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How can an industrial design graduate...

How can an industrial design graduate...

By Dan Bradfield

How can an industrial design graduate...

How can an industrial design graduate with an unrelenting drive for improving our health through physical activity change the world? 

Meet Georgie Delaney. Founder of the Great Outdoor Gym Company. After completing studies in Industrial Design in Milan, Georgie recognised a problem and an opportunity. People were not active enough and for many, there were too many barriers to getting active. Fast forward, Georgie and The Great Outdoor Gym Company have worked with Rolls Royce, Adidas, Formula-E, the UN and have recently been nominated for the Earthshot award. 

Georgie was talking at a recent Norfolk Network and I was fascinated to understand more about the brand that has seen such success.

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Like all great brands, it started with an idea that very effectively met a need, in a moment of real opportunity. Free to use gyms – safe equipment, outdoors and accessible to anyone – at a time when our country was launching the London Olympics bid. Addressing a problem with inactivity, leading to health problems and causing a strain on us and our planet’s resources. 

The initial idea was innovative in itself, but it is apparent to me that the non-stop innovation has really driven the success of this brand. Success was found delivering outdoor gyms. Mission accomplished? Not quite. The activity of people using the gyms was generating energy – so what if we could harness that energy, store it and use it to power lighting or even feed it back into the grid…? Suddenly, people’s activity on this equipment could generate renewable energy. Innovation, in another moment of opportunity – sustainability and the climate emergency. 

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The brand exploded. Great Outdoor Gyms were appearing at COP21 in Paris and COP22 in Marrakech as well as collaborating with big name brands. It can be difficult to manage a brand during rapid growth, but Georgie had a strong core purpose, which evolved but didn’t stray far from the original. And instilled core values at an early stage which would separate TGOGC from later competitors. Safety standards didn’t exist – TGOGC set the standards for safety and this would become a key USP for the brand. 

For marketing, the website was key. But it was really the installations (with equipment in recognisable brand colours) that marketed themselves. The innovation drove interest from media and word spread globally. In later years, influencers – particularly in callisthenics – have really helped continue to raise the profile of the brand. 

So, what do I think makes this brand truly great? 

At the core, it had a really clear, aspirational vision – healthy people, healthy planet. With a real sense of how it achieves that, in a time of real need. 

Core values separate it from competition. Georgie early on Identified what is really important to her and people buying/using the equipment and demonstrated a commitment to those beliefs.  

Thirdly, and in my opinion most importantly, innovation. This is a brand that is always looking at ‘what’s next?’ – adapting to changing needs, attitudes and opportunities. Looking at what else it can do to realise its vision, never sitting down and feeling like mission accomplished. 

So watch this space – it may not be long before you see a Great Outdoor Gym in your local school, park or workplace.

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