Muscular Intelligence

A world-class personal trainer and gym owner gives back.

Services
  • Brand strategy
  • Visual identity
  • Copywriting
  • Website design & development
Period

Aug–Oct 2018

View website

New York native Amir Siddiqui runs the most successful training studio in Dubai, and is one of the best-paid personal trainers in the world.

In 2018, he launched Muscular Intelligence, a company that helps personal trainers build more successful careers.

Background

Amir Siddiqui runs the most successful training studio in Dubai, and is one of the best-paid personal trainers in the world, having charged up to a thousand dollars for single training sessions.

Now, he gives back to the industry by offering professional advice and educational material to help young trainers build more successful careers. Muscular Intelligence is the umbrella under which Amir is doing this, and he’s got big plans for the company.

And that is where I come in.

Amir brings decades worth of experience from the fitness industry to the Muscular Intelligence brand, but it was still lacking something:

A visual identity to match the world-class expertise of its founder.

I made the decision to work with Jon because I knew that in order to corner the market and make this new company successful, it was necessary to invest heavily into strategy and design. I don’t regret it for a second.

— Amir Siddiqui, founder of Muscular Intelligence

Step 1: Brand strategy

When we started working together, the business model of Muscular Intelligence looked pretty different to what it is today.

Amir started this business just as he was relocating to New York and scouting locations to build a new gym there. In the meantime, he wanted to use the Muscular Intelligence brand in order to build a roster of personal training clients.

So originally, there were supposed to be two “branches” of Muscular Intelligence: one branch that sold direct-to-consumer, where Amir trained actual clients; and one business-to-business branch, focusing on professional development for other trainers.

Through the brand strategy exercises, we soon realized how much this would complicate everything: from positioning and messaging, to the visual identity, as well as the user experience of the website. Fortunately, Amir was able to rework the timeline of opening his NY training studio, and we were able to pivot towards a pure B2B model early on in the process.

Through the brand strategy exercises, we were able to figure out a positioning that made sense for Muscular Intelligence, what the messaging would look like, as well as a monetization plan that makes sense for the company’s ideal customers as well as from a profitability standpoint.

Vision, goals, and challenges

It’s impossible to create a profitable online education business without an audience.

Value needs to be offered upfront as a method of increasing top-of-the-funnel awareness and building trust with potential customers.

So, we determined that the primary strategic goal for Muscular Intelligence is to build a following of personal trainers interested in improving their craft and advancing their careers. Then, on the backend, the plan is to sell programs and coaching to those people.

The big challenge that we faced was to find the right way to communicate the unique value proposition of Muscular Intelligence.

Thus, the benchmark of success for this particular project became to craft a stellar visual identity and copywriting that speaks to Muscular Intelligence’s ideal customers and establishes the brand as a trusted authority in the industry.

Slides from the Muscular Intelligence brand strategy exercises

Step 2: Brand identity

Muscular Intelligence, and its founder, Amir, are full of paradoxes.

Amir embodies many traditional masculine attributes: authoritativeness, bluntness, discipline, independence, and stubbornness. You would expect that to translate into a very mathematical and robotic approach to health and fitness, but that is not the case.

You see, Amir has a unique point of view: it is fundamentally romantic in the philosophical sense of that word; holistic and integrated, humanistic rather than strictly rationalistic.

We needed the brand identity to synthesize these seemingly opposed perspectives in order to do the company proper justice.

Brand book for Muscular Intelligence
The logotype

The logo captures the fundamental idea behind Muscular Intelligence; it is an expression of who they are as a brand.

The symbol is simple and iconic, and represents a fingerprint—a symbol of the personal and human aspects of physiology and biology. It is combined with a wordmark which encapsulates the bold and unapologetic attitude of the brand.

Black version of the Muscular Intelligence logo

Alternate lockups and colours were created in order to accommodate different use cases and create a flexible and “living” brand, rather than something rigid and limiting.

Colored versions of the Muscular Intelligence logo
Alternate version of the Muscular Intelligence logo: a horizontal lockup
Typography

The typography of Muscular Intelligence is unique and memorable. We realized early on how important typography would be to the brand, as a majority of people’s first interactions with the brand will be through written content.

Termina was chosen as the headline typeface; it is bold, imposing, and very appropriate for the young and generally trend-aware audience that Muscular Intelligence is pursuing.

Termina specimen. Termina is a typeface with generously wide letterforms; a modern take on an early 20th century typeface called Industria

In rather stark contrast, we decided to use Adobe Caslon for all body text. It is a beautiful modern revival of an old-style serif typeface designed in the 18th century by William Caslon I, an English type designer (and gunsmith).

Its sophisticated design and high legibility in body text are some of the reasons why Adobe Caslon is used by publications such as the New Yorker, and educational institutions like the University of Virginia.

We chose Adobe Caslon because it perfectly embodies the romantic philosophy of the Muscular Intelligence brand, and because of its legacy as a typeface used by many trusted and authoritative sources of knowledge.

It’s simply the perfect counterpoint to the imposing and devil-may-care nature of Termina.

Adobe Caslon specimen. Caslon is a sophisticated serif typeface, perfect for establishing credibility and trust
Colours and Patterns

The official brand colours of Muscular Intelligence were strategically chosen in order to strike a balance between trust and masculinity—embodied by the blues and the blacks—and energy and visual interest—created by the bright yellow, orange, and red colours.

Background patterns based upon the fingerprint from the Muscular Intelligence logotype were also created. They offer a great way to create visual interest without introducing the busy-ness of traditional background photography.

In the patterns, colours can be combined so as to create a subtle tone-on-tone effect—or to add a splash of bright colour.

Example of bright background pattern; orange fingerprint on clear blue colour
Example of darker tone-on-tone background pattern used in staff photography

Step 3: Digital design (UX, UI)

Because most of the Muscular Intelligence brand exists online, the way users interact with the website was a matter of great importance for us.

We looked at the needs of the ideal customers from the brand strategy phase, and the business objectives and marketing tactics that we had determined to pursue (also during the brand strategy phase).

Those were then combined and translated into tangible features, pages, and content on the website. Once we had that, we could proceed to create the sitemap (which is essentially a bird’s-eye view of the architecture of the website) and a complete set of wireframes (these are page-level views of the site architecture).

With the wireframes done, high-fidelity page comps were created, which laid the groundwork for the copywriting and development phases of the project.

Muscular Intelligence sitemap
Muscular Intelligence wireframes
Muscular Intelligence design comps

Step 4: Copywriting for the web

As I have mentioned in previous case studies and articles, web copy is often a bottleneck in these types of projects.

Smaller studios and sole proprietors often do not have the capabilities to write content for the websites they create, and instead leave that task to their clients. This can delay project turnarounds by months, and usually makes the experience for the client worse.

That’s why I brought on a professional copywriter to help with this project. The result was very impressive. We managed to create all the web copy in less than a week, which enabled the project to move along at a much faster pace.

The web copy created by Braeden Phillips, the copywriter

Step 5: Webflow development

Once the page comps and copywriting were completed, the website was developed on Webflow. This enabled us to create a fully responsive website with high-quality, clean code in very little time. It is very easy for non-technical users to edit or add content, and the site loads in fast and is search-engine optimized.

The finished website, viewed on an iMac

I am very happy with Jon’s services. He is extremely knowledgeable, and always patient. A true professional who knows how to deliver results. Thanks so much Jon, look forward to working with you again soon!

— Amir Siddiqui, founder of Muscular Intelligence

Results

The visual identity that I created for him will help establish Muscular Intelligence as the go-to resource for professional development in the fitness industry.

We nailed the positioning and messaging of the brand.

And we launched the website—our main brand touchpoint—nearly a month before deadline.