Aug 10, 2019 | By Luke Tebbutt
Aug 28, 2017
On the pavement outside of Boom Cycle, a London spin studio, a class has just got out, and the spinners are heading back to work, but not before snapping a pic on Instagram. The photo? A picture of the chalkboard sign outside, which has the slogan ‘Bike is bae’.
Sidewalk chalkboard signage is nothing new, and normally hits its peak at this time of year when the weather is balmy. While it was traditionally used as a place to make jokes, and comment on current affairs, it’s now got a new goal= to work as an extension of the marketing strategy for fitness brands and to get more people to come into a fitness space.
Robert Rowland, co-owner of Boom Cycle explains why these boards work as an effective tool for the brand’s marketing strategy. “Boom Cycle has always had a strong brand ethos – from day one we’ve always understood why we exist and the feeling we want our riders to leave with. When you have a strong message to put out to the world you need to shout about it far and wide of course, but for the message to have a lasting impact it has to be done in a way that speaks to your congregation. It perhaps wasn’t part of the original plan back in 2010 but the use of A-boards to promote rides have proven to be a great tool to show our lighthearted nature and really brings together our community and gives them a chance to share their belonging to our tribe.”
While Boom Cycle’s chalkboards are popular in the UK, in NYC, MNDFL meditation (the new premier meditation space in the city) and Sky Ting Yoga have racked up love for its boards on Instagram too. While, Y7 yoga, the hip hop yoga studio in LA, and New York is best known on Instagram for its hip-hop lyric inspired boards, and has even painted the stairs in its studios with Drake lyrics. And bigger wellness brands like Patagonia are no stranger to chalkboard signs, using it as a business strategy to showcase sales, and key wellness in store events.
Chalkboards are a mix of smart visual merchandising for the Instagram age, and a product of the #FITSPO boom, which is about projecting an aspirational fitness lifestyle on social media. They are one of the cheapest display signs that a business can invest in ( and very cost effective for new business owners), since they retail around $50 or £30 on Amazon. While the chalkboard element feeds into the current consumer demand for nostalgia, they offer a low-key, DIY, old school charm, the antithesis to permanent, expensive, bold neon signs. Chalkboards are flexible, with one wipe you can erase a message and put up a new one, which for a business with changing messaging, new deals and offers, is ideal.
The rising popularity in these chalkboard signs also reflect how the wellness movement is evolving on Instagram. 2016 was all about consumers sharing their all-important ‘healthie’ (a gym selfie) on their social feeds, and rocking their slogan tees and hats. We saw hugely successful fitness clothing brands create collections using graphic branding that nods to varsity and #Fitspo slogans (such as Beyonce’s Ivy Park line). For 2017 and beyond, according to our WGSN Active forecast, there will be less of a focus on self promotion, and getting the perfect shot of yourself (after 17 attempts at taking the photo). And so, sidewalk chalkboards are ideal for this new wellness consumer, because they allude to the fact that you’ve been working out and focusing on #selfcare without the need for a selfie to prove it.
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