When Gymshark announced plans to open a permanent retail space on Regent Street, a question immediately arose – what should (and what could) a community-first and inclusive brand look like IRL?

From drop height payment counters, to mannequins cast from real members of the Gymshark community, to free-to-access fitness classes, the whole space was designed as more than a retail location. Instead, every touch-point of the existing customer experience was  made physical, with inclusion (from racial to financial) a critical consideration. A team of knowledgeable retail employees was needed to guide people through this retail experience and Gymshark was committed to rethink its own hiring practices and assemble a team united by passions, not CVs.

A collage of photography and screengrabs. The photos are of the Gymshark community. They are smiling and gathering together. Some are in the gym, some are out on the street. Behind these images are clips from the training content we made for Gymshark, including a timeline of the brand's history, examples of athlete partnerships and a fictional group chat we made to explain the history of their sponsorship programme.

This is where we came in as a strategic and creative partner. Our brief was to help Gymshark train up the most diverse and passionate group possible, at the same time creating an educational experience that would be as engaging as the brand’s famed social content. In short, the boring powerpoints needed to be replaced by an entertaining library of original creative assets. By watching, listening or reading, the team would absorb everything they needed to know — from processes, to brand values, to product information  — in a way that would help everyone thrive.

We immersed ourselves in the brand and business: we went lifting, learned to snatch, met designers, social media editors and creators. We were also inspired by the concept of trauma-informed design: a UX philosophy, adapted from healthcare, that looks to solve a problem by considering who could be harmed at all times.

A grid of training materials interspersed with titles explaining the factors that were considered to increase accessibility and comprehension: contrast ratios, transcripts, audio description, content engagement, subtitling, layout, pacing, text size

We clued-up further on accessible design, learning modes and inclusive copywriting, and then we built out an inclusion framework: a high-level plan for how we could make as many as possible feel seen, respected and included when experiencing our creative work.

We mapped out people’s potential accessibility needs, and the ways traditional educational materials could let them down, by considering disabilities, visual and hearing impairments, mobility limitations, and varying  neuro-diverse learning styles. We helped Gymshark create representation benchmarks and offered guidance on inclusive language and depiction.

From this foundation, we assembled a mix of media formats that would enable as many types of people to retain and understand the required information. There were simple things: transcripts for our videos, legible subtitles and pacing, appropriate contrast ratios. There were harder things: pushing for on-screen talent to represent as many types of people as possible, featuring a range of accents, adopting language that would be widely accessible, and balancing all this with a desire to be unexpected and exciting.