When we talk about air it’s weird that the first association that we have is not our atmosphere, for example, but our shoes.
Nike air, to be more specific.
These iconic shoes were the real MVP’s of all of our childhoods, being the thing we always wanted our parents to get us and the thing that the cool kids on the block always had on their feet.
Funny how a good marketing strategy made us rethink our world entirely, almost forgetting the one thing that we can’t live without – and replacing it with the one brand that we can’t live without.
Nike did an awesome job marketing themselves, but that’s not all.
Time to go further into this shoemaking giant and understand a little bit better what makes the world of Nike turn like it does.
That’s a great question to ask, especially since soon enough will be Nike’s birthday!
Founded on January 1964, Nike is going to be 56 in this coming year, and it’s come a long way since.
Phil Knight was just another athlete in the university of Oregon when he and his coach at the time, Bill Bowerman, started on a business venture that seemed a little like a lost cause.
Selling sports shoes from the back of his car, doesn’t sound like the beginning of the status maker we know today is it?
But that’s exactly how it was.
Called originally “Blue Ribbon Sports”, Nike was basically a distributer for Japanese sport shoes.
Not manufacturing, not marketing – just one car, one athlete, and some pairs of shoes sent over the Atlantic.
Everyone has to start somewhere, and now we already know how amazing and opportunity-filled the road was ahead of the two business-enthusiast, and the Blue Ribbon Sport brand.
The 1980’s were a time of great change, globally speaking.
It was a time filled with a raging cold-war, with great music and, well, shoulder pads.
That’s one fashion disaster we can never forget.
But more than all of these, the 80’s were the rise of Nike as we know it today.
The Nike Air Force 1 series was released on 1982 – booming the basketball court of every major NBA game.
Not a lot of time later, the Nike Air Jordan’s got released as well, this time with a major professional endorsement by one of the most acclaimed basketball players of all time – Michael Jordan.
Things could not have been better for Nike, who became during this decade a status symbol all throughout the states.
You could not go anywhere without being bombarded with their shoes, apparel, clothing and even caps – all displaying joyfully the iconic “swoosh” that the company has patented just a few years before.
By getting the endorsement of professional athletes and creating a line of shoes made with specific technology to allow the best performance for their clientele Nike managed to go from a simple distributor to the giant it is today.
That is how they infiltrated the market and the street – by allowing their clients to relate to their heroes.
Air was reinvented, and it had a swoosh on it now.
Big advertisement campaigns start with a brainstorming session.
That is the time everyone can get their ideas out in the open, test them on one another, learn from their demographic’s feedback and create a strategy that will be a success.
That wasn’t the case with Nike, at least not exactly.
Being such a small business at the beginning, Knight and Bowerman couldn’t really afford a whole creative team to help them create a memorable brand, and they searched for a viable solution for themselves.
A solution that has presented itself as Carolyn Davidson.
Being a student, she did not ask for much for the assignment at hand – creating a logo that will convey the one and only thing she got to work with – speed.
Usually, when talking about branding and logo-making, you work based on a whole company’s philosophy, values and unique selling points.
Usually wasn’t the case here, and Davidson had to find a unique way to convey “speed” that will also be memorable, presentable and versatile.
I’ll say she succeeded.
Throughout the years, when big money came rolling in and Nike needed a team of professionals behind them, not just the one, Davidson passed the baton and got to enjoy her work in her day-to-day life, being surrounded by that logo everywhere she’d go.
Oh, and how much did it cost to create the most famous logo in the world?
Amazing what you could do with that amount of money; you could get a burger – or you could conquer the market with a multi-million corporation.
Choose your pick.
For this section, it may be time to start from the end result, just so we’ll be on the same page regarding this giant of a corporation.
As of 2018, Nike’s annual revenue adds up to a whooping 36,397 million dollars.
Just to put things in some perspective, the first year of operation Blue Ribbon Sports’ annual revenue added up to about 8,000 dollars in total.
That’s without cutting loses on gas – which were probably fairly high since Knight sold shoes from the back of his car.
In less then 56 years Nike has managed to up their revenue in an astronomic 454,000% (give or take, we won’t go into the pettiness of these huge numbers with you).
A lot can be discussed about Nike’s stock history, like the buyback programs of class B stocks that were originally sold in the 1980’s – but what is most intriguing about it?
Is the fact that not only they keep on growing, but the buyback rates are going up as well – managing to both grow in sales and revenue, and in stock holdings.
That is just impressive.
Technically founded on 1964, but more commonly referred to have been founded with the creation of the iconic swoosh – Nike has been around at least from 1971.
Since then a lot has happened: from taking over the basketball court and the streets with their Nike Air series to the expansion to the globalized market on 2003 with an international revenue that exceeds the U.S one.
Not only that, Nike has also joined in the ecological revolution in 2005, launching the Nike Considered line which uses Eco-friendly materials and tries to reduce waste.
Nike is a company that keeps reinventing itself to keep itself relevant in the market, going from basketball, which is super popular in the U.S, to soccer, which is super popular world-wide, or from an automobile shoe distributor to a manufacturer and developer of sport footwear technologies.
At the end of the day, what we are left with is their swoosh.
Symbolizing speed, at first, but growing rapidly into a symbol of sportsmanship and class.
Nike managed to appeal for both the casual wearer, with its unique branding and style, but also to the professional with its specialized products.
Nike has become what it is today thanks to the sheer will power of its founders, their deep connection to sports and their desire for speed.
It has become what it is thanks to well thought of marketing strategies and scandals, if necessary.
It has become what it is because Knight and Bowerman just went and did it!
It has become what it is because at the end of the day the swoosh makes us believe in its quality, and that is one thing that you can’t just ignore.
So, when will we see you rocking this swoosh next?