After 33 years in business, Altus has taken a huge step this year to re-jigger just about everything about the company, including its image and branding – everything except its tried-and-true products.
A new look now fresh out of the oven shows vibrant colors, a new spokeswoman popular among home exercisers using DVDs, and a refocusing on who its customer should be.
“Altus was antiquated in the way its product looked, the packaging, the way it did business, … everything,” said John Hetzel, director of marketing and product development for the last year. “It harked back to the ‘70s.”
The simplest change was in its name: No more is it “Altus Athletic” but simply “Altus” with a tag line of “Be Fit, Look Fit.”
Hetzel, who was brought on to steer the re-branding effort, called the word “athletics” an old one. In addition, the company had a heavily male feel in its colors and branding. Through a series of focus groups last year, the company realized that was the wrong direction since most of these sorts of hand-held fitness accessories are bought by women.
“You have to have a product and packaging that resonates with the consumer making that buy,” he said.
Therefore, out with the dark colors, right angles and static images. In with bright and cheery ocean blues, vibrant oranges and eye-catching pinks. In addition, Cathe (www.cathe.com) was brought on as a spokeswoman and will have her own Cathe-branded line of accessories Altus will sell and she will also use on her TV shows and DVDs.
“The new Cathe brand asset is based on the Altus brand ethos of ‘Be Fit, Look Fit,” said Keith Johnson, Altus president, in a statement in early spring. “Cathe represents to her core and loyal following the same basic fitness principles of the Altus brand…. Cathe is the face of female fitness.”
Although now rolling out the changes in a press release, personal visits by Hetzel and staff around the country, and a road show to key retailers, the changes are still in progress: The website (www.altusathletic.com) won’t be finalized until early summer, and new products will launch soon after and over the coming months. Hetzel said the line will include numerous introductions into areas the company has lacked and will also include refreshes to current product. He also promised some innovative takes on some everyday gear.
This doesn’t mean its heritage will fade: The brand began with one weight-lifting belt in 1975 made by the owner of a small sporting goods store in southwestern Oklahoma who soon began selling the belt on a broader basis. That launched the Altus Athletic company.
Over the years, however, the brand had gotten a bit stale, Hetzel admitted. Now was the time for change. By summer, the company will be ready to start getting into more specialty fitness doors also, he said.
“We’re going some place,” he said, “and we have a very telling story.”