When GU Energy Labs first launched about 20 years ago, the brand’s concept of energy gels for endurance athletes was seen as both revolutionary and extreme. Today, gels and chews are more widely accepted by athletes, but the brand felt it was time to revamp its branding message and update the formulas for its product.
“The brand was locked in time,” said Adam Chamberlain, GU’s vice president of marketing, who joined the company about 14 months ago after a long career at Black Diamond and Patagonia. “We want to be more meaningful and emphasize that we offer a full system of sports nutrition, including hydration, energy and recovery.”
The new branding is featured in revamped packaging which began shipping to retailers in April, and an ad campaign which is breaking in both print and online media with the tagline GU FOR IT.
“We believe this does the job of expressing our values and also creating a call to action for the athletes that use our products whatever their goals or PRs are,” Chamberlain said.
The new branding coincides with updated formulas in GU’s products. The new formulations have been in the works for more than a year and were led by Magdalena Boulet, CU’s vice president of research, development and innovation, who is an Olympic marathoner when she’s not stirring test tubes and beakers. All GU Energy Gels are now formulated without the antioxidants, vitamin C & E.
GU’s logic: “Exhaustive exercise results in an increase in oxidative stress due to the accumulation of free radicals, which can be damaging to our cells. Recent research, however, has shown our bodies naturally create a defense mechanism to the accumulation of free radicals, which in turn improves adaptation to training. Consuming vitamin C & E during exercise has been shown to block this adaptation.”
The Roctane line of ultra-endurance Energy Gels has been reformulated, replacing amino acid histidine with beta-alanine to increase production of carnosine, a muscle buffer the company says helps to maintain normal acidity within muscle.
The company has also eliminated herbs, chamomile and ginger from its gels; because the large amounts required to be efficacious would negatively impact the flavor profile of the gels.
“All GU Energy Gels are made with vegan ingredients to fuel vegan athletes,” says Chamberlain, something consumers have been requesting for a while.
GU’s product line has also been re-branded to make it clearer to athletes the purpose and scope of the nutrition line: Chomps will now be known as GU Energy Chews; Electrolyte Brew will be branded as GU Hydration Drink Mix; GU Brew Tablets will be tagged as GU Hydration Drink Tabs and Recovery Brew will be named GU Recovery Drink Mix.
“Changing the product names does two things,” say Chamberlain, “It makes it easier for athletes to understand the entirety of our line and how it fulfills their complete nutrition plan, and it diminishes any confusion about how individual products fit into our line.”
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