When we were small: Under Armour

December 11, 2014

Kevin Plank, CEO and Founder of Under Armour, on how the company was named:

My next idea was Body Armor, and I thought that was the perfect name. Back then, it took a couple weeks for the trademark process, and by the time those two weeks had gone by, I had told everybody I was going to name my company Body Armor.

One morning, I got a call from my friend saying we would never get Body Armor, because there were some body shops up in New Jersey and some ballistic vest manufacturers all named Body Armor. I was a bit dejected, but I had lunch plans that afternoon with my oldest brother, Bill. So, I show up to pick him up, knock on the door, and he looks down at me the way only an older brother can look at a younger brother, and he asks, “How’s that company you’re working on, uhh…Under Armor?”

Whether he was just messing with his younger brother or whether he was intentional with it, it doesn’t matter at this point. I cancelled lunch, went back to grandma’s house in Georgetown, filled out the paperwork, sent it to the patent and trademark office, and three weeks later, we were clean and clear.

Oh, and the reason we added the U in Armour is that I was skeptical at the time about whether this whole Internet thing would stick. So I thought the phone number 888-4ARMOUR was much more compelling than 888-44ARMOR. I wish there was a little more science or an entire marketing study behind it, but it was that simple.

Fun story. The entire article is a great glimpse into one of my favorite companies. Looking at today’s sports apparel market, it is hard to imagine a world with just basic cotton t-shirts and gear. What Plank and Under Armour did completely disrupted the entire industry and sent athletic giants like Nike and Adidas back to the drawing board.