Under Armour branding assessment

Inside Under Armour

When I first started noticing people in Under Armour shirts and hoodies a few years back, the first thing I thought was, “What does the ‘X’ stand for?” Then, when someone told me it was a brand called Under Armour, my reaction was, “Okay, but isn’t that outerwear?”

Not really "under"

Company Overview & Branding Analysis

Under Armour was founded in 1996 by Kevin Plank, who had played football at the University of Maryland. Plank didn’t like how the T-shirts he wore under his football pads became drenched with sweat so he created a moisture-wicking T-shirt made of microfibers that would keep athletes cool and dry.

Plank named his company for the new high-tech undergarment which would serve as an inner layer of protection under the player’s pads. The Under Armour name perfectly captures the essence of the product.

The problem with the branding is that the company didn’t stop with that one product. Under Armour began to expand and diversify its product lineup and today the company offers a wide range of athletic and casual apparel, the large majority of which is outerwear such as shoes, hats, hoodies, polos, sunglasses and golf pants. They even sell non-apparel-related accessories like backpacks.

Under Armour grew at a rapid pace thanks to an aggressive marketing strategy which included deals to supply apparel for high school and collegiate athletic programs across America as well as endorsement deals with major professional athletes like Tom Brady, Michael Phelps and Steph Curry. The high-profile nature of these arrangements has made the Under Armour logo ubiquitous and successfully elevated the company’s brand recognition.

As for the logo itself, the simple, compact profile is clean and modern and works well in a number of applications, especially on the left breast of a shirt. The forward-facing, badge-like quality is less effective on the side of a shoe, however, because it does not integrate with the forward-momentum designs used for most footwear. Nike’s Swoosh, Adidas’ staggered stripes, and the overlapping lines used by both Reebok and Asics all function better in this regard.

shoe logos

My biggest criticism of the logo is that it looks more like a hybrid between X and H than it does U and A. Deconstructing the design gives us a few other possibilities:

Is it an X? Is it an H? To me, it looks like a ‘u’ and an ‘n’.

If the bottom part is an ‘A’, then the top part is an upside-down ‘A’, right?