Illo overhauls Strava’s in-app challenge badges with motivation in mind

To freshen up the global fitness app going into 2023, studio Illo replaces abstract designs with ungendered, “quirky” characters.

20 January 2023

Turin-based studio Illo has kicked off the year with a project for Strava, designing a new batch of challenge badges for the fitness app. Strava normally switches up this graphic element every year to “keep the community motivated,” Cristina Pasquale, creative director at illo, shares. “For 2023 they wanted to move from a very abstract and geometric style to character illustrations that would be more relatable, motivating and positive.” Illo has come up with 20 in all, plus 12 colour variations for every badge – one for each month of the year.

While motivating users is obviously a huge part of the project, we all know the feeling of rebelling against fitness when it feels forced. Illo also wanted to take some of the pressure out of exercising, staying away from high stakes or guilt trips. “Sometimes people can take sport too seriously, especially when they track their results: this time we wanted to highlight the fun part of it.” Illo’s characters are designed to be ungendered, featuring exaggerated proportions to focus on the goal of movement. Above all, the studio wanted to introduce a sense of “dynamism, challenge, energy, and commitment to the different disciplines”.

Alongside a palette that shifts according to the calendar, Illo created 12 different backgrounds and an in-app layout. The static nature of the badges within the app allowed the studio to play with tilting perspectives and compositions to suggest sports in action.

Illo explains that Strava suggested that “ideally, [the illustrations would] look exciting enough to be printed and framed above someone’s desk, so we approached this project with this idea in mind.” The popular fitness brand has been in headlines this week, with customers reporting confusion over differing price increases across the app.

GalleryIllo: Strava (Copyright © Strava, 2023)

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Illo: Strava (Copyright © Strava, 2023)

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Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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