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Brand Strategy Gymshark Marketing

To crack the US, Gymshark tones-up positioning with singular message: ‘We Do Gym’


By Hannah Bowler, Senior reporter

June 18, 2024 | 7 min read

As the British apparel brand plots its North American expansion, it wants to be known for one thing only: the gym.

Gymshark billboard with a girl wearing leggings

We Do Gym billboards / Gymshark

Gymshark has rolled out a fresh brand platform to tell new customers that it makes gym clothes and nothing else. Inspired by Lululemon, which owns the yoga space, and Hoka, which is synonymous with running, Gymshark is hoping to do the same for the gym.

‘We Do Gym’ is the three-word strapline Gymshark is rolling out, its website reading: “We make gym stuff. The best gym stuff. Built from the squat rack, not the running track. We’re not good at everything; we’re great at one thing. ’Cause we were born in the gym and stayed in the gym.”

Its chief brand officer, Noel Mack, sat down with The Drum to explain the thinking behind this new push. He says: “People always refer to Gymshark as a sportswear brand. I get why they’re doing that, because they group it into the nearest thing that they know, which is Nike and Adidas. But if you think about it, Gymshark isn’t involved in any sports. It’s a gym brand.”

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Mack says that people at the gym are wearing clothes made for yoga or football, but Gymshark wants to introduce the idea that you should only wear gym clothes at the gym. “So, if you’re going to wear gym clothes at the gym, then who better to come to than the brand that dedicates 100% of its time to the gym?”

There is also a cultural shift happening in the athleisure market, he says. “People are starting to stray away from the bigger brands that they’ve known forever because they are trying to do everything. This is where the likes of Hoka and On and Lululemon are winning because they’re a little bit sharper.” Mack wants to Gymshark to be “sharper” about its own brand.

“If Lululemon does yoga and Hoka does running, then what do we do? Well, we do gym.”

When coming up with the new strapline, Mack was keen to avoid using lots of “superfluous creative campaign” language. ‘We Do Gym’ gets straight to the point.

“A lot of marketers overestimate how much attention consumers give to brands. If you’ve got one second before people skip to the next TikTok or two seconds when they go past your billboard on the bus, then you’ve got to be really deliberate with what those words are.” In three words and in one second, he says, it tells people what the brand is for.

Gymshark’s American expansion is at the heart of this new push. The brand ran its first American campaign in 2022 and, a year later, opened an office in Denver. Next week, it will open its US headquarters in New York. “Having a downtown Manhattan office is putting a real stake in the ground.”

But despite Gymshark getting circa 50% of its total revenue from North America, compared with 20% in the UK, Mack says: “With the scale of America, the numbers we are doing is actually nothing.”

According to Gymshark’s own brand tracker, UK consumers list the brand third under Nike and Adidas for most well-known athleisure and fitness companies. But in the US, Mack says a lot of people haven’t heard of Gymshark, which explains the thinking then behind ‘We Do Gym’: “When we introduce ourselves to customers for the first time, we want to make sure we introduce ourselves in the right way.”

To introduce ‘We Do Gym,’ Gymshark has created out-of-home ads, social posts and video content. It has also redesigned its shopping bags, which will now show an image of kettlebells. The campaign contains a lot of insider gym knowledge: for example, images of people biting callouses on their hands.

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The brand positioning goes beyond one campaign; the ambition is that ‘We Do Gym’ will be Gymshark’s positioning for the long haul. Mack is hoping it can become Gymshark’s version of Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ strapline. ‘We Do Gym,’ he says, is also much bigger than marketing communications. It’s also an internal refocusing. Last week, potential product ideas were dismissed for not being designed with the gym in mind and Mack decided against using an influencer from the equestrian world despite them being an impressive talent.

“In a world of fast scrolling and short attention spans, we wanted to find a way to tell consumers everything they need to know about us in the shortest, most understandable way we could and I think we pulled it off.”

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