JED Athletes: The Beginning
JED Athletes: The Beginning
When James Davis approached me with his idea for a startup, it didn’t have a name, it didn’t have a business model, it didn’t have a purpose. What it had was the promise of a more flexible work schedule and the prospect of exceeding the income cap Davis had reached working 60 hours each seven-day workweek as the head personal trainer at the local neighborhood tennis and swim club.
He hadn’t taken more than two days off each year since he started at the club and he’d maxed out his schedule. And so, five years into his career, he had reached his income limit. After all, there are only so many hours in a day to fill with clients.
Davis’s solution: online personal training.
Unsure how or where to start, he reached out to me. Together, we started fleshing out his goals for the business: what he really wanted to get out of it, who his ideal clients would be, what infrastructure would be required, what his niche would be, etc.
What would eventually end up being JED Athletes (an acronym of his first, middle, and last name that would double as the name of the brand personality) started out on a very different path. The first option we worked on was Half-Ass Fitness.
Half-Ass Fitness would be the 1-on-1 online personal training that targeted people who wanted to improve their health and fitness without flipping their entire lives upside down and becoming fitness fanatics. These clients didn’t want to spend hours at the gym every day or give up their favorite treats. Instead, they wanted easy, approachable, and attainable lifestyle swaps that they could gradually adopt. Slowly, as they accumulated more and more techniques to apply to their everyday life, they would see the results of their work in incremental but meaningful changes in numbers like their cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight.
That was back in October.
Now, after further exploration of not only Davis’s talents, but also his passions, the startup has morphed into a different kind of service with a very different kind of niche. Once Davis expressed that his favorite kinds of clients to work for in-person were motivated student athletes, it seemed clear to me that we should build his business not only around what Davis actually enjoyed doing, but around a hole in the marketplace. Every other big online personal training company focuses on helping the average person improve their overall fitness, lose weight, and offer motivation to keep with it. With our new insights, we built a program that targets one specific niche of clients. By offering it online, Davis could save money in operating costs and those savings could be passed on to the clients. This allowed him to offer personal training tailored to the needs of student athletes who oftentimes wouldn’t be able to afford one-on-one attention in an in-person training setting (where rates start at $75 per session).
With our niche nailed down, we went to work researching competitor offerings, rates, and software options. Once the bare bones of the business model were set up, I started building our online presence. I registered our domain name, set up social media accounts, designed the logo, and began developing the website and copy.
Next, I dedicated my time to defining our imagery and finding photographers who matched our brand. I wanted the brand to resonate with high school athletes, but I didn’t want to compete with (or, more likely, resemble a sad copycat of) established health and fitness brands already out there (ahem, Nike).
To avoid the cliche, I started looking to move the brand personality away from rugged and toward exciting. Our target market is high school students. While our ideal clients should be (and ideally are) motivated and determined to perform well in their sport, they’re also teenagers. They’re young, energetic, sociable, and connected.
Because of our specific audience, JED’s brand personality needed to resemble a kind of athletic mentor. JED is the ex-college athlete who’s been successful in his sport, knows the ins and outs of building functional strength, and has chosen to spend his post-career giving back. He’s a relatable yet aspirational figure. He has a conversational tone of voice but is straight forward and direct.
His decision to position himself as a mentor for young athletes specifically speaks to the spirit of JED. JED isn’t about being the best at all costs. Instead, JED represents inclusion, collaboration, and goodwill. It’s about offering a hand. Everyone is welcome on the JED field. JED Athletes is about offering any student the opportunity to be the best athlete they can be, regardless of scheduling or financial restrictions.
The secondary brand personality trait I wanted JED to embody was competence. JED isn’t a program to build brawn. It’s a program for athletes who want increased performance where it matters: on the field. To do that, the training had to focus on the individual metrics and body type of each client, the sport and position they play, and their personal goals. To succeed, JED training needed to rely on science. So, with that in mind, we wanted to develop a brand personality that elicits confidence in its competence. We need to build trust and assure real results.
Combining these top two brand personality traits, JED imagery needs to be bright, colorful, relatable, and intriguing. Exciting, yet down-to-Earth. Informative and direct, yet conversational and casual. The photography needed to focus on images that feature young athletes, strong color blocking, eye contact, and a little bit of humor. Most of our photos so far feature very serious-looking athletes, but I want JED to have more dimension and personality than that. JED needs to be relatable.
After finishing the JED Athletes Brand Guide Book, the next steps would be finishing up the social media strategy, putting together a content calendar, and creating strategic copy that helps us move toward our main business goals of establishing the JED brand and building a strong JED community.