One of the bastions of Under Armour’s brand has been successful marketing campaigns that keep the activewear company on top of its game. From taking the chance on Steph Curry to a viral marketing campaign aimed at the female market, Under Armour has been a champion of taglines, advertisements, and social media for years. Now, the company is setting the stage for another championship run with Kevin Plank at the helm of marketing in his new role as executive chairman and brand chief.
While Under Armour isn’t a rookie activewear brand — it’s got more than two decades of successful marketplace gameplay under its belt — it’s still young and agile compared to competitors such as Nike. And Plank plans to ensure it stays that way with smart, consumer-facing marketing that keeps Under Armour competitive with fresher brands hitting the market.
Kevin Plank’s New Vision for Under Armor
Plank isn’t new to Under Armour. He’s the founder and former CEO of the brand, so he’s intimately familiar with the company and Under Armour customers. That familiarity plays an important part in his new vision for Under Armour’s marketing.
Today’s consumers want to be part of a brand community. According to SproutSocial, 78% of people want to see brands support engagement among their audience. It’s not just enough for the brand to connect with its target audience; consumers want brands to connect them to other people. Companies that do a good job of this, such as Apple, Starbucks, Disney, and Ipsy, reap plentiful bottom-line rewards. Under Armour has always been among those brands, with Plank leading aggressive community building.
This new vision doesn’t turn away from that history. In fact, in an interview at the National Retail Federation conference, Plank said that Under Armour had been on a long journey to find its audience and define the needs of those consumers. Plank believes the company has accomplished that goal, and his new vision is for the brand to become a human performance company.
What Is a Human Performance Company?
According to Plank, it’s what’s going to make Under Armour stand out from the crowd and help it continue to build that brand community and loyalty. He said, “The world doesn’t need another capable apparel and footwear manufacturer; they need a dream, a hope …” It’s a long-term goal that includes partnering with athletes of every level to support them in their goals and dreams — whether that’s to win an Olympic medal or to simply enjoy spending time on a ball court during a pickup game for fitness.
Under Armour isn’t just clothing for active people. It’s driving community and support via apps and other innovations. Plank points to a few apps that the brand has assembled, saying that they bring together the top fitness and health community on the planet. The family of apps includes MapMyFitness and UA Record, both of which interface with numerous other health and activity tracking apps and technology.
Plank says the UA family of apps drives more than 70,000 downloads every day. That’s a huge community of people using Under Armour-branded technology to tap into performance solutions. Plank says the goal is to provide solutions that consumers haven’t thought of but can’t live without once they do have them.
Under Armour’s New Tagline Encouraging Human Performance
But it’s not just about creating a performance machine that drives engagement and revenue. It’s also not simply about providing performance equipment to consumers. Under Armour has always been like a coach, a fellow athlete, and a cheerleader on the field — which is what has attracted all types of athletes to the brand. Whether they’re soccer moms who take up running to keep up with their kids, or college athletes who lead their teams to championships, Under Amour’s customers feel like they’re part of a human team that matters because of the brand’s inclusion and support.
Every athlete knows that not every game, workout session, or new skill will be easy. Plank unveiled UA’s new campaign tagline in 2020, and it’s one that capitalizes on this shared truth. The new Under Armour tagline is “The Only Way Is Through.”
It’s a hard-hitting theme that has a number of genius marketing benefits going for it. First, the tagline is inspiring. It says, “Get up and do the thing because the only way to success is through this challenge.” Second, it’s inclusive. It doesn’t require a certain athletic ability or interest. Instead, it’s a call to arms for anyone who wants to move. Finally, it’s personal. The exact meaning of the slogan changes from person to person without ever reducing the Under Armour messaging.
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps is one of the spokespeople for the new campaign. He says that, for him, “The Only Way Is Through” speaks to overcoming his own challenges outside of swimming. Ski champion Lindsey Vonn, another spokesperson, says that, for her, the tagline is about overcoming physical injuries.
Bringing It All Together
When speaking about Under Armour’s commitment to its customers and community, Plank said, “Everything we do is focused on helping that customer make himself or herself better and better, of solving that performance problem.”
According to Plank, the campaign comes after at least three years of data gathering and working to understand customer needs. The goal now and for the future is to continue listening to consumers, offering innovative human performance solutions, and pushing through along with the rest of the community.
The Under Armour brand is underdog, Plank says, and he believes that this campaign digs into that even more than previous campaigns have. He and his team are looking for the slogan and marketing campaign to resonate with consumers, including those who are dealing daily with the struggles of life and looking for the motivation to push through and better themselves.
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