Nov 01 2019

What Cult Brand SoulCycle Did Right

Since founders Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice opened the first studio in New York in 2006, SoulCycle has taken the cycling world by the handlebars, attracting people from all over the world by word-of-mouth. Their mission – “to bring Soul to the people” – centers on creating an experience that makes working out seem more like a cardio party with friends than a strenuous fitness chore. 


How did the marketing team at SoulCycle convince millions of people around the world to convene in dark, candle-lit, boiling hot rooms with extremely loud pump-up music? For starters they presented the humdrum, stationary biking exercise as something remarkably fun. Unlike Peloton, their most recent competitor in the indoor cycling market that positions itself as a communal OR individual experience, based on a rider’s preference, SoulCycle markets itself as a group experience in which members work together with the same goal.


The SoulCycle model is about bringing its customers a holistic, meditative experience that works your mind as much as it does your body. Cult members- err, we mean enthusiasts, describe this experience as positively addicting. They’re hopped up on so much adrenaline and energy that there’s nothing left to do but tell everyone they know about it to try, with the hope of recruiting more members to their #SoulSquad. 


SoulCycle’s hook is its instructors – they have their own website features with quirky photos and unique profiles, and embrace their roles as role models for both new and current members. They play a pivotal role in the riders’ overall experiences, and leave people feeling empowered and wanting more (at a cost of $30/class) by the end of each session. 


Instead of the traditional relationship between the gym and gym-goers, SoulCycle celebrates knowing its members and is constantly encouraging this sense of community. Social media has helped make it easy for SoulCycle to spread its message of encouragement, reaching out to potential new instructors and first-time riders simultaneously, but that dynamic is strongest in the studio. When you step into one of SoulCycle’s rooms, the first thing you notice is that the bikes are merely inches apart. Yes, that makes the most economic sense for SoulCycle, but it also lends to the feeling that the riders are a true team, in it to win it together. 


When it comes down to branding, SoulCycle doesn’t hold back. On everything from social posts to merchandising, the brand’s bold, signature yellow font calls out for attention. The loud mottos like “Mind. Body. Soul.” and “Radiate Soul” are consistent in telling the story of SoulCycle and its message of strength and positivity. The trend in fitness marketing that preaches body-positive confidence has extended past ideology to tech and now fashion, and we see that with SoulCycle: its members wear their apparel in and out of the studio as a medal of honor, showing that they’re proud to be apart of this community. 


With SoulCycle, it’s not just about the workout itself, but the way it makes you feel. SoulCycle is high on our list of noteworthy fit phenomena because the way the brand speaks to its audience sparked the group fitness trend we’ve come to know so well today. 


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