The Cycle Craze

Source: SoulCycle

Source: SoulCycle

Athlete. Legend. Warrior. Rockstar. Renegade. SoulCycle.  

Branding is incredibly important. The words above can be found all throughout the SoulCycle studios, on their apparel and throughout social media. They want their riders to know this is who they become when they ride. This is the heart of their brand. The co-founder of SoulCycle described her initial plans for their studios in an interview with Racked online magazine

A combination of inspirational instructors, beautiful branded spaces, and amazing music. It’s a dark room that you can lose yourself in. It is a 45-minute cardio party and spiritual experience on the bike. You’re surrounded by an incredible community of people who are all there to support you, not compete with you. It’s both efficient and joyful. In 45 minutes, you are not only toning your body, and getting your cardio and burning calories. Most people say that they come for their bodies and stay for their minds.
— Julie Rice, co-founder of SoulCycle

SoulCycle isn't just another gym. There's a reason that their studios all across the US fill up to the brim, but local gyms don't see the same turnout to their spin classes. They captured an energy that is both motivating and addicting. Even at steep prices per class, many classes fill up and even have waitlists to join. They want you to join their "tribe." 

Everything is accented in yellow - the color associated with joy, happiness and energy. From the moment you walk through the door, their team members greet you and do whatever they can to keep your experience positive. SoulCycle has succeeded in changing the atmosphere around working out. Instead of dreading a 45-minute sweat session, riders line up enthusiastically to grind out any frustrations and focus on the now.

The instructors aren't just fitness experts - they are motivators, coaches, leaders of the pack. The brand of SoulCycle isn't just about their look, it's in everything you experience. The training their instructors and team members go through is rooted in the mission and identity of SoulCycle. The yellow wheel is just the iconic symbol representing the tribe.

Source: SoulCycle

Source: SoulCycle

Their logo falls in line with their brand mission as well. The yellow wheel resembles a sun, reinforcing the ideas of energy and joy. All throughout their studios, you see neon lights that spell out motivating messages. Of all the bottled water companies they could offer in their studios, who better to match the SoulCycle brand than SmartWater?

They aren't just selling a workout, they are selling a lifestyle. SoulCycle has created a world around their routines - and it's a luxurious one. They sell sleek apparel. The candlelit theater (that's actually what the room with bikes is referred to as) is lined with mirrors on one wall and motivational sayings in their standard, strong, sans-serif font on the others. 

Flywheel Sports is another studio that has capitalized on a specific aesthetic. Instead of the dance-party workout, their founders, Ruth Zukerman and former professional football player Tiki Barber, built their studio around competition.

The core "FLY" logo from the Flywheel Sports main website. 

The core "FLY" logo from the Flywheel Sports main website. 

Their main color is blue - a color known for creating feelings of strength, dependability and trust. The language they use throughout their marketing? All about motion. Their riders aren't just biking. They're flying. The hashtag they use for all their social media? #NeverCoast. They are all about adventure and action, and that message begins with their logo. And over the last couple years, the Flywheel Sports brand has evolved - they are more than just cycling. They are also FlyBarre and recently, FlyAnywhere, an at-home cycling program and bike.

Their logos all incorporate the same color scheme and treatment. The tilt of the type creates a sense of motion. They all reinforce the idea of #NeverCoast - constant movement.

Their logos all incorporate the same color scheme and treatment. The tilt of the type creates a sense of motion. They all reinforce the idea of #NeverCoast - constant movement.

Source: Flywheel Sports

Source: Flywheel Sports

They use a stadium-style setup for bikes and keep the energy in the room high. They use a system called TorqBoard to show riders where they are on a power scale in comparison with their fellow riders. Whether you're trying to beat your own record or be top of the class, numbers motivate. That's how Flywheel has created their brand around a work-hard, win-hard look.  

The Flywheel TorqBoard as shared by Instagram user  paatshala . 

The Flywheel TorqBoard as shared by Instagram user paatshala

We’re passionate about working hard, playing hard, and crushing it. In fitness and in life.
— Ruth Zukerman, co-founder of Flywheel Sports

Whatever a company or individual creates their brand to be, it's important that it's strong and stays true to who they want to be. If Flywheel decided to switch to a dance-crazed, positivity-based identity, they'd probably lose a lot of their clients. Likewise, if SoulCycle decided to switch to a competition-driven model, riders wouldn't be as motivated to fill up their bikes. 

A company's brand is one of the first things a customer interacts with - so being intentional and consistent is crucial. SoulCycle and Flywheel are two examples of studios who have used branding to effectively build up their ridership. But they've done even more, they've created a following. And a quick search on Instagram shows just how strong their brands run true.

I've personally been riding with SoulCycle for the past few months. I started because I needed something I enjoyed again to get me working out. I never would've guessed that I would enjoy it the dance-inspired spin class - I thought the dance-y classes would feel too contrived and the energy forced. But I was wrong. They've created an environment where you can feel encouraged and challenged, and even have fun. I have bought in to their brand, and while I may not be a "Soul Survivor" I can appreciate a well-designed brand when I see one.

Have you tried any spin classes? Or do you prefer the brand simplicity of a traditional gym?