The Art of Personal Branding

Posted by Hom Yoga on

As much as any yoga purist hates to admit it, yoga has become a thriving industry. One which - like any saturated commercial sector - supports the survival of the fittest.

...Or in the case of yoga - survival of the hottest... Or the sexist... Or the most photogenic?

We’ve all seen the images of Insta-yogis: beautiful, toned, flexible young devotees effortlessly turning out their pinchas on exotic beaches. Much like entertainment industry icons, these yogis have cottoned on to the fact that they, themselves, are their greatest asset.

These teachers realised early on, that they’re in the business of inspiration and aspiration.

Many of us dedicated teachers will admit to it - we’ve all stood in awe and envy of “yoga stars”, the Kinos, Briohnys, Patricks... Similarly, our students want to emulate their teaching idols: capable, strong, graceful, effortless, peaceful... or any number of yogic traits that instructors are encouraged to project.

These “yoga icons” operate like high-net-worth commodities in a competitive market. They are their own brands - and they’re maneuvering with the same ease and grace in the commercial sector, as they do on their mat.

As consumers we are buying into it: we attach hope and aspiration to brands because they represent something beyond where we are, and give us the tools to get there.

In the same way we anticipate that a certain shampoo brand gives us shinier hair, we anticipate that a workshop with Dylan Werner will give us the confidence to nail a handstand.

In the Personal Branding module of Hom Teacher Training we take students through the process of branding themselves. In an industry which is so emotional and “anti-commercial’, the realisation that teachers are, in fact, a valuable business asset can be disappointing for many young teachers. But, as studio owners and experienced freelancers know, mainstream yoga is business, and a fiercely competitive one at that. The more distinctive a teacher’s personality and teaching style, the more students they attract... and the more business they drive.

Back on the Insta-yogi trend: celeb yogis’ personal branding can seem like smoke and mirrors, with very little substance behind the persona. There is, however, a soul to the art of branding which ensures desirability and ultimately longevity...

What the most successfully branded teachers have in common, is that they embody a unique yoga philosophy. It might be a philosophy of physical strength and agility, a purist respect for yogic classicism, or embodying the spirit of a traditional school of practice. This philosophy is articulated meticulously in every image, quote, piece of clothing and studio space, as well as in their sponsors and business partners.

For ambitious individuals or studio owners, a strong exercise in branding is essential to business success. The first step is understanding and establishing your truth, your own philosophy of yoga teaching and how that translates into a realistic, unique, accessible offering that excites consumers. This is often the most difficult step, but one which demands the most investment: grounding a beautiful, cerebral philosophy in a hardcore business reality.

Communicating this philosophy and business reality is the next step, which incorporates a number of marketing specialities - target market understanding, visual design, tone of voice, communication channels and more.

For those teachers and entrepreneurs who are just starting out: a word of encouragement. Realise that whenever you step into yoga class to teach, you are embodying your own personal brand: your verbal and physical expressions, your presence, your style of teaching: they combine to create a unique experience for your students.

And, if you have even a handful of returning students - then your brand has inspired your audience... well done!

Floydd has more than 10 years experience working on global brand strategy and design. He is also a devoted yoga practitioner and teacher.

 

By Floydd Patric Wood

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Comments


  • Hi Zul, thanks for your comment.

    In my humble opinion, yoga itself is not a brand – it is a belief system. Schools of yoga segment this belief system into into understandable (marketable!) “yoga styles” – often asana-based practices (Iyengar, Anusara, Bikram, Universal, Yin etc). Within each of these schools, personalities that have arisen because they seem to embody philosophies of that school, and / or they’re really successful at marketing their philosophy.

    Suggesting that yoga could be a frontal brand is like saying that cars can be a marketed vs Mazda, Audio, Hyundi etc. It’s too large a concept to be communicated clearly and convincingly, especially to newcomer.

    Consumers are trained to look for a personality, or image to identify with – and that is the teacher. Further, I think teachers will always matter because yoga is an emotional, subtle art, built upon human experience and interpersonal interaction. The best teachers are able to awaken consciousness in their students through their own personalities and experience and this adds richness and depth to their practice and interactions.

    Self-branding is not a bad thing in yoga at all – because we have reaped multiple benefits from this. It’s also unlikely to go away in the near future as yoga gains momentum and market value.

    Hope I answered your question! :)

    Floydd Wood on
  • Nice one Floydd. But hete is question: would realising your personal brand and be successful at it contravene the Yoga brand aka Philosophy? To an extreme; a set of 26 poses which is universally practised but in multiples of two each time and suddenly global movement of Yoga emerged called Bikram. That is phenomenal self branding but i dont think i have met any yogi outside the movement thinks he all that for Yoga. So should Yoga be frontal brand and teachers dont really matter?

    Zul Ali on

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