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The Nike Logo. Its Secrets and History

Logo de Nike, la marca deportiva más valorada.

We all know the Nike logo. It is one of the best known sports brands in the world. It is also one of the most recognizable companies, thanks to its unique emblem.

Based on a timeless, simple and memorable logo, Nike builds an identity that is impossible to forget. So where does this incredible symbol come from?

In this article we are going to tell you a little bit about the history of the Nike company and also the history of the famous Swoosh that has made the brand one of the most recognized worldwide

Historia de la marca Nike.
Nike sneakers from the 70’s without the characteristic logo

In 1964, Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman teamed up to form a company known as Blue Ribbon Sports. From a simple handshake, they each invested $500 to import Japanese Tiger sneakers and sell them in America.

At that time, most athletes around the world preferred German shoe brands. The pair then founded Blue Ribbon Sports Inc. which would later change its name to the successful sportswear company we all know as Nike.

Nike’s success story is worth listening to for anyone interested in sportswear or how companies work. So here’s a recap for you to learn about this successful sportswear firm and how its history began.

Bill Bowerman loved running and enjoyed improving the performance of his athletes. He was a nationally recognized athletic trainer at the University of Oregon. Phil Knight was an athlete and was in Bowerman’s track and field program. He went on to earn an MBA from Stanford University.

Both Knight and Bowerman thought there was a need to improve running shoe technology. Knight went so far as to produce a paper detailing how quality Japanese-made shoes could compete with the world’s best brands of the time.

Bowerman actively developed comfortable, affordable and safe shoes to improve the performance of his athletes. Although his initial models failed, Knight’s paper helped him turn his dream into reality.

Knight pitched his ideas to several investors, but ultimately had to work alone. When he offered his ideas to his former coach, Bowerman suggested that the two team up and establish a partnership.

As Blue Ribbon Sports began to grow, it had a lot of mail order sales and its own store. Then, the founders began to realize that their future might lie in manufacturing, in addition to distribution and direct sales. So they took the first steps to create the Nike footwear manufacturing company. At the same time, they also launched the famous Nike swoosh symbol.

Two factors are believed to be critical to their eventual success. The first was that during this time, Knight and Bowerman continued to experiment with sneaker technology. At no point did they stop deliberating on how the shoes could be improved.

An athlete’s performance automatically improved when the best athletic shoe performed at its best. Thus, Bowerman and Knight were able to create a series of new designs, which athletes used in local Oregon trials.

Second, Nike’s ultimate success is attributed to the way people think of the brand today, with world-famous sports icons like Michael Jordan and Roger Federer endorsing the shoes. Nike knew its new footwear and technology needed athlete endorsement and promotion.

Early on, the company enlisted the promotion and support of Steve Prefontaine, who did wonderfully well with its shoes. With Nike shoes, Prefontaine performed exceptionally well at the 1972 Munich Olympics. He was also featured in Sports Illustrated magazine.

Nike’s ups and downs

In the 1980s, Nike went through some ups and downs. Aerobics became a mass phenomenon, and that kind of movement required specific footwear. Nike could have seized the opportunity to manufacture and sell aerobics shoes, but it missed it big time.

Fortunately, Nike had a chance to redeem itself quickly. They designed and released their latest “airbag” technology, with cool, sleek designs and transparent soles

At the same time, they introduced the time-honored “Bo Knows” commercials and cross-training shoes. The 1980s also saw the growth of the “Jordan Air” associated with Nike. Nike’s Jordan Air is one of the most popular and enduring brands in history.

Growth and expansion

El crecimiento de la marca y el logo de Nike.

In the 1990s and into the 2000s, Nike began branching out into soccer, golf, apparel and other fields of sports. Today, you can see the Nike logo everywhere from fitness technology to casual wear to workout clothes and, of course, athletic footwear.

But more recently, Nike’s image has been tarnished by its troubled athletes, such as Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods. Still, there is no doubt that the company has a global reach and its sponsorships span the world of sports.

Aside from using celebrities to attract customers, Nike has acquired many smaller companies to stay ahead of the competition and further its success. At the same time, they have sold many smaller companies to balance the books.

But for now, Hurley International and Converse are some of the major subsidiaries of the sportswear giant. There is a unique and separate range of athletic footwear for tennis, soccer and basketball players. Olympic athletes have not been left out either.

A lot of effort and some favorable decisions have helped Nike become the successful company we know today, with more than 70,000 employees worldwide. The company is valued at more than $30 billion, and its profits reach several billion dollars each year.

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

The Nike logo is one of the most iconic and popular logos 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?

The Nike logo was designed by Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student attending Portland State University, where Phil Knight, one of Nike’s founders, was an accounting professor. For her efforts, Carolyn Davidson received only $35. Despite being a simple but famous logo, the swoosh symbol has changed and evolved since its conception.

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 always 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.

do you 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

Logos are a very important part of any self-respecting brand and in many cases, they are the foundation on which the brand is built

If you want to know in depth the history behind some of the most iconic logos, don’t miss the following articles


1 thought on “The Nike Logo. Its Secrets and History”

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