April 15th, 2015 By Jack Morton
The Under Armour Brand House is the most recent addition to Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue retail scene (read all about it here) and our Jack Chicago team went on a field trip to check it out. We took our strategy and creative hats off and went in with a consumer mindset: intrigued and psyched to figure out what a brand house stood for and what brand experiences were in store.
Here’s what we found:
UA is in good company, sitting right next to experiential places like Eataly, The Nike Store and Burberry. This location – UA’s largest-ever retail presence with over 30,000 square feet of experience – has joined the ranks of 5 other brand houses in the U.S. and serves as part of UA’s growth strategy to use its most valuable asset (the brand) to drive better consumer experiences and more sales. The brand house concept gives us a holistic look into the entire world of UA, beyond the training gear we’ve come to expect from the 19-year-old company.
The in-store experience:
We were welcomed into UA by a 15’ X 20’ torso with giant abs donning a branded t-shirt. Walking past the giant torso, we found ourselves eye-to-waist level with the most physically fit mannequin of all time forcing us all to think the same thing: “heck I need to get myself in gear.”
Product breadth and design-wise, the store had a lot to offer. The first floor is packed with men’s and women’s apparel laid out by type and not sport, and fitness tracker app and product demos positioning UA as a lifestyle brand that goes beyond training. We could test our strength with in-store demos of high-intensity-interval-training, body weight training and jumping. Upstairs, if you’re curious enough to venture there (and can find the escalator), houses a whole slew of emerging areas from hunting, to fishing, surfing and local team affiliations. A giant block of screens is suspended above the center of the floor displaying dynamic video content like March Madness games, deep-sea fishing adventures and Gisele Bündchen going to town on a punching bag.
Overall, the store had a lot to look at and showcased surprising new products, but we were all wondering one thing: Was “brand house” just a fancy term for “new retail store”?
In this case, we think so. Even the most and least brand-savvy consumers have something common: an expectation of a great experience. A brand house has the potential to give them just that.
- Need brand ambassadors who are passionate, aligned storytellers
- Need an overarching brand experience to integrate all of the disparate brand experiences together
- Need to lead with stories about the brand (inspiring) than the products products (informative)
Under Armour is built on authenticity – always looking to create something better, and encouraging us to believe in ourselves with powerful phrases like “Protect This House®” and “I Will What I Want.” Great experiences are the best way to connect brands to the people that matter most to them. UA has one of the most inspiring stories out there, giving the brand a huge opportunity to integrate that into their customer experience even more.