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  • Writer's pictureDaniela Lopez

Gymshark – Your Fearless Gym Partner

Where to start? 

I think that is a common question we often ask ourselves when starting a new project, a new adventure, or anything new that may feel uncertain. I believe it is also something that can stop us from starting and it often blocks us from what’s beyond uncertainty.  

Let me show you what’s beyond…

Ben Francis, co-founder, and CEO of Gymshark, started and went beyond his wildest dreams by creating a billion-dollar brand that is now praised by so many people around the world. The brand has taken the world by a storm through its strong message, its powerful community, its creativeness and innovativeness. 

The story behind the success of this brand is truly inspiring and I hope it will impact you as much as it impacted me. Maybe it will spark a light inside you that will make you start whatever has been lingering in the back of your mind. 

An Idea  

Ben Francis started the brand at 19 years old in his parents' dining room. It all started with the desire to make clothes for the gym that he and his friends wanted to wear but couldn’t find anywhere else. 

After visiting the Body Power expo, they noticed that there was a huge potential to bring this product to other weightlifters. They identified an untapped niche market and bought an expo stand for the following year. Ben Francis invested all his savings from delivering pizzas in a sewing machine and a screen printer. At the beginning, each garment was custom made for the Gymshark customers with hours of dedication and hard work to make the vision come to life. 

In interviews Ben Francis talks about how he and his friends used to constantly watch YouTube videos of fitness enthusiasts. Since they were fans of these athletes, they decided to send them a sample of their product in 2013, starting influencer marketing before it was even an established strategy!

They got feedback on the product and got their first Gymshark partner. Lex started showcasing the brand in his YouTube videos and encouraging viewers to use this new athletic gear. The company started partnering with more and more fitness influencers and created a family of brand ambassadors. They did not pick influencers with the most followers and still stay true to the value of selecting people who embody the Gymshark mindset. 

They have been very successful and have now opened their  first store in London with a second location on the way. The brand keeps getting involved with the conditioning community and offers new products to help athletes reach new goals. In 2020 the brand was valued at 1.45 billion dollars and they keep on finding the Gymshark way towards more success. 

An Identity 

A big part of their success is their brand identity. It impacts everything in the business, from product to place of distribution and especially in communications with customers. 

During one of my marketing courses, the professor asked the class what brand they would have over for dinner. It is a silly question, but it really illustrates the importance of your brand identity and its impact on consumers. And as you probably guessed it, Gymshark is on my list. 

What I love the most about this brand is not only their incredible clothing, but it’s the message behind every collection and every idea. The idea that wearing these clothes gives you power to keep reaching personal records and go far beyond your expectations. It understands that weightlifters want to feel confident while working out and their product is the perfect blend of fashion and utility. 

Yes, they sell a product, but they make it their mission to create a product and an experience that will play a part in achieving your goals. 

In branding, I think it’s really important to highlight why people should choose you and it is essential to justify the prices you are charging. For any brand to be successful, it needs to have a clear brand identity and a strong message. 

Gymshark knows what it is about. The brand identity is clear and strong, and it attracts so many athletes that resonate with these values. Their positioning in the market reflects what they stand for, and they can differentiate themselves from competitors by investing so much in their core message and in the community aspect. If you are part of Gymshark, you become part of the family. 

Doesn’t this make you want to be part of this community? 

A Community 

The brand invested in building a community of like-minded people and athletes of all walks of life and they constantly make efforts to connect with each fan of the brand. 

It is heart-warming to see how many fans unite to greet the faces behind Gymshark and share stories about their different journeys. In one of their world tours, you can feel the emotion behind every conversation and every smile. They all stand together united by the shared passion of preparing for tomorrow, for giving your all and finding the Gymshark way. 

I remember one day when I was going to class after Phys-Ed, I was wearing Gymshark apparel, and two other people were wearing it as well. It’s as if it was a secret handshake that made us notice we all had something in common and were part of the same movement. 

Feeling like you are part of something bigger than just a purchase, makes you more loyal to the brand, because you are not only buying those shorts, but you are also buying into the mindset and lifestyle. 

You can see this through the several events they plan that involve sharing with the community. Recently, they had the lift event in Miami where people gathered to participate in workshops with athletes and get access to special merch. It’s fascinating to see some videos where people are gathered around each other and encourage strangers to keep pushing and hit PRs under the sun. All smiles and cheers for people who were not strangers after all, people with whom you can connect just based on that shared handshake, that shared mindset and vision that there is always more to give. 

Through events such as Lift Miami, world tours, events at their retail store or the Gymshark 66 challenge, they strengthen the connection they have with the community of athletes around the world. They create value for the community through motivational content, informational content such as blogs or just supporting them through workout routines in their app. Everything is aligned with their values of putting family first and they make sure to share this with their audience.  

A Message 

A message about community events, about workout plans, about new products and styles needs to be communicated effectively to make an impact. This is something that Gymshark is really good at, and that deserves a moment of appreciation. 

With Ben Francis’ background in IT, their whole business started fully digitally based, and their digital marketing strategies continue to set them apart from competitors and reach new heights. 

The creative execution and messaging behind every post is consistent with who they are. Their content is relatable and is shared in a creative and funny way that resonates with every fitness conditioning enthusiast. They know who their audience is and what they like, and they make sure to always deliver and connect with them. 

If you visit their social media platforms, you can see a lot of motivational posts, aesthetic posts with fitness influencers wearing the latest Gymshark product and creative ways of adding humour to holidays such as Valentine’s Day and showcasing their sales. 

The brand makes sure to keep their perceived value high by focusing on two main sales: Black Friday and the brand’s birthday. Their campaigns focus on scarcity and creating a sense of urgency. They advertise this event well in advance to prepare its customers for the biggest sale of the year. To illustrate what I mean by how they keep their messaging consistent and authentic I briefly touch on two creative executions that made me laugh and made me want to add items to my wishlist before the sale happened. 

For the Black Friday sale of 2024, they used different media tools such as billboards, social media, and even newspapers. Each execution had humor and love for the gym at its core .One of my favorite executions was the idea of creating fake parking tickets and placing them on windshields of cars parked at different gyms. They filmed people getting mad for getting a ticket and then realizing that inside there was a voucher for the Gymshark sale. Pretty funny execution. They also paid for fake wedding announcements in newspapers to announce the wedding of Jim shark and Blac Fryday. Wouldn’t want to miss that wedding! 

There are a ton of campaigns that deserve recognition and I suggest you look at what they’ve done if you are looking for inspiration.

Their social media goes beyond pushing the product to consumers. They showcase who they are in a way that feels so subtle and so authentic. They are pulling you in, so you become part of the family.

A Lesson

Being part of a family and of a community as big as Gymshark impacts a lot of people around the world. The brand constantly motivates fitness enthusiasts by allowing them to buy into this lifestyle of pushing for more and looking for what’s beyond uncertainty. The community they have built contributes greatly to its success and it is a great example to learn from.

When starting your own branding adventures, keep in mind that people are willing to buy more than just the product, they are willing to buy into the mindset, the lifestyle and the community you create. What makes gymshark stand out is the meaning behind their clothing and how it creates change in your life. A great way to differentiate yourself from competitors is to promise something different and deliver on that promise. Be sure to stay authentic and align your strategies with who you are, there is always someone out there who will resonate with what you believe in, communicate it to the world and build a community of people who share that same mindset. Don’t be afraid to explore beyond your wildest dreams! 

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