UNDER ARMOUR SPORTSWEAR
Soldier helped Under Armour turn Sports Tunnel to Fashion Runway, through our Brand Operating System. We started by crafting a new identity and holistic go-to-market strategy for a performance brand, previously considered for the gym and field to a performance brand that can occupy your everyday wardrobe, as true Modern American Sportswear.
UAS has been the recipient of provocative fashion and business press since the announcement this past January. Its launch set at New York Fashion Week thanks to GQ, Wall Street Journal, Business of Fashion to name a few. Their audience spectrum and customers continue to grow with the support of the new lifestyle initiative, made for the ambitious and optimized to perform as the world’s first Modern American Sportswear Brand.
Co-founded by business savant and entrepreneur Kevin Plank, Under Armour was made famous by inventing a high performing compression shirt that hit the gridiron with tremendous influence and since then, has enabled UA to reach every sport from ballet and baseball.
Under Armour has also expanded into niches that no one could have expected such as Hunting, Fishing, Mountain Sports, Golf and Dance, endorsed by some of the most talented and accomplished athletes worldwide. UA is an icon for progress, passion and invention – one that has achieved significant growth and affinity from the youth to the most revered athletes known today.
Where a new challenge presents itself, is within sales volume as we usher in Gen Z to follow their millennial fore bearers. Under Armour needs to continue to be a step ahead and poised for continual transformation. Their focus has shifted; from sport centric to an emphasis on global influence, appreciation and respect as an authentic performance brand. From a business perceived for traditional sport silos, to one with greater focus on customer needs, making athletes not only better in the gym and on the field, but in all aspects of their lives.
Going forward, UA called upon Soldier to not only conceptually, but practically help bring about another shift; from sport-centric maker of performance gear, to a 21st century lifestyle brand who understands the nuances of luxury, style and fashion sensibilities that impact today’s consumer who is both athlete and fashion enthusiast.
“Bobby and Soldier played a critical role in the concept and creation phase of UAS. Soldier’s spirt of partnership went beyond the client agency model. They truly acted as an extended member of our team to help translate our vision into a brand operating system. The group’s ability to digest, adjust, create and collaborate helped produce a tangible vision and platform that we will continue to use as we launch and continue our business.” — Ben Pruess, President Sport Fashion Under Armour
Soldier’s first brief focused on UAS’s brand identity and narrative product architecture. With over twenty sport categories, the company appeared to be only sport and performance from the outside and incomprehensible as a cool lifestyle brand. The streetwear world didn’t understand UA outside of the court and field for good reason, which left an even larger chasm between Under Armour and the upper echelon of fashion brand customers that revel in cultural cache and visionary exploitations into modern art.
Under Armour wanted to change perceptions and essentially; ‘go where they didn’t belong’, which was into fashion and lifestyle unapologetically, and marry the tenants of a performance brand with high-style and create a strategy and plan of polarity that says; “I bring performance into all areas of my life for that consumer who wants it all.”
Under Armour ultimately tapped Soldier for it’s brand-building expertise and proven confluence positioning skills as agency of record for the launch of UAS. They understood that marketing offered a route to do this without taking away from the core performance DNA of Under Armour that gave the business it’s authenticity.
We proposed that Under Armour adopt an architecture that used their market-facing credibility as the entry point for customers. UA has the capability to build head to toe uniforms to make athletes better, yet were selling it piece by piece only in the capacity of sport. What their customers needed was a cohesive relationship, rather than a series of transactions for individual products per sport category. A concept we developed turned slogan “Forged from Field and Built for Life.”
"If I'm ambitious, I want to buy a product that is modern and fashionable and performs. I don't want to to have four different outfits and configurations for the day for all my transitions... I want to buy Modern American Sportswear that does it all." — Bobby Riley, CEO Soldier
Throughout all the proprietary product technologies, patents and naming Under Armour owns, including their digital ecosystem known as Connected Fitness covering ever-expanding sport categories amongst tremendous company growth we wanted to capture it all under a singular profound ethos. This new customer-centric architecture, based on market-facing capability, was a profound move for a company the size of Under Armour – Following the UAS Operating System they suddenly had more opportunity for interaction with their global customers, beyond sport but their entire lifestyle.
What they needed next was a core idea to inspire and drive the UAS businesses forward; a set of common values that would guide decisions, allowing them to face any situation with confidence as an emergent fashion and lifestyle brand. Soldier had given them the seminal idea ‘Beyond Ambitious’, which we worked to define with a simple story that could excite and unite people towards what UAS could be. This was built on the ethos of Plank himself, who started his business from a dorm room without even a dollar to cross the Baltimore tolls, to the athletic brand Titan he is today #beyondambitious.
Having adopted an ambitious lifestyle-centric operating system, and a core idea to drive the sportswear business, UA needed to drive a new perspective in the world. We gave them a modern identity as both cooperative to the muscular heart beat logo that Under Armour wields, while incorporating a distinctive departure to liberate the spirit of the initiative.
The identity that Soldier created, used a system based around the pageantry of the folding of the American Flag that allowed Under Armour Sportswear to adapt their mood, or tone, based on the context under the moniker UAS — Under Armour Sportswear.
"Beyond Ambitious" is not a tagline, it’s a reason for being and underpins how we are building the world's first Modern American Sportswear brand.” — Ben Pruess, President Sport Fashion Under Armour
Soldier then set off towards launching the brand; from seeding influencers, to building the product line, to brainstorming how it would show up at retail and the language we would use, including venue. We did this in order to get UA leaders excited about UAS – Modern American Sportswear. We worked on product architecture, product naming, product design, digital communication, social handles, packaging for consumer products and created a very cool and understated high style version of the infamous Compression Shirt for UAS called PRIME.
With their newly created UAS Operating System, UA could confidently pitch acclaimed fashion designer Tim Coppens. Utilizing their new ability to articulate performance prowess to pitch a brand aimed at larger fashion-lifestyle customers. Tim Coppens now serves as Executive Creative Director for the UAS brand.
Where Under Armour was previously defined by what it did — Make Athletes Better, we wanted to define UAS by who it was for — The Ambitious. — Bobby Riley, CEO Soldier