December 9, 2008
Under Armour Stretches its Brand Naming to Footwear
The news that Kevin Plank, Chairman and CEO of Under Armour, is stepping into competitive footwear is something that should make everyone in naming and branding pause, not least because it looks like the company is heading for success.
The new marketing campaign is called "Athletes Run" and will push three cross trainers: Proto Speed, Proto Power and Proto Evade.
Under Armour is grappling with an assortment of naming challenges:
- Under Armour: Can the company move into this space comfortably with a name that is clearly associated with t-shirts?
- Cross trainers: This is a heavily saturated market.
- Proto: This sounds like "prototype" which is exactly what the company wants. Customers get to be first and own a breakthrough product.
The key, I believe, is the careful management of the brand and its close association with college and pro sports.
Under Armour's campaign seems to have bested Nike's "My better is better than your better," which some people felt sounded like "trash talk."
Next year we will see the launch of the Under Armour Spectre, which will add heft to the company's efforts to conquer the 15-18 year old crowd of aspirational athletes who will actually use the shoes for sports.
Plank feels that the "heart and soul of Under Armour is authenticity" and he seems to be gambling on raw brand name recognition to take a piece out of Nike's territory.
Under Armour has depended greatly on word of mouth to promote its products and the company's excellent reputation on sports fields rather than playgrounds. This is where Nike was twenty-five years ago.
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