Last Updated on August 17, 2023
Nike, Inc. is an American multinational corporation that deals in the design, manufacture, and sale of footwear and apparel. The company also offers equipment accessories and other fashion-related services.
Nike was founded on January 25, 1964, by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. It was formerly known as Blue Ribbon Sports, Inc., before changing its name to Nike in 1971.
Although currently headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, Nike’s products are available worldwide. In fact, Nike is the world’s largest distributor of athletic shoes and related apparel.
Nike is also noted for its iconic logo, and this post highlights everything there is to know about the brand’s graphic image.
Nike Logo’s Appearance
The Swoosh has become one of the world’s most recognizable brand logos. It’s also the most valuable brand logo in the world, with a current valuation of $26 billion.
But as you shall find, the Swoosh traces its roots from fairly humble beginnings. At some point, Nike founders almost rejected this logo citing its sheer simplicity and lack of inspiration.
That the Swoosh eventually became the world’s most valuable logo only goes to show that successful stories don’t need to spring from dramatic beginnings.
The Nike Swoosh is designed to mimic a wing of the audacious mythical Greek goddess of victory, also known as Nike or Victoria. So, there’s a high likelihood that the designer had the image of a wing in mind while developing the logo.
Victoria is depicted in Greek mythology as the divinely-gifted charioteer who flies gracefully over battlefields to bestow glory on the victors. She was born to God Titan Pallas and Goddess Styx.
Another exciting fact about Nike’s logo shape is that the Swoosh was developed using two curved lines.
The Nike Swoosh has appeared in multiple colors over the years. Today, the graphic image mainly appears in a strong black color.
Nike’s logo design and the font aren’t always related. That’s because the graphic image nowadays appears as a standalone design, with no accompanying word mark or logotype. However, you may occasionally spot the company’s name “Nike” or its tagline “Just Do It” along with the design.
The text used for Nike’s word mark and tagline is known as Futura Condensed Extra Bold. Futura Condensed Extra Bold is a condensed extra bold variation in the Futura font family.
Futura is a geometric sans-serif typeface designed by Paul Renner, with later inputs from Edwin W. Shaar and Tommy Thompson. The font was first released in 1927 and was developed as part of Renner’s contribution to the New Frankfurt-project.
Although initially designed by Paul Renner, Futura was fully developed into an official typeface by the Bauer Type Foundry. It was later reissued by the Intertype Corporation.
Also note that when the word “Nike” appears alongside the Swoosh, the word mark is usually bold and set in CAPITAL letters.
Nike Logo Symbolism
Not many logos are designed in the shape of mythical characters. Even fewer emblems take inspiration from Greek mythology. Therefore, the Swoosh’s designer probably reckoned that developing the logo after the Greek goddess of victory would help the design stir conversation throughout its existence.
And going by the Swoosh’s popularity, it’s logical to infer that the designer’s original intentions have been largely achieved. By borrowing the shape and other design features from mythical, historical, and cultural sources, Nike has succeeded in engaging its clients and prospective customers with its iconic logo.
Interestingly, Nike’s earlier logo was known as “the strip.” However, the logo was later called “Swoosh” as a description of the fibers Nike used for its shoes.
The utilization of two curved lines symbolizes motion and speed. In fact, ‘swoosh’ is pretty much the sound that we hear when something zaps past us in full speed. The adoption of this name and its graphic image shows that Nike is always moving with speed to fulfill its clients’ needs.
When you view the Swoosh up-close, you’ll realize that the right ascending stroke extends considerably to denote a tick mark. This indicates success or perfection.
The choice of the Swoosh logo might also signify victory. According to Greeks, their battle cry is ‘Nike’ and the Swoosh sign indicates that a battle has been won.
Lastly, as we’ve pointed out, the Swoosh can sometimes appear alongside Nike’s word mark and tag line. Each of these two additional elements serve various purposes. Obviously, the word mark is usually added to help emphasize the brand.
The “Nike” name also appears in bold and set in ALL-CAPS. Plus, the letter “K” is normally slightly slanted. All these features further help to enhance the brand’s visibility. And did you know the origin behind the tagline “Just Do It?”
The slogan was inspired by the famous last words of Utah Serial Killer, Gary Gilmore. Gilmore was sentenced to death in 1977 for robbery and murder. Right before his execution, the serial killer allegedly said “let’s do it.”
Nike Logo History
Nike adopted the Swoosh as its official logo in 1971, after the company changed its name from Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) to Nike, Inc. The Swoosh was created by Carolyn Davidson.
Davidson was a student at Portland State University at a time when one of Nike’s co-founders, Phil Knight, taught at the institution. She had been approached by Knight and asked to create a logo inspired by the Adidas brand and one that signified motion.
Davidson designed several proposals, all of which were rejected. Even the Swoosh itself was almost declined. Part of the reason Knight accepted the design is that he was already pressed for time after rejecting numerous suggestions.
Davidson was paid $35 for creating the logo, which is one of the highest payments for logo designs after adjusting for inflation.
Nike’s logo made its debut public appearance in the spring of 1972. The design has undergone numerous changes over the years. At some point, the logo incorporated the “NIKE” name and the “Just Do It” tagline.
It also appeared in several color palettes, particularly orange and white. According to the company, the red color resonated with energy, joy, and passion, whereas white stood for purity, nobility, and charm.
The following is a brief timeline of the Nike’s Swoosh:
Swoosh changed its font to bold, CAPITAL letters in 1978. The logo appeared in several colors, including red and blue. It’s also in this year that Nike first adopted the Futura Bold font as a replacement for the cursive serif typeface.
Nike’s logo appeared inside a square for some time. However, that changed in the mid-80s as the brand began to attract endorsements from renowned athletes then, including retired basketball player Michael Jordan. It’s also around this period that Nike introduced the motto “Just Do It.”
1995 – Present
In 1995, Nike adopted the lone swoosh, eliminating its word mark and tag line from its official graphic image. However, the Swoosh still occasionally appears with Nike’s lettering and motto.
The Nike Swoosh is the world’s most valuable logo. A remarkable feat for a design that was almost declined for being too simplistic.