The Story of the Nike Logo

nike logo swosh design history

Nike is currently the world’s largest seller of athletic footwear. The company’s line of shoes badly needed a logo in 1970. They were hunting for an emblem that will strengthen the brand and the relationship with its customers. The top management of Blue Ribbon Sports (the company officially became “Nike” by the late ’70s) wanted something that will symbolize movement, speed and authenticity.

The bottom-line: the new logo must be stylish, fresh, distinctive, and stand out from those of rival shoe manufacturers. At that time, Puma shoes featured a stripe that ran along the sides. On the other hand, Adidas had gained worldwide popularity for its eye-catching “arch-gripping three stripes” logo.

phil knight carloyn davidson nike logo designer

In 1971, the company’s co-founder Phil Knight gave the task to a virtually unknown Portland State University art student named Carolyn Davidson. Within a week, she came up with a few concepts. Knight and his partners went over the sketches before finally settling on a logo that comprised of a rounded check mark, supposedly representing the wing of the Greek goddess “Nike”.

Davidson only charged $35 for her design. Knight would remark that although he didn’t initially “love” the emblem, perhaps his admiration will likely grow brighter. And it happened. Davidson’s Nike logo became one of the world’s most iconic and instantly trademarks in the coming years. Often termed as the “Swoosh”, it has become a worldwide icon and can be seen almost everywhere on the planet.

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