In Blog Post, Interview

Maryellen Torres was into branding before most people—and companies—really understood it as we do today.

With a marketing and branding background that stretches from Walt Disney to TJ Max and Front Burner Brands, Maryellen now works as the Chief Branding Offer for Fyzical Therapy and Balance Center, an emerging wellness franchise.

Northeast Color began working with Fyzical in 2019, when we began “value engineering” a number of signage elements for their nationwide Brand Refresh.

(A deeper dive into our work with Fyzical awaits you here.)

Maryellen was gracious enough to make the time to chat with us about how she uses branding to set Fyzical apart from the crowd.

Branding from the Inside Out

How do store design and branding intersect for you?

Store design unifies an array of “brand cues” and brings them to life within the physical space as people experience it.

Before a guest even talks to a staff member, they’re walking in and asking themselves “Is this the place for me? Am I getting cues?” Those are some of the questions we ourselves in our work. Above all, we want the client to understand our brand just by walking up to the location and opening the door for the first time. So, how does that feel? Additionally, can we do it in a way that is cost justifiable and it has a cost benefit analysis for all of our operators?

From a branding standpoint, if we can get people to say, “I can’t explain why, but that feels like Fyzical,” we’ve gotten to the essence of branding.

What prompted the brand refresh at Fyzical?

When I came on board we wrote something called the Brand Book, and it’s not a Style Guide. The Style Guide is the sister to the Brand Book and it defines color palettes, fonts, and the like.

The Brand Book works as a set of guardrails. If the branding is strong enough, then you know what to say “no” to. Because it’s really easy in a business to say “yes” to things. Somebody has a good idea—that’s great—but is it on brand? Is that off brand? Is it going to augment or detract from your brand? That’s where the branding statement should help you make those decisions as a corporation.

Brand Pillars & Compass Points

How do you answer those questions in the Brand Book?

We talk about our unique selling proposition, about the essence of who we are, what do we want to do. Ultimately, these points make up our North Star, which everybody can follow with clarity.

Our Brand Book defines our client profiles, where we sit in the industry, our mission, vision and core values. Above all, the big piece is “what’s our brand essence? What are our brand pillars? What do we believe in and what does that look like?”

And we put words around it so can we all agree that we want to move forward and that’s North. Because I can’t be next to every clinic owner and review what kind of decisions they have to make. But if they’re making a decision that goes against the Brand Book, then that’s probably moving us backwards.

How stringently do you enforce the minutiae?

I’m happy if we’re all moving North. Some people are moving a little bit further Northeast, and some people are moving a little further Northwest. As the brand solidifies and people see it come alive, we’ll start narrowing that into a laser focus so that we all know what North-North is.

How has the Brand Book impacted the store design?

The physical environment is where it all comes together; we’re meeting and greeting our clients and they’re experiencing our brand. As important as all the other marketing channels are, they do not offer an experience. Rather, they entice our clients to and inform them about an experience that they could have. But until they walk into the physical environment, they’re not experiencing it. That’s why this is where every detail really counts; it’s where all these encounters come to life. It’s where they connect with our cohesive experience.

The Road to Wellness

How does the character of the brand inform the style choices for Fyzical?

In our use of blue, we wanted to nod to the medical community because we are in the healthcare industry, but we’re really more on the wellness side of things.

If we were too medical, like a hospital or a doctor’s office, then, as our client’s started feeling better, they wouldn’t want to return because that reminded them of when they were sick, not when they were getting healthy. If our environment is reinvigorating and refreshing, then, as a result, they’ll want to continue on the path of wellness with us.

The focus is on making the result of the treatment a new way of living?

We want to be our client’s entry point to their health and wellness because that’s how our brand is going to survive and grow. We want to be the path forward for our client. And that means that our brand is about energy, optimism, and wellness. We want our clients to become raving fans for life—and for us to have made their lives better as a result.

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