August 2, 2021

Brand Inspiration: Nike

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Posted by Sharmarke Hujale

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3 min read

Nike was founded by Phil Knight, a track runner athlete at the University of Oregon alongside his former coach Bill Bowerman. In the beginning, the company was called Blue Ribbon Sports before it became Nike in 1971.

Nike has been a part of my life as far as I can remember — that was before I had background knowledge about the company. The funny thing is when I wanted to buy shoes, especially for sport, my choice would land on Nike for the majority of the time. 

“The greatest job of marketing the universe has ever seen is Nike”, said Steve Jobs in his internal staff meeting at Apple back in 1997. “Remember that Nike sells a commodity, they sell shoes. And yet when you think of Nike, you feel something different than a shoe company.” 

Phil Knight said something profound about his beliefs with Nike: 

“Driving back to Portland I’d puzzle over my sudden success at selling. I’d been unable to sell encyclopedias, and I’d despised it to boot. I’d been slightly better at selling mutual funds, but I’d felt dead inside. So why was selling shoes so different? Because, I realized, it wasn’t selling. I believed in running. I believed that if people got out and ran a few miles every day, the world would be a better place, and I believed these shoes were better to run in. People, sensing my belief, wanted some of that belief for themselves. Belief, I decided. Belief is irresistible. Sometimes”

Nike is great at telling what they care about in a compelling and engaging way. When they advertise, the product’s features and benefits are not the focus — it’s how Nike honors athletes. As Nike says on their website about their purpose, “We bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world — if you have a body, you are an athlete.” 

What I found the most inspiring about Nike is its courage to stand for something. And what greater example is there when they used Colin Kaepernick in their “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” campaign. Followed by the Dream Crazy ad video. 

Nike — Dream Crazy video

During an interview, the founder of Nike Phil Knight said about the ad: “It doesn’t matter how many people hate your brand as long as enough people love it. And as long as you have that attitude, you can’t be afraid of offending people .” 

Further on he says: “You can’t try and go down the middle of the road. You have to take a stand on something, which is ultimately I think why the Kaepernick ad worked.” 

It’s in Nike’s DNA. Phil Knight refers to his former coach and co-founder Bowerman as his hero and is thankful for instilling in him the never-give-up attitude.


In short, What We Can Learn From Nike:

  • Talk about your beliefs. Don’t be afraid for standing for something — you will find a group of people who will love you.
  • Stick tightly to your Brand’s DNA — it’s your biggest asset.
  • Give credits and show gratitude for the hero(es) you have met along your journey — they become a part of you in the way, you’re shaped today. 

You can also read about the brand inspiration that I have done on charity: water and Ahmad Tea.

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