Under Armour is a famous brand launched in 1996 by a former football player called Kevin Plank. The brand is known to embody strength, drive, and willpower. Sometimes, it can be pretty challenging for brand owners to get their business started and make it quite famous. However, Under Amour history showed that Kevin Plank could achieve this effortlessly by applying the right strategies and making the right decisions. Under Armour created ads that conveyed strong messages with the help of high-profile athletes. The brand was known to work with top influencers and Olympic athletes.
In January, there was a report that Under Armour beat Adidas to achieve the number 2 spot in the U.S. sportswear market. The question then became how Kevin Plank achieved all this when he started in the basement of his grandmother’s house. How was Plank able to outsell Adidas in 2014?
In this article, we’ll be exploring Under Armour history from the beginning so you can understand how the brand achieves success so quickly. Now that you know what this article will cover let’s take a deep dive in.
Under Armour History – How It All Started
Today, it seems like Under Armour is everywhere you look. You probably have friends who wear athletic apparel made by the brand, or maybe you’ve seen their product placements in movies. Additionally, you might even own a pair of Under Armour sneakers yourself. Today, the Under Armour company is worldwide with over 7000 employees. However, you have to wonder where the American sports company began. Although their global headquarters is in Maryland, it all began in Kevin Plank’s grandmother’s basement in Washington’s D.C.
Kevin Plank was a young football captain at the University of Maryland who noticed his tee-shirts were always completely soaked after practice. However, he noticed that the compression shorts stayed dry. Plank set out to produce moisture-wicking sports apparel to keep athletes dry and cool while exercising. After several attempts in his grandmother’s basement, Plank created Under Armour’s first t-shirt prototype. This prototype was a form-fitting garment designed from a stretchable fabric. Plank’s apparels were lightweight and kept athletes cool and dry like the compression shorts.
After creating the breathable shirts in his grandma’s basements, Plank started traveling up and down around the East Coast trying to sell the shirts. His first successful team sale was at the end of 1996 for about $17,000. This was the sign he needed that he had something good going, and it gave him even more motivation to keep up with the sales.
Under Armour Expansion
Since its 1996 startup, Under Armour has expanded into many more markets. It experienced rapid growth in 1999 when it was featured in two Warner Brothers films. The brand started offering footwear in 2006. Currently, Under Armour sponsors the NFL Combine and the University of Notre Dame. This brand provides uniform and athletic equipment for the university because of a 10-year deal between the university and the sportswear brand.
Under Armour produces breathable, versatile, and stretchy sports apparel not just for football players but all kinds of athletes and workers globally. The brand also launched sunglasses, athletic shoes, base layers, tee shirts, work boots, and compression shorts. From the array of products from this brand, it’s clear that they know what they’re doing. With their collection, you can stay covered in quality gear that’s ideal for you. However, the brand’s signature feature is moisture transport technology.
Under Armour History – Brand Logo
The Under Armour logo plays a significant role in the brand’s success. It was born from the Under Armour name, formed by accident. When Kevin Plank was first starting the business, he had an idea of calling it ‘Body Armour.’ However, his brother misheard him and assumed he said ‘Under Armour.’ The name stuck, and they designed the logo soon after using the U from ‘Under’ and A from ‘Armour’ to form a simplistic logo recognized around the world today.
Combined, the two elements of the logo form a unique-looking crisscross that you can easily recognize. It is also aesthetically appealing enough to be the central design of all Under Armour clothing. The custom typeface that comes with the logo is also specifically designed for the company. This typeface combines both sharp points and smooth edges to convey that while the clothing is comfortable, it can also be challenging and aggressive.
The popularity of the Under Armour Logo
The company owes most of its initial success to how recognizable its logo is. The first year before the brand landed significant contracts, the Oakland Raider quarterback Jeff George appeared on USA Today’s cover wearing a turtleneck with the Under Armour logo. After this boost in media attention, different teams across the country took notice. Within a short while, Plank took orders for several football teams because of the logo’s popularity.
The logo remains one of the driving forces behind sales throughout Under Armour history. Although most of the marketing focuses on the functionality of the clothing, fashion and aesthetic appeal are usually key factors in the clothing industry. In almost all Under Armour clothing designs, their logo is a crucial design feature you can always find
Additionally, Under Armour attaches meaning to its logo. Kevin Plank says the Under Armour logo symbolizes strength, speed, and athleticism. People want to wear apparels that feature the Under Armour logo because it reflects a message about their interests in their lifestyle. With the brand attaching a positive connotation to the logo, the company is able to create apparels that immediately leave the shelf, even if the logo is the only design feature setting them apart. In many ways, Under Armour has one of the buffest success stories of a logo’s impact. The logo helped put the brand on the map in many ways.
Under Armours Marketing Mix
We cannot explore the Under Armour history case study from the beginning without mentioning the company’s marketing mix. This mix helped the brand succeed and position them competitively in the market; let’s take a look. In this section, we’ll explore their product innovation, promotion planning, pricing, and many more.
Under Armour is the top sports apparel in the sportswear industry, and its customers are scattered worldwide. Under Armour produces products for all age groups and has product lines of all gender. It also covers clothing for newborns to above eight years of age. You can divide the brand’s apparel line into AllSeasonGear, HeatGear, and ColdGear. HeatGear has moisture-wicking properties, and you can wear it when the weather is scorching.
On the other hand, ColdGear is for cold weather and helps to keep you warm. AllSeasonGear is for the rest of the year when it’s neither too cold nor hot. The brand can achieve this because of its high technology fabrics.
Under Armour uses microfibers to keep the body cool, warm, dry, or stable depending on consumers’ needs. The company also produces shoes for specialized sports and activities like training, running, hiking, gold, boots, sandals, and more. Other accessories that Under Armour offers are fitness devices, sunglasses, protective gear, backpacks, caps, bags, and sports equipment. All this is a part of the company’s marketing mix to reach a wide range of audiences.
Throughout Under Armour’s history, the brand utilized value-based pricing for its products. They are known for offering advanced quality, and the price reflects this. Although many well-established brands are Under Armour’s competitors, the brand still charges a little extra than them for its products. This is based on the superior, innovative materials and fabrics used during manufacturing. The brand’s target audience is primarily players and athletic people. These people focus more on the functionality of fabric technology and the quality offered over the product’s design or price.
Most people associate Under Armour with excellence and value. This is why Under Armour can price their product slightly higher than the industry’s average. The pricing structure is part of its strategy, making it the market leader in this category. Based on its market position and pricing structure, the brand’s pricing structure is quite similar to top brands like Reebok and Nike.
The Placing and Distribution Strategy
Under Armour ensures its products reach the last mile customers, and it achieves this by combining two distribution channels. Thus, Under Armour runs a hybrid distribution channel. This hybrid channel consists of both direct and indirect channels. The direct channel is through the company’s stores and its shopping website. This website facilitates shipping to over 200 countries scattered across North America, Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and even Latin America. The website also offers a vast collection of products.
On the other hand, you could categorize the retail store into the Brand house and the Factory house. The brand house only offers the best designs and pieces, while the factory house features all the signature products. The company also possesses an international presence in Canada, China, the U.K., and many more countries. It is also trying to expand its global footprint even further since there are far better growth opportunities in emerging economies than in America. Worldwide, the company boasts of more than 15,000 employees serving their customers.
Promotion and Advertising Strategy
Unlike most of its competitors, Under Armour doesn’t outsource marketing to other agencies. Instead, the company strives to keep it all in-house. Its promotional mix consists of personal selling touchpoints by salespersons, billboards scattered around famous routes, Youtube, T.V. advertising, social media campaigns, sponsorships, and many more. The brand is also renowned for product placements in movies.
Additionally, the brand has sponsored many popular campaigns like the I WILL campaign, where athletes from different backgrounds, genders, and races were seen wining at their games. Another popular campaign was the ‘Basketball matters; community matters more’ campaign on social media. In this campaign, Under Armour helped develop local basketball courts so that kids could play. These campaigns did work to increase sales and acted as positive publicity for the brand. This brand also indulges in sales promotion by offering coupons and discounts to consumers. On the website, you could also enjoy free shipping once your orders are above $60. There are also many promo codes buyers can find online, and all this is aimed at increasing online sales.
Although this brand started as a 23-year-old football player’s dream, it is now one of the leading sportswear brands with top industry giants like Adidas and Nike as its competitors. This company caters to the needs of sportswear and, over the years, expanded into casual wear and shoes. The brand is well recognized and trusted in the sports community.
This article examines Under Armour history from the beginning to give you insight into the brand’s success. The marketing mix also helps you understand how the brand could achieve so much in such a little time. By examining Under Armour’s history, we learn that we can start humbly and win big in any niche category.