Nike – The Global Brand’s Journey


Nike is by far one of the most successful brands on Earth. If you’re looking to grow your brand, then you should follow in the footsteps of the greats.

Nike. One of the most successful global brands to this date. They are experts in product design, marketing, and branding their business. But why are we bootlicking Nike? (pardon the pun). Well, because businesses all around the globe can learn something from the sportswear titan and international brand.

You should always follow the example of a business that has built themselves up and become a household name. Nike’s brand journey is one of importance in the world of marketing, branding and advertising.

So, kick back. Relax. And get ready to learn all about one of the biggest brands in the world. We’ll be covering a brief history of the brand, as well as various marketing, branding and advertising strategies they’ve implemented over the years – that earned them some serious cash and a global positioning. Everything you learn from this blog can be applied to your business, and brand culture. So, if global positioning and dominance is your aim, then you need to keep scrolling through and reading our post! It all begins, now…

Nike’s History

Founded back in 1964, where it was previously known as Blue Ribbon Sports until 1971, the brand has come a long way. The founders, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, began making trainers for track athletes at the University of Oregon. Like we’ve mentioned, the company rebranded as Nike.Inc in 1971, named after the Greek goddess of victory. However, the iconic logo was not incorporated into the brand identity until they took the goddess’ name. It was designed by Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student, and was paid a mere $35 for her design. Now, the logo is famous and globally recognised as a part of Nike’s core international brand.  It’s acquired many footwear companies and other sports brands (including Converse [Chuck Taylor AllStar] and Umbro).

In their first year of business, they made an admirable $8000 profit, but in 2017, the company was valued at $29.6 billion. Big change. But, how did the brand grow to such heights and become a global success?

How Did Nike Grow?

Nike has continued to sell sportswear, but moved into different product lines like selling streetwear and sports equipment too. But their business has grown exponentially over the years, due to their smart marketing and global strategies. See, with the right marketing, any business can be a success. It just takes time and investment, and Nike has undoubtedly invested.

If you want to launch a brand into global success, then you need to execute your branding and marketing campaigns in the right way. How has Nike marketed their business and product lines so well over the years?

1. Working with Big Names

One of the most significant parts of Nike’s initial marketing strategy was to collaborate with basketball legend Michael Jordan, to create Air Jordans back in 1984. Jordan has been associated with the brand identity, rolling out millions of pairs of Air Jordans across the globe. In the early days of Nike, when they were primarily a sports brand, they collaborated with athletes from around the world, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Tiger Woods. They have made kits and trainers for various sports teams around the US and the globe. When Nike began branching into casual and streetwear, the brand collaborated with celebrities too. To this day, celebrities are thought to have more influence on the trainer market than athletes now. Associating a brand with the right industry professional is key to market a business well.

2. Being Consistent

At the heart of Nike’s brand is the swoosh logo. We all recognise the Nike tick from a mile away, and that’s because it has been part of the brand’s logo since 1971. Here’s the logo (as of 1995) below.

Even Nike’s signature slogan has been the same for 30+ years – Just Do It. They’ve remained consistent in their branding and global marketing strategies throughout the duration of the company. See, through maintaining their brand and visual identity, they’ve become a reputable company which is recognised globally. Brand consistency puts businesses in a trustworthy light, which makes consumers want to purchase their products or services. It’s a master marketing move, to make people want things that they don’t actually need. And these people buy things because they trust the brand and corporate identity.

3. Making a Splash

Nike’s biggest strength is that they continually innovate and aren’t afraid to shy away from bold branding and advertising campaigns. It’s essential for a business to make themselves known. To constantly push boundaries and stay with the times. Many companies have moved into creating eco-friendly products, for example, but Nike do this and more. They improve trainers with new technology, stay on trend with the latest fashion and create adverts that you remember. Because that’s one of the key ways to success; being memorable.

Below, is the most recent ad from Nike for Dream with Us campaign. See what we mean, memorable.

Nike’s Emotive Branding

A notable quality of Nike’s branding is its emphasis on emotional engagement visual identity. When Nike start a new marketing campaign, there’s always the touch of emotion behind each ad, poster or product release. You can see the effect of this emotive advertising in the clip above. The world coming together to effectively save it, and making everyone a hero. If you’re not too sure what we mean, then we’ll go into more detail below.

Nike’s branding places the consumer as a hero, much like the goddess of victory. Through their global advertising, there’s a focus of being someone better, actively doing something – Just Do It and all that. Nike is notorious for empowering women in their branding and marketing campaigns and creating a culture of being your best self.

This form of emotional advertising is everywhere, not just in Nike’s brand. Charities want you to feel sympathy in their ads, chocolate companies want you to feel hungry, and loan companies want you to feel supported – and it works. People take out loans, donate to charity, buy Cadbury’s and buy Nike products. Because creating a brand that evokes emotion is key to winning over your target audience.

Dealing with Bad Press

Like with most huge companies, Nike has had some public slip-ups. But what’s more important is their recovery from bad press. When it was found that Nike was using underpaid workers overseas, they rectified this by setting up standards, working with registered factories only and being completely transparent about all their workings. That’s the key to responding to negativity, admitting mistakes and rectifying them quickly and correctly.

Any company can face bad press at times, be it on a local or global scale. Humility is a quality that public businesses lack, and this opaqueness does not go down well with consumers. Transparency becomes key for brands both big and small, to admit their failings and rectify them in the best possible way.

Nike’s Business Values

‘To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.’ – Nike’s Mission Statement

As with any business, Nike has a robust set of core values at the heart of their branding. Nike’s mission statement is to inspire and innovate on a global scale. Adapting from their origins of supplying trainers to athletes, they’ve evolved to focus on everyone, all across the globe.

The massive brand is a socially conscious business, meaning they focus on improving the world, and target audience around them. They talk about keeping kids active and healthy, lowering carbon emissions and investing in preventative HIV measures in developing countries. What businesses can learn from Nike is that integrating their brand identity into the community can do wonders for it. Sponsoring sports teams or even charities works on both a local and global scale, so even smaller businesses can just do it (couldn’t resist).

Social Media

Another thing the brand gets right is managing their social media. Social Media marketing has grown into one of the leading forms of digital marketing over the past 5 or so years. The social media networks can be used to cultivate your online image as well as advertise it too.

Nike has a whopping 87.6 million followers on Instagram alone. Their social following across various networks is an impressive number, as they tower above their competitors, such as Adidas. That’s because they retain this brand consistency throughout the entirety of their business, and that extends to their social media too. A balanced mix of emotive advertising and product features levels their pages out. All their social media channels strike the right balance between ads and lifestyle also.

What businesses can learn from Nike is that consistency is critical. Your brand needs to cross between everything from your website, products and even social media too. It’s also about striking the right balance, to not over-saturate target audience with promotional content. We’ve spoken in other blog posts about creating an enriching experience for the consumer via social media.

Following Suit

So, after all of this, what can your business learn from Nike? We understand that not everyone is a sportswear/street brand with over 50 years’ experience. But Nike’s marketing and branding techniques and methodology are all transferable tactics you can implement to almost any business.

You can work with the right people to promote and market your business. They don’t need to be of celebrity stature, but influencers and affiliate marketing is a proven method of selling both products and services online. Retaining brand consistency is a great way to ensure consumer trust in your brand, one that they’ll recognise for years to come and always come back to. Like Nike, make your advertising bold, distinctive and memorable, any business can do it with the right creatives behind campaigns.

Learn how to brand your business in the right way; use emotive advertising to really inspire and engage an audience. Another critical aspect is to be human and retain a certain degree of humility. Be transparent about your failings and be honest with your consumers; they’re the ones that make a business successful after all. Set your key values at the forefront of your business, make sure you keep up with the times and trends – if you’re an environmentally conscious company, boast it!

Advertise the charities you work with and what you do for the environment or the local community. It works on every level. Finally, refine your social media presence. Maintain that brand consistency throughout your profiles. Create content that both promotes and enriches an audience; it can do wonders for your business.

All of this can help your business grow. If you need a hand implementing these digital marketing techniques, give us a call or drop us a message. We’ll work alongside you to grow your brand further and further!