Despite all the controversies over the quality and manufacture of its products, Nike is a successful brand. In the United States alone, it distributes its products to more than nineteen thousand retailers and its annual revenue exceeds twenty-five billion dollars in sales. Among its most outstanding products are sports shoes for a wide range of disciplines such as athletics, basketball, soccer, etc., as well as balls and, lately, applications for smartphones.
Nike offers sponsorships to countless clubs and athletes around the world, which makes its image something perennial on courts, clothing, media, etc. The best known of these sponsorships was the one granted to basketball player Michael Jordan, which meant the end of the ruin that Nike suffered in the 80s against its main competitor, Reebok.
It is known that in the late 50s, Philip Knight, professor and former athlete at the University of Oregon, was looking to make a name for himself in the business of distributing sports shoes, so he traveled to Japan to propose to the company Onitsuka Tiger to distribute his famous shoes for athletics in the United States through an alleged mercantile company called Blue Ribbon Sports.
By telling this to Onitsuka’s representatives, Knight was lying to them, as the aforementioned BRS did not actually exist. It was not until 1964 (when the Tiger distribution business was completed) that he legally constituted it in partnership with his former coach and friend, Professor Bill Bowerman, who not only contributed his capital but his knowledge of the sport.
Sometime later, in the late 60s, the company already had considerable income and Knight decided to change the name to Nike, which comes from the word Nike and refers to the goddess of victory in Greek mythology.
How to pronounce Nike
The word Nike is usually pronounced in two syllables “Ni-key” (naɪki/); however, in some Latin American countries, it is pronounced in a single syllable, coincidentally almost the same as the surname of its founder: “Knight”, but with the sound of the “K” at the end: “naɪk/”.
The Nike logo
Being one of the most famous symbols today on a global scale, the Nike logo is known as Swoosh, and was created by graphic designer Carolyn Davidson in 1971, at the request of Knight himself, who wanted a logo “with movement”. She was inspired by the wings of the goddess Nike, depicted in the Hellenic tradition as a winged woman who runs at high speed. After several sketches, the designer achieved what would be the definitive image of the brand.
It is said that the price of the design at that time was thirty-five dollars, although later (without knowing exactly why) Davidson was granted a diamond ring with the Nike logo and an uncertain amount of shares of the Nike Inc. corporation, today’s parent not only of this company but also of Converse, Hurley, and Umbro.
Evolution of the Nike logo
- 1971: Initially, the logo had an iconic part and a typographic part, with the word Nike in low and superimposed on the Swoosh. This would be the icing on the cake that Knight’s company lacked to finally break business relations with Onitsuka Tiger and start marketing its own products.
- 1978: It kept the Swoosh and the word Nike, only now the latter was totally high and did not overlap the former, but had been moved upwards, leaving it separated from the Swoosh by a small empty space except for the bottom line of the letter E.
- 1985: It was the same logo from 1978 only wrapped by a box that usually tended to be used in red.
- 1995: Ten years later, with the brand already positioned in the world market, the word Nike in the logo became unnecessary, so it was withdrawn and replaced by the Swoosh alone.
We have all at some point longed to have one of Nike’s shoes, even if we are not athletes, but it is not our fault; the designs and advertisements are so incredible that anyone feels like wearing a pair of Nike on their feet. Throughout history, the brand has launched some shoes that have become icons of the sport or of the time.
Nike Air Trainer 1 (1987)
The Air Trainer wasn’t the first multi-sport sneaker ever designed, but it is the first to be designed to be just as useful and comfortable at home, in the gym, and on the court. Not for nothing, the tennis player John McEnroe adopted it as his ideal shoe.
Nike Air Max 95 (1995)
The inspiration for the design of these shoes was the human body. That’s why its ergonomics and organic appearance were so special when it made its first appearance on the market. The comfort offered by these shoes was so incredible, that they quickly became a favorite of the public that year.
Nike Air Force 1 (1982)
The first basketball shoes to feature the “air cushioning system”, their appearance on the market was a historic milestone in the sport, thanks to their functionality on the court and simplicity insight.
Nike Air Max 1 (1987)
One of the most successful designs due to the necessary adaptation of the form from the functionality. The large airbag present in the sneaker forced and inspired the brand to create a design that exposed it, thus marking a before and after in the design and technology of the shoes.
Nike Air Jordan (1985)
Perhaps one of the most iconic sneakers in history, there was no one who did not want these shoes at the time of their launch and the publicity that was made was simply overwhelming. Inspired and created for the basketball player who saved the brand from bankruptcy, the Air Jordans offered innovation in terms of shape and logo design, and use of color, however, their functionality offered nothing new.
Nike Marketing Strategies
Nike is what it is today, not thanks to providence but to its studied marketing strategies.
It was only refounded as Nike in the late 60s, and coming from its creator of the University, the first target audience of the company were the students, who were sponsored with shoes and garments. This made the brand known throughout the United States almost immediately.
In the mid-80s, in a context in which Americans were already wearing sportswear to wear on a daily basis, a competition was raging. Older and more powerful brands, such as the American Rebook and the German Adidas, managed to displace Nike and plunge it into a crisis from which it began to emerge in 1985, thanks to the hiring of basketball player Michael Jordan, then unknown, but who was later recognized as the best basketball player of all time.
At this same time, Nike created its famous slogan “Just Do It”, recognized as an autonomous brand in many areas, and the famous “Air Jordan”, which sold more than one hundred million dollars in its first year of marketing.
Since always, the Air Jordan was designed to be a fashion icon instead of functional shoes for athletes, this made them become references of status and luxury. Shortly before launching them, the decision was made to double their price to position them as the “most expensive” in the market. This last-minute action had a momentous impact, breaking all sales records and setting a trend that was perpetuated for years, which meant considerable benefits for the company. In 2002, the market price of a pair of Air Jordans was $200.
Since then, and seeing that the “endorsement” gave good results, he became a sponsor of many other sports stars, such as Ronaldo (soccer) and Tiger Woods (golf), whose first contract was forty million dollars for five years with a subsequent renewal for five years more valued at one hundred million dollars.
Nike: Master of Guerrilla Marketing
In recent years, this company has proven to be a brand that knows how to create incredible Guerrilla Marketing campaigns, both on a small scale and on a large scale. Below you can see some of the best:
Audiovisual advertising: inspiring and moving influences
This brand is not only a master at creating Guerrilla Marketing campaigns, it has shown that it also perfectly dominates audiovisual advertising, with a resource of utmost importance that few have: celebrities specifically sports celebrities. The brand has given itself the task of creating great campaigns around its brand and these celebrities who are the adoration of many sports fans in the world have even managed to bring them together in unforgettable and viral campaigns.
Another important resource in Nike advertising is inspiration (it is more than demonstrated with its slogan), and in its videography inspiration is more than present.
Nike fosters the belief in ourselves that we can be better and give our best to achieve our dreams.
In addition, Nike is one of the brands that join the fight for minority rights and equality, as shown in the following campaigns:
These two main focuses in their audiovisual campaigns are constantly accompanied by elements that provide energy, motivation, dynamism, and strength.
High thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic
This global pandemic has been anything but positive for the world, however, at such a bitter time for humanity there are those who take advantage of adversity to change the scenario in their favor. This is the case of Nike, which did not miss the chance to shine in these complicated times and sold its merchandise in style thanks to technology.
In the second quarter of 2020, Nike’s digital sales increased by 82%, while at the same time representing a 10% increase in total profits, which translates into 10520 million dollars. This is how the sports giant is the number one company in its field that has obtained so many benefits thanks to the coronavirus.
“Our results this quarter continue to demonstrate Nike’s broad competitive advantage as we strengthen our position amid the disruption brought on by the pandemic,” said John Donahoe, the brand’s president and chief executive officer. “Nike is recovering faster thanks to the accelerated momentum of its brand and its digital growth, as well as our relentless focus on normalizing market supply and demand.”