Careers & Entrepreneurship / Editorial

Building a Brand in a Saturated Market

Launching in a busy market can have its advantages. The challenge is standing out from the 10s, 100s or 1000s of other brands playing in your field, fighting for market share. 

When we launched STRONG Pilates we knew there was a massive new-age boutique fitness consumer that loved pilates, HIIT and strength training. In November 2023, Pilates became the most popular genre in the fitness industry globally for booking as per ClassPass data.

So how did we get to 50 locations in such a short time when the market is flooded with Pilates offerings? Here are some key factors you need to consider when launching a brand in a saturated space: 

BRAND (Brand first, everything next) 

Being new to market effectively means ‘no runs on the board’ – to counter this, you need to build a story that resonates and cuts through. The story or ‘the why’ needs to be backed up by brand values, impeccable copywriting, styleguide, and very clear brand positioning. I’ll give an example:


WHAT: Pilates inspired. Cardio Infused. Part resistance, part cardio, a full body workout that’s high intensity and low impact. For those down for more. More sweat, more self-care, more results.

WHY: To be the reason people live better, through longevity in training and connection to community, by delivering innovative fitness technology, in an experience worthy of advocacy. 

VALUES: Sustainability – no single use plastics, Authenticity – we are unapologetically ourselves. Community – our studios are a safe space to grow, connect & thrive.

POSITIONING: Gender neutral. Bridge the gap between Reformer Pilates, HIIT and Strength & Conditioning. 

Multiple Touchpoints

Defining who you are and why you do what you do is the first challenge, the next challenge is amplifying that message so everyone else knows about it.

At STRONG, we spend 4-5 times our required marketing budget (2% annual revenue of STRONG locations) to ensure people are seeing us 4,5,6…10, 11 times.

In most cases it’s important to take a multi-channel approach and diversify comms across various media. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Social Media (organic)
  • Meta Ads
  • PR
  • Referral 
  • Gorilla Marketing
  • Podcast (organic & sponsored)
  • EDM
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Brand Collaboration & Partnership
  • LAM 
  • Event Marketing
  • Billboard

Sometimes thinking outside the square can be super effective. A few years back we flew a seaplane from the Gold Coast to Brisbane with a sign saying “BORED OF PILATES? @STRONG” – although it’s hard to measure ROI for something like that, we had local media run the story and the video went viral across social media. Those intangible factors all play a part in someone recognising, and ultimately consuming your brand after seeing it multiple times. 

Intellectual Property 

Here’s the big one — IP! If you really want to add value to your business, start thinking about what it is that really makes you unique from your competition, and how it can be leveraged.

What IP do you actually have? What can be trademarked? What can potentially be patented? What tech developments make your business, service or product more effective? What can you build to deliver something BETTER than what’s currently out there in the market? Here’s how we did it with STRONG Pilates: 

  • Patented machinery i.e. The Rowformer. We are the sole supplier of that particular product meaning no other competition can use or distribute the equipment. 
  • Instructor Assist Technology – working with a developer to create an onscreen exercise delivery system to distribute our workouts/IP through. This tech was developed/coded and now owned by STRONG Pilates. 
  • Operational manuals and procedures to ensure financial success of each franchise i.e. pre-sale methodology, onboarding portal & pathway for new franchisees, marketing asset distribution system to ensure continuity of brand assets and STRONG instructor academy to qualify new instructors to the network. 
  • Acquiring @STRONG Instagram handle 

To echo my sentiment earlier: don’t see competition as a hindrance. See it as an opportunity.

About Author

Michael has extensive experience across the fitness industry as an entrepreneur, personal trainer and coach. With a Masters in Commerce and a background in Fitness Marketing, Michael has established several successful fitness businesses including six F45 franchises and an award winning studio in F45 Port Melbourne, as well as creating wellness brand Journey Retreats, which creates wellness getaways in Australia and Bali. In 2022, Michael was named the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Fitness in Victoria. He is a legacy ambassador for Lululemon and continues to work closely with charities such as Beyond Blue to raise funds for mental health awareness. Today, Michael is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of STRONG Pilates - a training format that fuses pilates together with strength training to create a high intensity low impact workout for all fitness levels.