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2XU / Sportswear Apparel 2XU, Purpose and Private Equity

How to find Purpose, whilst building value of a Private Equity owned sportswear brand.

Project type

Brand Reboot


Brand strategy, Identity, TOV, Values, Culture, Experiential, Brand campaign.  

When the purchase of Australian global sportswear brand 2XU was wrapped up by private equity giant, L Catterton, the business was faced with that whammy of having to redefine its purpose whilst also future proofing value, efficiencies and revenue. A tightrope walking, chainsaw juggling challenge at the best of times, 2XU’s new leadership team also had the task of reinvigorating the brand. 

2XU’s CMO, Luke O’Shea explained the situation, “Brand in doldrums. Born from Triathlon. Hyper growth in early days. Black compression tights. Worn by A-listers, Z-listers, Kim K. Everyone walking their dog. Kanye’s Yeezee collaborated. Brand lost focus. Feels masculine. Performance driven. Elite. Aggressive, heavy product sell. No personality. Whilst we overhaul business efficiencies for growth, we need to find our ‘Why’. We need to stand for more than just black compression tights [ed].”

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What happened next kick-started a three-year business reset that has redefined the brand, rippling through every single touchpoint from Go-To-Market communications, Brand campaigns, DTC & content through to packaging, retail interiors and apparel design.

To get any brand near the zenith of purpose-led businesses such as Patagonia, or Rapha, you need to start drilling deep down into your psyche to find something consumers can identify with… and something you, as a business, can live by every day. This means going beyond the balance sheet or comfort zone and walking the talk. Which is why we’ll always start with planning… not only to better understand 2XU’s world (the challenges, opportunities, etc), but to find out first-hand what’s inside the heads of the people who are responsible for developing the vision for the business.

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“What immediately struck us was 2XU’s ambition”, says Hunter CEO, Simon Hakim, “from everyone we spoke to, we got a real sense of belief that 2XU could be a platform for change”.

“Our purpose, ‘Create a fitter, healthier world’ was born out of the fact societal exercise levels have gone down and obesity rates have gone up. Add a global pandemic (yeah, that thing) into the mix, it was blatantly clear something had to happen”.
— Luke O’Shea, CMO, 2XU

Doubling down on the purpose also opened up a whole new audience for 2XU; anyone could buy into the ambition of wanting to be fitter and healthier.

To drive the purpose and align the business internationally, we mapped out 2XU’s ambition in the culture book, ‘From here’. Part of an onboarding pack, the book was a metaphorical line in the sand, with 60+ pages of brand swagger that hammered home where 2XU had been and more importantly, where it was going.

The resulting momentum has been immense. Even though COVID impacted 2XU a little from a commercial standpoint, two years on they’ve experienced solid results with year-on-year gains. Asked about the success, Luke mulls it over… “I think this lends itself to having that really clear purpose and new brand identity. While we roll out different campaigns, they all connect back to the core purpose of change.”

Brand Reboot Lessons / Key Takeaways:

  • Positioning yourself away from the competition is always a difficult decision, but the right one. What’s different and ownable about your brand that no one else in the category can claim?
  • You won’t lose loyal fans if you take them with you on the journey. Even better, tap into your audience to find out what they like and dislike about your brand.
  • Growth can happen in many ways. One strategy is to break into new markets where you have more control over the brand. When doing this, strike the right balance between your existing wholesale retailers and a more profitable Direct-To-Consumer model.

At Hunter, we can help you with:
Brand strategy, creative strategy, creative direction, art direction, copywriting, brand naming, logo design, brand identity, graphic design, packaging design, project management, production management 
and execution.

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