What Nike gets right.

August Radjoe
4 min readJan 15, 2019

How a lazy logo and a tagline hides a genius in plain sight.

Think of Nike for a second. What are the first three words that come to mind? For me, it is athleticism, dedication, and freedom. I’m an Adidas boy when it comes to things, from Zeta to Ultraboost, but Nike’s branding is hard not to buy into. It gives you the ultimate story of heroism. What would otherwise be just a lazy logo and a lazy tagline, became known all around the world. It is probably the most recognized logo, despite, or rather because of its simplicity, so much so, that my closest Nike store doesn’t even use the word Nike, it just puts up a white Swoosh sign, and bam! It sells like Pancakes. This brand was not built in a night, or a fortnight, or a month, a year or even a decade. I’ll talk about the things Nike capitalized on to get the market moving — and what we can learn from them.

Emotional Branding

I want to show you this advertisement.

Now I want you to point out one instance where any Nike product was advertised. Or if the names of any of the legends were pointed out, apart from Kaepernick (and we’ll talk about him in a moment). Yet the advertisement left a big enough impact for me to remember. Due to this advert, Nike took some hit in the shares because Kaepernick, an American Football Quarterback, is a controversial figure. He initiated the U.S. national anthem protests, where athletes kneeled to show that they stand against Racism, Oppression, and Inequality — during an NFL game. About 200 athletes have shown support thus far, but this decision has always faced media backlash.

For supporting a political campaign, Nike took a hit to it’s financial worth. But it added to the fanbase.

Nike has collaborations or works with legends of the world — Micheal Jordan’s Nike Jordan, LeBron James, Durant, Travis Scott, NASA (!), Serena Williams, Kanye (I am talking Nike Air Yeezys), Neymar (Rio launch of Hypervenom was done by the legend himself) and so many more. These collabs are iconic, and a loop. It establishes a brand, then gets a collab, establishes the brand, and then gets more collabs, thus conquering fanbases. Its audience is the millennial, and Nike took a political stance that most millennials stand with, one on the liberal side of the political spectrum. It catered to the story of heroism and the brand of athleticism, which is why Nike has more athlete collabs than hip-hop collabs, like Adidas. Nike ads sometimes have no music, no product placement, but just a message. And when they do have a product, the advertisement is associated with a person who actually uses the product on-field, Puma recently got this right with Kohli’s One8 Collab+Advert, most sneaker companies like Reebok struggle with this. Nike isolates the audience, tackles a “villain” they face and shows a person overcoming that and becoming a hero. They don’t show glamour but show grit, something that is appreciated more by the masses or at least is more relatable. Whenever I see a Nike advert, my first instinct is about how I should go running right now. Redbull associates itself with extreme sports and athleticism — Air Race WP, Motorcycle Grand Prix of the Americas, Drifting WC, X-Alps — the alternative extreme sports — a rush of blood to the head. Louis Vuitton with luxury — Kanye collabs and his references. It was Versace in the 90s, and LV in the 2000s. 2010s has been more of an individual rapper label thing-with OVO,XO,GOOD music all coming out with their own brands.

So here’s a quick three-point summary.

Every Company associates itself with a brand

Nike’s brand is really cherrypicked, even during the controversy, Nike stayed clean and made sure it is against the inequality, not against the people.

Nike has unparalleled apparel design and technology

I’ll be honest, Zeta+Ultraboost is all I need for my running and training needs. — in fact my favorite running shoes are Kalenji Run One, which are worth about a thousand rupees, but I’d be dishonest if I say I don’t get swayed by Nike, the company has the quality to back up the marketing — after all Jordans, HYPEBEAST,Air and Hypervenom are some of the most hyped shoes, and worth that hype! They are aesthetically pleasing and extremely comfortable. My Roommate protected his hypervenoms like they were made of gold, shows how much he cares about them. You need quality to be a strong brand. You need innovation and dedication to the game.

Nike has a clean and flexible design scheme

Nike doesn’t complicate things. It is memorable with taglines, advert aesthetics, apparel design, and logo. Storefronts, advert outros, apparel logos-everything is branded with a simple woosh. “Just do it.” is parodied and repeated in all seriousness alike. I don’t remember Reebok’s logo without straining my memory, or cannot draw Adidas’ logo without guide (Not the three line one, they have ,multiple logos for some reason). I don’t even remember what their tagline is, but everyone knows what Nike’s tagline is.

In fact, as I’m ending this article I have a huge crush on Air Max. I need one now.

But apart from that, hope I helped.
Comment or mail me (atg271@gmail.com) if you have any queries!



August Radjoe

Now: MS CS @ Boston U / Prev: Ignite Tournaments, DeFi Alliance, Persistence, Eth India Co