By: April Anslinger, global chief marketing officer, Self Esteem Brands


Over the course of a long career in consumer brand marketing, I’ve seen first-hand the difference a strategic brand partnership can make. (I’m proud, for example, that Head & Shoulders is still the official shampoo of Major League Baseball and the NFL.) Such partnerships can be a force multiplier: they engage new consumers with the brand, which in turn lead to sales, growth and a stronger bottom line.

Pun intended, the right partnership can be a home run – and in our case at Self Esteem Brands, alignment of purpose is essential. Let’s break down strategic partnerships from our franchising lens at Self Esteem Brands (SEB).


Today’s Brand Partnerships Start with Purpose

It’s always fun to dream big about partnerships for your brand: a celebrity, a sports team, a cause or community that we might think is a smart fit for our products or services. Throw in influencer culture, and it’s noisy out there for partnerships to really break through. So the first question matters: How does this ultimately help a franchisee?

More than ever, brand partnerships need to make immediate sense to the customer – and in our case, the franchisee too. The evaluation of a potential partnership starts with purpose and fundamentals:

  • It must add a real benefit to the customer experience, even if for a short period of time;
  • It must be a clear value-add to the franchisee and simple for them to bring to life locally;
  • It must do no harm to the brand or the franchisee; and
  • It must have a positive financial (and social) impact.

When we say that it’s our purpose at SEB to improve the self-esteem of the world, we mean it. We’re fortunate to be in a growth sector: health and wellness is rapidly growing post-pandemic, and the ideas of fitness are evolving to be less about weight scales and more about living a healthy life. More people than ever are seeking the services we offer through our franchise brands, whether fitness (Basecamp Fitness, The Bar Method and Anytime Fitness – the world’s largest fitness club brand), nutritional coaching via Stronger U, or Waxing the City’s personal care.

In turn, our choices for brand partners must be strategic and intentional. They have to do more than just generate buzz; they need to make sense, add value to the member experience, and help our franchisees grow their local businesses.



Check Your Own Backyard for Great Partners

 Keeping a pulse on changes in your industry sector – how it’s evolving as consumer demands change – can help you more quickly identify potential partners that align with what your franchise brand offers.

In our case, fitness has morphed aggressively over the 15 years, thanks in large part to mobile and streaming technologies. There are literally endless options available to help consumers on their health and wellness journeys –  mobile app content, group fitness, one-on-one coaching, personal training, endless gym and studio concepts, affordable at-home fitness equipment, outside activity and more – in ways that best fits their individual goals and lifestyles.

Indeed, this all has made the fitness industry more competitive than ever before. And that’s good, because within that competition, valuable partnerships can be found.

For Anytime Fitness, we recently teamed up with Apple Fitness+ — an award-winning fitness and wellness service designed to be welcoming to all — to offer members an unmatched digital and in-person fitness experience. (Right there is shared purpose.)

Anytime Fitness memberships now include access to a free Apple Fitness+ subscription. Prospective members who try Anytime Fitness for free can get up to 3 months of Apple Fitness+ on us. And Apple Fitness+ subscribers who join Anytime Fitness and sign up for at least a 13-month membership get the first 30 days at no charge.


Make It Easy for the Franchisee to Get on Board

This brand partnership is a force multiplier for our franchisees. Here’s how:

Every Anytime Fitness member gets a personalized plan designed by a coach, with access to training, nutrition and recovery support – anytime, anywhere. They can walk into any of our 5,500 club locations around the world. They can access their plans and coaches via the AF App.

And now – if they have an Apple account – they can access thousands of new workouts and meditations, with everything from HIIT to yoga and more, through Fitness+. And even better? Their Anytime Fitness coach can build Fitness+ content into their personalized plan.

As for Fitness+ subscribers, joining Anytime Fitness adds access to our coaches and clubs worldwide to their own fitness journeys. This is an unmatched combination of digital and physical fitness, health and wellness content and services – and it’s all there for our franchisees to maximize for growth.


The Marketing-Franchisee Halo Effect  

When a brand partnership goes to market, franchisees gain amplified visibility. By strategically positioning Anytime Fitness with the world’s largest consumer tech brand, we’ve incentivized our franchisees to engage with a whole new set of potential club members. They’re part of something meaningful worldwide, something they can bring to life in their own communities – attracting new members and driving revenues along the way.

Depending on the partnership contract, awareness for the brands is built at a high level while local marketing assets will be tailored for individual club use. It’s important for franchisees to understand the full terms and conditions for the partnership, especially those that will affect what they can and cannot do locally with respect to the partner brand.

Increased brand recognition; strengthening your value proposition; shared resources and marketing support. Strategic brand partnerships can make your franchisees and their businesses more competitive in their local markets and significantly contribute to the success and longevity of the full franchise system. In the end, starting with purpose and how the customer and franchisee benefits from the partnership will make the choice a strong one – and ideally position your brand for its own future.