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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
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The Umbrella Story

After winning the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills, Mark McCormack said about Arnold Palmer, "Instead of a mere hot commodity, he became an immortal in alligator shoes." The Palmer empire of business interests was exploding across the globe.

In 1961, as part of an overall business strategy, McCormack established Arnold Palmer Enterprises. Now that they had a name, they needed a corporate logo.

Just after APE was formed, Arnie and a group of business associates were sitting around a conference table at the Holiday Inn in Ligonier, PA.

They were attempting to brainstorm some kind of signature logo they could use on clothing, business stationary, golf clubs and so forth. In the preceding days the group had come up with a number of promising ideas ranging from crossed golf clubs to laurel leaves. But upon deeper investigation, they determined these symbols were either too commonplace to have any real meaning or they were already copyrighted by another organization. The frustration level was rising until an idea popped into Arnie's head.

"What about an umbrella?" said Arnie. Someone at the table shot back, "What kind of umbrella?' Arnie suggested a multicolored golf umbrella. A few heads bobbed in agreement. But nobody was even close to calling it a good idea, yet. Somebody told Arnie not to get his hopes up too high because it would be a miracle if Traveler's Insurance hadn't already trademarked it. Despite the odds, the group decided to have their lawyers investigate the symbol.

A few weeks later their legal team was surprised and pleased to learn that nobody worldwide had trademarked the umbrella symbol. Suddenly Arnie had his new company logo - an open golf umbrella done in four colors; red, yellow, white and green . What started as just an abstract idea would transform into one of the most recognized icons around the world. Particularly in the Asian marketplace, the APE umbrella is legendary. Arnie's fame approaches rock star status. Across every demographic you see consumers sporting the APE golf umbrella on a wide variety of fashions and retail goods.

A major reason for the logo's ubiquity and popularity is Arnold Palmer himself. Arnie always understood the importance of building and maintaining a brand. Over the past 40 years, there's rarely been a time when he hasn't been wearing some type of APE umbrella logo. Same is true for APE associates. Whenever they're at a golfing event or business function, Arnold Palmer Enterprises employees proudly display their umbrella pins.

And if you're ever feeling at a loss for not having one of the multi-colored umbrellas in your possession-don't fret. Instead, just tap Arnie or his long-time assistant Doc Giffin on the shoulder and ask for one. Arnie enjoys passing umbrella pins out to fans and Doc is known to keep a few extras in a velvet pouch in his front pocket.

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Thomas Hauser’s book “Arnold Palmer: A Personal Journey” has been re-released.

Buy the eBook for: Kindle, Nook or for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.


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