Primal Code – DM Elite

I was told to read ‘Primal Branding’ by Patrick Hanlon and it was an excellent read
His book is based off 7 key principles behind a brand
So I thought I would compile our own version for our website and prospective staff/members
So here goes…..

1. The Creation Story

As Hanlon says in his book, we all come from somewhere, and so when we started back in 2016, we had no real plan, we just thought it made more sense to have a place all of my clients could train at rather than use outdoors, hire halls etc. Beau our youngest daughter was 1 at the time, we had just moved house and we didn’t have much money at all – so looking at it practically it didn’t make ANY real sense, but we went for it anyway and trusted our gut.
Through my previous background playing football professionally and having trained as a Personal Trainer for 5 years I had developed a way of training people – challenging their individual limiting beliefs and doing it in a way that made them feel good about themselves.
There were no high-quality group training concepts that led with strength and prioritized sustainable progress above all or any other Gyms that were different from ‘the norm’ locally.  A true training program for everyday people – people that didn’t like Gyms. This gap led us to develop the DM Elite Brand/Training System.  Strength-Driven Interval Training for the masses in an environment that felt safe and promoted community and having some fun with it.
Coaching and Community (and doing it in a way where the Customer Experience is outstanding) is where we excel, and we have always attracted members of staff and clients that have aligned with these values.
We quickly developed momentum and have since grown from there.
Even as DME expands, we are committed to the underlying values that it was built on.  We believe in strength training done well, we believe in structure, we believe in growing community, not taking yourself too serious and most importantly, we believe in the trainer-to-client experience, specifically that one-on-one attention to detail.

2. The Creed

The next element in this system is the creed.  This is what one stands for and represents.  In our case, how are we are different than other fitness concepts? As mentioned above, the core of DM Elite’s brand is strength training, forming community, structure, and accountability.

Strength & Conditioning – The base of our training program
Structure – The scalability and accessibility of our training floor
Accountability – The 1:1 training experience delivered in a group setting
Community – Building friendship and common ground with like-minded gym goers
In today’s fitness market, HIIT training and at home workouts have become more popular through covid, but this had highlighted limitations and real lack of progression/boredom with this style of training. Our view is rather basic but, in a sense, a counterculture position in the micro-gym scene: we treat strength as our base and prioritize quality over quantity allowing clients to thrive as they age.  We do this through quality of movement and consistency, building core and conditioning work in there to improve heart health and achieve more ‘buy in’ for the member.
We believe in offering Cardio/Core and Strength together within our programming and building variety around compound movements. This offers a challenging-yet-accessible environment unique to each client. Within any session we can coach a member who has been with us anything from 3 days to 3 years. From a competitive Hyrox athlete to a person in their 70s looking to keep up strength/mobility.
We have high retention rates and on the whole fewer overuse injuries compared with other group fitness concepts. This speaks to the sustainable nature of our method and helps support the balanced lifestyle our core customers are chasing. People that don’t normally come to the gym are now used to coming to the gym, making friends, attending social events and are now looking forward to training with us.

3. The Icons

Hanlon’s third element of Primal Branding is the icons. We’re all familiar with our favourite brands’ logos or icons. Even sounds or smells can signal a brand or system. Whatever the icon is, it is a quick flash of meaning that communicates who you are and what you are about. In the case of DM Elite, our icon is “DM” & our red/black colour scheme.

4. The Rituals

Rituals are a repeated experience connected with a brand and the expectations associated with it. As discussed, DM Elite offers reliable structure, emphasis on accountability, and a very intentional method behind the coaching.
Our belief in structure and accountability is so core to the brand that regardless of the location, the trainer, or class time you attend, the experience will be the same.
None of this is possible without our Staff Manual, Culture Book and regular staff meeting and Quarterly Meet Ups to ensure we are all on the same page and moving towards the same targets/standards.

5. The Nonbelievers

Every belief system has a group of nonbelievers. This can be applied to politics, religion, or even the Mac vs. PC debate. As Hanlon’s book suggests, these nonbelievers help define what your brand is and is not.
In the world of group fitness, everyone is pushing the same end game. We just aim to do it better through better standards in coaching, higher standards of cleanliness and professionalism…whilst having fun along the way. It’s not about what you do/say…it’s HOW you do/say it. Our goal is to be the best for the members we aim to serve. 
Community is a buzz word and can be thrown around. A strong “culture” cannot be copied.
Although we may not be for everyone, we just may be for you.  The DM Elite client base seems to share a similar DNA. We stand against headphones, being anti-social, mirrors, having an inflated ego, dishonesty and only training people the way YOU train. Our people expect a standard, pay for a premium service and willing to pay more for BETTER. For every Premier Inn…there is a Savoy. We aim to be at the premium end, and we don’t drop standards to make things easier for ourselves.  They respect consistency and being treated the right way….and not just like another number on the gym floor. They crave structure and accountability.  They seek the one-on-one coaching our trainers are known for and don’t want to think about what to do, they outsource that on us. They value the purpose in all we do, right down to our mix between the genres on our playlists.  They want to look good, feel good, and seek progress with whatever their goal may be – improved mental/physical health, getting stronger, drop body fat or just enjoy coming to the gym. These are the people we created this experience for, and these are the people you’ll find within our walls.

often imitated…but never duplicated.”

6. The Sacred Words

Under Primal Branding, strong belief systems have a specific language or set of words that hold a special meaning for those who are part of the system. For DM Elite, our signature sessions may represent this. Crazy’s 8’s, The Nixon, Challenge Days, Hustle & Muscle, Power Hour, Build, Sweat and more.  These themes are living, breathing things that not only force a physiological output but also evoke an emotional approach and/or response from the client. They touch in a different way comparative to scientific or technical language. We also have DMRox our signature Games Events, Brunch Clubs, Funky Friday where we wear odd socks which summaries key principles of our brand – community and not taking ourselves too seriously.

7. The Leader(s)
The last component of Hanlon’s Primal Branding is the leader. Whether it’s one person or a team, brands or cultures with a strong identity have one or more people who set out against all odds to create something in the world in their vision.
7 Years ago, Aimee and I started out with a crazy idea. We were married with our daughter Beau who was 1 Year old, we didn’t have much money, but we had a dream to create something bigger than ourselves. I had been a trainer for 5 years and had created my own self-employed job where it didn’t afford me the time I wanted – it was 60–70-hour weeks and constant worry about clients cancelling/if I would have space to rent/would the weather be okay outside to train people.
Within a few months, our training floor in our Culloden space had started to creep up beyond the 30 clients we had to start, and we knew something was building. People were talking about us, our stuff was unique, and we had ambition to be the best.
Since the early days, we’ve gone from that to a well-oiled machine with an excellent team. Our systems now do not rely on certain people to do certain things. There’s balance built in across the board and members love the mix of personalities we have as coaches. This results in our brand being able to truly deliver on all levels – from world-class programming to robust operating systems that enhances our ability to run a successful business.

Hope you enjoyed the read

Let me know what you think 🙂


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