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Elite athletes love this cult massage-gun brand. Now it’s branching out to mental health

It may have investors like LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, and Patrick Mahomes, but the rebrand signals a shift to become an overall wellness company.

Elite athletes love this cult massage-gun brand. Now it’s branching out to mental health
Robin Arzón [Photo: Hyperice]
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On May 19, the brand Hyperice posted on Instagram a picture of LeBron James on the sidelines using its Hypervolt percussion massage gun on his leg. Hours later, in an incredibly close game against the Golden State Warriors to decide playoff seeding, James pulled up in front of Warriors’ star Steph Curry, and hit a 34-foot three-pointer that sealed a Lakers win.

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It’s the kind of product endorsement every brand dreams of. Of course, it was no coincidence. LeBron is a Hyperice investor, and the company signed on as the NBA’s official recovery technology partner in 2020, putting its Hypervolts on every bench in the league.

Over the last decade, Hyperice has helped lead the emerging market of recovery tech for high-performance athletes. Percussion massage guns have become a go-to tool for elite athletes to both warm up and recover, with many saying it also helps prevent injury. One of Hyperice’s first athlete relationships was with Kobe Bryant, and the company name is based on Bryant’s signature Hyperdunk Nike shoes. Since then, Hyperice has added an all-star list of athlete investors, including James, Patrick Mahomes, Naomi Osaka, Russell Westbrook, and Lindsey Vonn. Both the NBA and NFL have also invested. This week the company is launching a complete rebrand, which includes a new logo, brand campaign, and six new products, all aimed at evolving Hyperice from a sports company that focuses on primarily high-end athletes, into an overall wellness brand aiming to attract everyone from LeBron to your elderly uncle.

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“We’re at this transitional point where the addressable market for this company is everybody,” says CEO Jim Huether. “From the young athlete to the person going to their chiropractor, to the person riding their Peloton, military, medical, it’s endless.”

[Photo: Hyperice]
Vice president of marketing Andrew Samson says to make that transition, the company’s marketing can still lean on its big names, just not in the same way. “For someone like Patrick Mahomes, he’s spending an hour on the field for 17 weeks in the season, but what about the rest of the time?” says Samson. “He just became a new dad. He’s also now an aspiring golfer. It’s about how we tell stories more around overall wellness, and not just elite performance and recovery.”

In October, Hyperice raised $48 million in funding, which Huether said gave the company a $700 million valuation. Huether told Fast Company that the brand has been profitable for five years straight, and between 2017 and 2020 grew revenue by 20 times. The overall sports technology market is expected to hit almost $31 billion by 2024.

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Driving the rebrand and Hyperice’s new products are a trio of acquisitions the company made earlier this year. First was thermal technology firm RecoverX in January; then in March, the company acquired pneumatic compression tech company Normatec, giving Hyperice its compression system that helps with muscle tissue recovery, and eases tightness and soreness. And in July it acquired mental wellness and meditation tech firm Core. “It’s been a strategy for us to build this company in a way where we can address every part of the human body, and that’s what you’re seeing now,” says Huether.

One of the new products the company is rolling out is the Hyperice X, which was developed using newly acquired RecoverX’s technology and engineering expertise. Huether says it’s the world’s first portable contrast therapy device, that offers intense hot and cold muscle therapy electronically. It looks like an elaborate knee sleeve or brace, with circular nodes strategically placed around it. Its heating and cooling are all app-controlled—no liquid, no water, no ice—and users can program it for between 35 and 120 degrees. It reaches these temperatures within 30 seconds. Huether sees the potential in not only pro sports, but also physiotherapy, everyday pain management, and injury recovery.

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This company and brand transition will help Hyperice in its ongoing arms race with primary competitor Therabody, another company that started with a percussive massage therapy device, and boasts pro athlete and celebrity investors like Kevin Durant, Jay-Z, and Aaron Rodgers. While integrating the capabilities of RecoverX and Normatec significantly enhances Hyperice’s physical recovery and training products, it’s Core that represents the biggest step in the company’s expansion. The Core product is a sleek, electrocardiogram sensor-enabled, sphere-like device that users hold while meditating. It gives heart rate data while guiding them through breathing techniques using vibrations and lights.

Forrester analyst Dipanjan Chatterjee says Hyperice’s strategy makes sense, as it targets “adjacencies” to its current market, much like Gatorade’s expansion to energy chews and protein bars, or Lululemon’s acquisition of fitness startup Mirror. Hyperice is also timing it perfectly to the broader cultural conversation about the link between physical and mental health. “Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles have accentuated how inextricable the mind is from the body in the performance of these activities,” says Chatterjee. “Consumers who are looking to accomplish a physically motivated goal likely also have a need for products and services that also address that mental dimension. That’s where Hyperice can rely on Core to fill in a gap in their portfolio.”

Naomi Osaka [Photo: Hyperice]
To mark this transition, Hyperice worked with marketing and creative agency Adopt, launched in April by James’s agent Rich Paul and a trio of former Nike executives. It also worked with Stockholm Design Lab on the new logo, and R/GA Portland on its new website. Samson says that, as the company marked its first decade, they were thinking hard about what the next ten years and beyond could look like. “How do we future-proof this brand?” says Samson. “With our partners at Adopt, we took a real look at holistic brand strategy. The world has really changed in the last year, and there’s this younger cohort of consumers that are leading the charge on mental wellness.”

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JuJu Smith-Schuster [Photo: Hyperice]
The new brand campaign features both pro athletes and everyday people, with an overall message of getting the most out of life and yourself, both physically and mentally. It’s summed up in its tagline: “Do what you love, more.” The new logo features a stylized H, with the brand name going from a slanted, busy wordmark to a simple font. Samson says the H leans forward to indicate progress and forward-thinking, and the disconnected point represents how the products work to create space in the body, and the idea of frictionless movement. “We’ve paired that with a very simplified Swiss font for our wordmark, so the logo is representative of the technology, and the wordmark represents the human side,” he says.

Ultimately, it’s that human side that Hyperice executives see as the key to unlocking the company’s potential beyond the locker room. Much like how Osaka and Biles have sparked broader discussion around mental health, Samson says the goal is linking Hyperice’s relationships with elite athletes to these broader conversations, and positioning its products as a solution for everyone.

“Christian McCaffery is one of the top NFL running backs and he wears our devices when he’s home playing the piano,” says Samson. “Who’s ever seen that? No one. The ability to tell these lesser-known stories, and how our products are able to support them holistically, that allows us the opportunity to break through.”

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity.

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