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The Nike Logo. Why is it as it is?

Logo de Nike, la marca deportiva más valorada.

Nike, that giant of sports, has marked us with its symbol. That simple stroke, known as the Swoosh, is synonymous with athletic excellence and avant-garde design. But how was this iconic image born?

With a logo that defies time, simple yet powerful, Nike has etched itself in the collective memory. What is the origin of this distinctive symbol?

NIKE logo history infographic

Let’s answer those questions and dive into the story behind the Nike logo, exploring how it became a global standard of sport and style.

In 1964, Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman founded Nike, originally as Blue Ribbon Sports, investing $500 each to import Japanese sneakers. Despite a modest start and a preference for German brands at the time, the company evolved into a sports giant recognized for its innovative technology and iconic Swoosh.

Historia de la marca Nike.
Nike shoes from the 1970s without the signature logo

Bowerman, a coach passionate about improving athletic performance, and Knight, an athlete with entrepreneurial vision, collaborated on sneaker design and technology. Their focus on continuous improvement and the endorsement of iconic athletes like Steve Prefontaine catapulted the brand to stardom.

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El crecimiento de la marca y el logo de Nike.

In the 1980s, despite some stumbles such as missing out on the aerobics boom, Nike reinvented itself by launching “airbag” technology and partnering with icons such as Michael Jordan. Diversification into sports such as soccer and golf and expansion into apparel and other accessories helped Nike stay relevant and grow.

Although challenges and controversies with some athletes tarnished its reputation, Nike continues to be a world leader in the sports market, with an extensive network of sponsorships and subsidiaries such as Hurley International and Converse. Its success, evidenced by its multi-billion dollar valuation and global workforce, reflects a history of innovation, adaptation and strategic vision.

El logo de nike moderno.
Modern Nike logo, without letters

The Nike logo is one of the most iconic and popular in history. The swoosh is so famous that most of the company’s recent advertisements omit the Nike name entirely and use only the logo, often alongside its “Just Do It” slogan.

Who designed the Nike logo?

Carolyn Davidson, then a graphic design student at Portland State University, created the iconic Nike Swoosh in 1971. Known for its simplicity and dynamism, this image has become one of the most recognizable logos in the world. Davidson was hired by Phil Knight, who taught accounting at the same university, to work on some design projects for his start-up company.

The original fee for this design was only $35, a modest sum reflecting the humble beginnings of what would become a global brand.

Subsequently, in recognition of his vital contribution and the monumental success of the logo, Nike compensated Davidson with a substantial amount of company stock, a very nice ring and a thank you party in 1983. This gesture was in recognition of the lasting impact of his design on Nike’s identity and success.

What is the meaning of the Nike logo?

Niké, diosa griega de la victoria.
Nike, Greek Goddess of Victory

According to Carolyn Davidson, the image represents the wing of the Greek goddess Nike or Nike, the deity of victory. Nike was thought to give strength to warriors on the battlefield.

The great thing about the Nike logo is that even if you know nothing about Greek mythology, the symbol still has the right impact. The Nike swoosh is instantly recognizable as a positive, fast and modern image.

When the deeper meaning is known, it only adds to the strength of an already powerful design.

What elements make up the Nike brand logo?

Logo de la marca Nike en color rojo.

Like many minimalist logo designs, the Nike swoosh stands the test of time. It is exciting, timeless and easy to understand. The emblem promotes drive, ambition and potential.

Nike logo design elements include:

  • Shape: A brand image that references the wing of the Greek goddess, Nike. Carolyn said she wanted to mimic Nike’s wing, although today many people see the swoosh as simply a check symbol.
  • Color: The Nike logo appears in various colors around the world. Red and white are commonly associated with Nike. Red has the most history with Nike, but today it is easy to imagine the swoosh in a range of colors.
  • Source: The Nike logo and font are not always related. Sometimes you can see the word Nike along with the graphic image, or the slogan “Just do it” on Nike assets. The text uses the Futura Bold Font, while the Nike name is always capitalized and bold, which helps emphasize the brand. The “K” in Nike is slightly slanted to make it more visible.
  • Additional logos: Nike sometimes creates separate logos for specific product lines. The Nike Skateboarding (Nike SB) brand places an “SB” below the swoosh. The Nike Air logo uses the word “Air” under the swoosh.

The evolution of the Nike logo

The Nike symbol was not always the swoosh we know today, and the company was not originally called Nike.

Logo de Nike, Blue Ribbons Sports.

In 1964, Nike was “Blue Ribbon Sports.” The logo for this company was a set of interlocking letters (BRS) with the brand name underneath. Although the logo was not the most legible on the market, it served the company well for a few good years.

Logo de Nike en la primera versión.
Nike logo in 1971

In 1971, the basic Nike swoosh was first introduced. Carolyn Davidson presented this image along with other proposals for the new Nike logo. The standard swoosh was offered along with a slightly more ornate version of the design.

This version had the word Nike written above the swoosh in lowercase lettering.

The Nike logo launched Carolyn Davidson’s career. Although the emblem has changed slightly over the years, the central Nike swoosh has remained constant throughout the decades. Nike has often experimented with adding the word Nike to the logo, along with the slogan “Just do it.”

For a considerable time, Nike used the brand name with the Swoosh to help reinforce customer recognition.

In 1978, the Nike logo looked like this:

Logotipo de Nike con el nombre de la marca.

For a time after 1985, Nike placed its logo in a red square, using white as the center color. Many people are still familiar with the red and white color of the Nike logo, although the company quickly switched back to a more simplified version of the symbol.

The company’s motive behind the color scheme was that red represented energy, passion and joy and white expressed the nobility, purity and charm of the brand. Later, the company changed the color scheme of its “Swoosh” logo to make it more elegant and classy.

Logo de Nike en color rojo y blanco.

Nowadays, Nike’s logo is more minimalist. The company prefers to use the swoosh alone rather than adding the brand name or slogan to the mix. Fortunately, the Nike brand is so well known that it’s easy to recognize the symbol without any name.

Occasionally, Nike adds stylized versions of the logo to its products. Sneakers, bags and other apparel sometimes feature the swoosh in a variety of colors. Nike consistently adds its logo to every product it makes.

What typeface does Nike use?

The typeface appears to be Futura Bold Condensed Oblique with minor tweaks. The letter K is somewhat slanted to make the text distinctive and visible. The Nike logo used the Futura bold typeface until 1995.

The company name was inside the Swoosh. One of the qualities of Futura is that it is a sans serif typeface and has traits of geometric shapes. Most graphic designers were fond of using Futura in the last century. This typeface represents values such as avant-garde and efficiency.

Where does the slogan “Just Do It?” come from?

Logo de Nike con eslogan Just Do It.

Now, whenever you think of the Nike swoosh logo, you imagine the popular Nike slogan “Just Do It”. The slogan has long been a popular advertising slogan. In fact, it was ranked among the top 5 advertising slogans of the 20th century.

But here’s the kicker. The slogan was inspired by the last words of a serial killer. Dan Wieden, who launched this slogan, reveals that the slogan was inspired by Utah killer Gary Gilmore, who was sentenced to death in 1977 for robbing and murdering two men. Gilmore allegedly said “Let’s do it” when facing execution.

need to use the Nike logo in one of your projects? If you want to download the logos in this article in PNG format, just right click on the Nike logo you want to download and select “Save Image As” to save it to your computer or cell phone.

nike move to zero



With a degree in Psychology and a passion for flamenco guitar and board games, my professional journey has deeply explored the intricate link between human behavior and marketing. Over the years, I've honed my ability to analyze and interpret market trends and consumer responses. At The Color Blog, I blend my psychological insights with my love for writing, providing unique perspectives on marketing, history, and the human interactions that shape our digital age.View Author posts

2 thoughts on “The Nike Logo. Why is it as it is?”

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