How Nike’s Logo Re-defined the Power of Brand Image
Few companies have been as successful as Nike. From a small athletic apparel company, Nike has grown into a household brand that few would fail to recognize just with a single look at the company’s logo. Nike is now a brand that has a market cap of well above $100 billion, and it’s shown no sign of slowing down its phenomenal growth.
Nike’s Origins Go Back To 1964
Way back in 1964, Nike’s founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman came up with an idea to start a business selling Japanese shoes. They quickly decided that their company, then known as Blue Ribbon Sports, would need a change. They started producing their own athletic shoes and re-branded their small company from Blue Ribbon Sports to the current Nike.
Nike And the Iconic Swoosh
When Knight and Bowerman decided to change the name of their business, they decided that they needed a new logo. Knight, who then worked as a college professor at Portland State, hired a freelance artist to come up with a logo. He agreed to hire Carolyn Davidson, then a graphic design student, to come up with a logo for the small sum of $35.
Knight was not terribly impressed with the logos that Davidson came up with, but disliked the iconic swoosh the least and thought it might grow on him. While the young freelance artist only received a small payment at the time, Knight later gave her 500 shares of Nike stock. That gift is now worth several hundred thousand.
The Logo Meaning
The name Nike had significance to the company’s founders. Nike was a Greek deity who was the winged goddess of victory. The Nike logo meaning is that it symbolizes speed and action, which are necessary to victory in the field of athletics. The identification of the brand with victory was significant, as well.
Nike started out as a small company who had to compete with the big guns like Adidas and Puma. It would quickly build itself to dominate the athletic apparel industry. This real growth started in the early 1980s.
Nike made a calculated decision when it chose to sign a young basketball player who would later widely become recognized as the best of all time. That player was Michael Jordan, who would go on to win six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. Adidas first passed on Jordan, and Nike swooped in to sign him in 1984. The company gave Jordan his own brand of shoe, the Air Jordan, which became a big seller and provided big profits for Nike.
Other Marketing Stars
Jordan was by no means the only big-name athletic superstar that endorsed Nike. The athletic apparel giant also signed the likes of Tiger Woods and LeBron James, both of whom have transcended their peers in their respective sports. With Woods, Nike was able to branch out into the golf business and even started producing equipment like golf clubs and golf balls. LeBron James continues to provide a celebrity endorser who is at the top of his game.
Access to College Athletes
In addition to marketing agreements with celebrities like Jordan, James, and others, Nike also started putting on camps and providing sneakers and other athletic apparel for college programs. This puts the Nike Swoosh into the limelight to an even greater degree. Nike even has some say in the color scheme that ties colleges to the swoosh. The company no doubt plays a large part in the amateur ranks, and its advertising is second-to-none. Most college games have the Nike swoosh prominently displayed on the jerseys and shoes of the athletes.
Overall Success of The Nike Logo
The brand strategy firm Sigel + Gale recently surveyed 3,000 people in the US and the UK, and asked them to rate their most memorable brand. The largest number, 16 percent, chose Nike. The iconic swoosh logo beat out such powerhouses as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks. Even Apple’s logo, which is actually an apple with a bite out of it, was viewed as less memorable than Nike.
Nearly 20 percent of US respondents chose Nike as the most memorable brand. The number was less than 13 percent in the UK, but it was still quite impressive, as it was the third most-recognized brand in Britain. Few would have expected such success from a brand that could only afford to pay $35 for a logo back in 1972.
Today, Nike is easily one of the most-recognized brands in history. While the quality of its products no doubt has much to do with its current standing, the swoosh makes the company’s products easily recognizable and provides a great deal of positive branding.
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