Did you know that Nike sells more than sixty percent of the world’s athletic shoes?
Even though Nike is one of the world’s most important brands, few people realize that it almost collapsed during its early years. Since the company has such a fascinating history, it’s important for consumers to know how executives such as Phil Knight turned it into the business that it is today.
If you want to find out more about the history of Nike, keep reading and we’ll tell you what’s important to know.
The Origin Story of Nike
The Nike brand came to life back in nineteen sixty-four with the help of a company known as Blue Ribbon Sports. Phil Knight had just finished his undergraduate studies at The University of Oregon and his graduate studies at Standford.
While he was in college he participated in track and field. This gave him the chance to develop a close relationship with his coach, Bill Bowerman.
Bowerman was obsessed with making his runners’ shoes as efficient as possible. He’d therefore spend countless hours working with different models. He also apprenticed with a neighborhood cobbler.
It turned out that Phil Knight was one of the first people to try out one of Bowerman’s homemade shoes. This wasn’t by chance. Bowerman knew that Knight was a top-performing athlete and he wanted him to start using the best sneakers that were possible to make.
After graduating from the University of Oregon, Knight attended Stanford’s MBA program where he explored theories related to producing and manufacturing athletic footwear.
After earning his MBA he moved to Japan where he helped several businessmen to start exporting their shoes to the United States. Knight also partnered with his college track and field coach Bill Bowerman to open a new company called Blue Ribbon Sports.
Nike’s First Days
With his new business Phil Knight set to the streets to sell the shoes, he’d begun importing from Japan. While he was still selling his from his car he began to realize that there was a huge demand for high-quality and inexpensive shoes.
Bowerman was already working to create new designs that were inspired by the shoes they’d been importing from Japan. His goal was to create a perfect running shoe by adding more cushioning to the insole and soft sponge rubber on the forefoot.
Sneakerhead athletes loved Bowerman’s new shoe, but it created tension between Blue Ribbon Sports and the company’s Japanese supplier who filed a lawsuit. After Blue Ribbon Sports parted with their Japanese supplier in 1971, Knight rebranded his company as Nike.
Many people don’t realize that it wasn’t Phil Knight who came up with the idea of calling his company Nike. He actually wanted to call it “Dimension 6.”
It was a man by the name of Jeff Johnson who convinced him to call his company Nike, the name of the Greek goddess of victory.
The Origin of Nike’s Logo
Now that the company had a great name, they realized they needed a logo. This is why Knight and Bowerman reached out to a student at Portland State University named Carolyn Davis.
Even though Knight was not excited about the “swoosh” design that she came up with, he decided to use it. Davis charged just two dollars per hour for her work, which means that she earned a total of thirty-five dollars for creating the company’s logo.
Thankfully, Phil Knight ended up offering Davis five hundred shares of Nike’s stock, which is now worth around a million dollars.
A New Slogan and the Company’s First Endorsements
It wasn’t until 1988 that the company’s slogan “just do it” took the world by storm. It was during this year that Nike launched an advertising campaign that made use of numerous celebrity endorsements.
By this time the company had already been working with Michael Jordon. Nike was lucky enough to strike an endorsement deal with him before Jordan started his first pro season in 1984.
Even though he’d never worn a pair of Nikes before, Jordan decided to accept the company’s offer to pay him five hundred thousand dollars a year, several top sports cars, and many pairs of custom-designed shoes.
When the first Air Jordans entered the market back in 1985 they made more than one hundred million dollars in revenue. In the years that followed Nike struck deals with top athletes such as Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, and Lebron James.
At present, Michael Jordan makes more than one hundred million dollars every year in Nike royalties.
Nike continues to manufacture shoes that are inspired by the original Air Jordans such as the Nike Air Vapormax shoes.
Nike’s Green Transition
In recent decades Nike has taken action to become a more eco-friendly company. It’s joined the Sustainable Apparel Commission and has started using various recyclable materials in its shoes and clothing.
One of the main criticisms that people make of the company is that it has not yet eliminated hazardous materials from its manufacturing process. This is why the company is making strides to stop using toxic materials. Since most of the other top sports brands have not yet addressed this issue, Nike is still leading the industry in its green transition efforts.
Become Inspired by the Fascinating History of Nike
Most people who wear the company’s apparel and shoes are unaware of the history of Nike. The company was founded by Phil Knight who started selling shoes from the back of his car. It wasn’t until the nineteen eighties that Nike’s popularity began to explode with the help of key endorsements and brilliant marketing campaigns.
Do you want to learn more about the history of important companies? If so, then be sure to visit the Business section of our website.