As a company that has changed the face of sports and style, the history of Nike, Inc. is a fascinating one. Founded in 1964 by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman, Blue Ribbon Sports, Inc. began as a small distributor of Japanese sneakers Onitsuka Tiger. It was only around the late 60s that the company decided to start its own line of sports gear and change their name to Nike.. the rest is now legend.
Nike logo history goes along with the fortune of the company. One of the most iconic logos of all time was created by a design student for 35$, and it evolved to be one of the most recognisable symbols across the world. Together with the “Just Do It” slogan, Nike’s Swoosh logo has left an indelible mark on pop culture, advertising and the world of sports. Let’s see how that happened.
Who Designed The Nike Logo?
The Nike Swoosh was designed in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student at Portland State University. The brief for the newly born Nike was simple yet challenging: create a slide (technical term for a shoe logo) that conveyed a sense of movement. The result was the Nike Swoosh, a sleek and sophisticated symbol that has stood the test of time and become one of the most recognizable logos in the world.
However, the process of getting the logo approved was not a simple one, Knight was not easy to please. Carolyn worked hard and proposed multiple designs, but none had Knight’s approval. Many of us know this is routine procedure with clients, it happened with the most famous logos in the history of design, like the MTV one. And eventually, Knight chose the Swoosh design saying “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me”, as Nike’s official story tells.
Fresh out of design school and eager for work, Davidson charged just $35 for the Swoosh design. She continued to design for the newly renamed company Nike, including advertisements, brochures, posters, and catalogues. As Nike’s growth skyrocketed, Davidson’s one-person design shop became too small to handle their advertising needs and a full-service ad agency was brought in with the agreement of both parties.
Evolution of the Swoosh Design
Building on the foundation laid by Carolyn Davidson, the Swoosh design would undergo several transformations in the years to come. As Nike continued to grow and evolve, the company realized that the simple, stylized Swoosh was not enough to convey its brand values and messaging. It was clear that the logo needed to be updated and modernized, while still maintaining its core identity.
To this end, Nike engaged several design agencies and graphic designers, who brought fresh perspectives and new ideas to the table. Over the course of several decades, the Swoosh was refined, reinterpreted, and updated, becoming the sleek, powerful symbol of performance and style that it is today. Through a combination of creative vision and technical expertise, the Swoosh has become an enduring symbol of Nike’s commitment to excellence and innovation, standing the test of time and inspiring athletes everywhere.
The "Just do it" Slogan and its role in Nike Logo History
The “Just Do It” slogan was first introduced in 1988 and has since become one of the most iconic and recognizable slogans in advertising history. It was created by Dan Wieden of legendary advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy for a Nike advertising campaign.
As with all very successful advertising stories, the Just Do it slogan started from an outrageous idea. Dan Wieden, the co-founder of the Wieden+Kennedy agency in Portland, Oregon, made a memorable pitch to Nike at the time when Nike was facing difficulties and lagging behind Reebok.
Being a native of Portland, Wieden drew on an infamous local crime and its conclusion for his pitch. In January 17, 1977, Gary Gilmore was convicted of killing two people and was set to become the first person executed in the US in nearly a decade. Gilmore was asked for his last words just before his execution. He famously replied with “Let’s do it.”
Wieden recalled in a 2015 interview in Dezeen: “’Let’s do it’. I didn’t like ‘Let’s do it’ so I just changed it to ‘Just do it’.” I went to Nike and Phil Knight said, ‘We don’t need that s—,’” “I said, ‘Just trust me on this one.’ So they trusted me and it went big pretty quickly.” Since then Wieden+Kennedy played an important role in Nike logo history. They run several campaigns for the brand, using the Just do it slogan, with an enormous impact on pop culture, setting a new standard for creativity in advertising.
Nike Logo in the 80s: the Jumpman
It’s hard to overstate the cultural impact of Michael Jordan and his iconic Jumpman logo. born in 1985 to sponsor Air Jordan 3 and owned by Nike, the Jumpman is a sleek and recognizable silhouette of the legendary basketball player. It adorns everything from Air Jordan sneakers to sportswear and its a symbol of cool for anyone who grew up idolizing Michael Jordan.
It’s worth noting that Jordan’s impact on Nike went beyond just the Jumpman logo. As a player, he was known for his skill, style, and competitive spirit, which he brought to the design process for his signature line of shoes and apparel. His vision for the brand was so strong that it eventually became its own sub-brand within Nike, with its own distinct identity and loyal following. In 2015, Jordan took his influence to the next level by opening his first exclusive Jumpman store in Chicago’s State Street, which has been followed by many more Jordan Stores all over the world. Today, the Air Jordan line is a testament to the enduring legacy of Michael Jordan and his impact on both basketball and fashion.
Nike Logo Design: the best Artwork featuring the Swoosh
With its sleek, modern and iconic design, the Nike Swoosh has become an instantly recognizable symbol of style, athleticism, and innovation. Over the many years of Nike logo history, the Swoosh has appeared on countless pieces of athletic apparel, footwear, and accessories, as well as in countless advertisements, movies, TV shows, and artworks. As a symbol of cool, athleticism, and youth culture, it inspires countless artists and designers to create work that includes it. Let’s see the best of them!