Brand-Building From the Ground Up
September 22, 2015

Brand-Building From the Ground Up


It all started with a necessity – ACSM Certification needed a new brand video as an online touchpoint. Their audience had changed radically over the past decade, bringing in thousands of certified professionals at many different levels of education, from personal trainers to clinicians. With thousands of related searchers looking for content, we knew that a video component would resonate with some users who may need visual support to back up the written word, or who may gloss over text in favor of something they can more easily connect with, such as a video or photography. We knew a video, if done right, could help create an emotional connection more powerful than a mere display ad.

Ready to get your workout in?

The Gold Standard

ACSM’s reputation as the ‘gold standard’ of health fitness and sports medicine certifications has been decades in the making. As the longest-tenured certifying body, that holds rigorous standards in certification and beyond, and with a membership base dedicated to pursuing scientific knowledge and educating students, employers, and the public – it’s no mystery why they’re the gold standard.

To truly define the gold standard, we unpacked the term by talking to and surveying ACSM certified professionals about their personal take on the ‘gold standard’, and what it meant for themselves, their career, and the industry at large, when they became ACSM certified.

Many Threads, One Narrative

Now we had a pile of great stories and powerful experiences – and, even better, they came from our actual audience, so they were as authentic as you can get. We collated, compared, and contrasted the experiences based on the questions we had asked, and began to see common threads. Many professionals talked about surmounting struggles and challenges, whether it was in their own education or career, or challenges that they faced with clients, workplaces, or the public.

But on the other side of that challenge was accomplishment – the feeling they got from passing their certification exam, from joining a group of high-achieving professionals – and then later, in working to define and defeat challenges ranging from a single client to the state of public health.

And in-between? That moment of victory, of change, of personal impact – these moments, and the accomplishments that followed, were powerful parts of the stories we heard, over and over. Now that we could step back from the stories as individual experiences, and view them as a whole – the narrative was in three parts; The Struggle, The Moment of Victory, and The Accomplishment.

Keeping It Realer Than Real

We worked to craft a script and storyboard that described these emotionally-resonant moments – and worked with our videographer and photographer (JD Schuyler and Kelly Jordan) to identify local sites that would work within the context of the story, and, almost as important, make sure that each site would work within our tight timeframe and two-day shooting schedule.

At the same time, we began reaching out to actual ACSM certified professionals. We wanted our talent not to be sourced from anonymous actors, but part of the ACSM family – that, and we wanted to be sure that our scenes were true to form, true to career possibilities, and true to the narratives that we’d heard during our surveys and interviews. Plus, since the script would be utilized as a voiceover, our ‘actors’ wouldn’t have the pressure of lines and speaking on camera. (Not that I’d put it past an ACSM cert!)


Once all of our plans were in place – it was a matter of coordination, execution, and production, on both days of the shoot. And we kept our talent busy by also including a photographer on-site to shoot during all scenes. This enabled us to further build our asset library with additional authentic images, that would also have visual similarity with the video content – a win-win!

Now that we’d put in our reps, here’s the final result: