights.
1. KNOW WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO
At the heart of the fitness industry lies a central, guiding tenet that has motivated most of you to forge a career in this field: You change lives. Somewhere along your journey you’ve likely had the profoundly rewarding experience of helping someone move, look or feel better. The experience of helping people better themselves resonated so deeply with you that it became a passion—where all the great brands start. Passion gets you up early, keeps you up late at night and helps you through the hard times.
You do what you do because making a positive impact on the lives of others feels good. Every decision you make as a brand and every action you take should funnel back to this underlying passion.
As a former Navy SEAL, I understand how important clear objectives are for a team to achieve success. Creating a concise mission statement provides a necessary focal point that your entire organization can rally behind. At TRX, our mission is to democratize world-class training. We use this mission to continually focus and inspire our efforts as an organization.
To better define your mission statement, you may want to parse out some of the critical components that work together to help you build your business. At TRX, we invented the acronym “FACE UP” to list the six essential traits that we celebrate and live every day as a company to consistently deliver against our global mission. Our FACEUP traits can be a useful guideline for any brand in the fitness industry that wants to grow, while still maintaining a consistent brand identity.
Fun. We want to make world-class fitness a fun and enjoyable experience. We want to embody that idea and have fun in both the office and the field.
Authentic. Be real and be comfortable with our identity. We also strive to always be reliable and act with integrity in every facet of our business.
Competitive. This might not come as a surprise, but we want to be ambitious, to dream big and to always be resourceful.
Effective. We want to be deliberate in our actions, to be accountable, to be agile and to embrace challenges.
United. We focus on being collaborative and leveraging each other’s talents. We stay aligned in our goals and help each other at every opportunity.
Physical. We are our products and our products are us. Not only do we want to talk the talk, it is of utmost importance that we walk the walk.
I firmly believe a solid corporate culture produces a stronger organization, and we work hard to nurture the seeds of that culture on a daily basis. A company that lacks well-defined essential traits to support its overarching goal is a company doomed for disarray, inconsistency and chaos.
2. DEFINE YOUR VALUES AND STAND BY THEM
What elements of your business fundamentally separate you from others in your field? At TRX, we chose four defining characteristics to stand by no matter what, and our success and survival can be accredited to holding ourselves to these standards. Sticking to your guns, so to speak, will unify your brand in lean times, and grow the trust of your consumers throughout your journey.
Your defining elements must be born from and informed by your passion. As a fitness professional, these four essential elements will set you apart from the crowd and set you up for success:
1. Strive for relentless self-improvement.
Have a thirst for becoming a better trainer, professional, person and athlete.
2. Seek out cutting-edge knowledge.
Don’t just seek to be proficient—go the extra mile to become an expert. Push yourself to learn more by attending conferences, pursuing ongoing education and learning new modalities. Challenge your knowledge by writing articles or blog posts—nothing makes you understand something new like teaching it.
3. Achieve deep experience.
This takes time and effort and requires you to be present and analytical with your training. You must pay attention to what works, what doesn’t and why, with every client or class. Looking for new and different mentors, for example, is one way of growing your experience through others.
4. Aim to become a high-level coach and leader.
Know your clients, remember their intricacies, their weaknesses and strengths. Be attentive and relentless.
As a fitness professional, you carefully design and develop programs to change people’s lives. As a business professional, you must be just as thoughtful, analytical and measured in how you go about building your brand. Know why you do what you do. Define your mission and stick by your values (the downloadable worksheet, below, will be a huge help to you). Doing so will help you to understand, differentiate and grow your brand authentically, and to be the best trainer and businessperson that you can be. My passion helped me build TRX into a world-class brand. Now it’s your turn. Give it everything you have and show the world what your brand can do.
This worksheet outlines five activities to help you grow and build your own brand. Challenge yourself to apply Randy Hetrick’s tips to identify your brand’s mission and goals.
Remember no matter what you are doing about your brand right now, you are building one, because it’s what people are watching you do and they are forming an opinion about what your brand is about. Make sure you are building the brand that you want and the brand that you can invest in.