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Although the Nike company started as a small Japanese shoe reseller in Oregon, it has now grown into a mainstream athletic and sports brand that is known all over the world. Through Nike’s brand identity, it is quickly outshining its competitors and creating a loyal following of satisfied customers. During Nike’s first year, 1964, the company grossed $8,000 in overall sales, whereas, in 2020, the brand’s revenue reached heights of $37.4 billion USD. Where did Nike get its start to become the national sensation it is today, and how will it proceed as the athletic market continues to shift toward the luxury industry?
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Headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, Nike is located near its place of origin, Eugene, Oregon. Blue Ribbon Sports, the name Nike was first founded under, was created by an athlete and his coach: Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. The pair began reselling Japanese shoes out of Phil’s automobile, building their company value year by year. They opened their first retail store in 1966 in Santa Monica, California after making thousands in revenue. The very next year they expanded to Wellesley, Massachusetts due to popularity and high demand. In 1971, Blue Ribbon Sports made the switch from resale to designing their own shoe brand which they named Nike, after the Greek goddess of victory. Along with their rebranding process, they developed the iconic “swoop” that is now visible on every Nike retail item today; Carolyn Davidson is the designer of this iconic logo, and it can be argued that she is responsible for creating the foundation of the Nike brand. In a 1988 ad campaign, they released the phrase “Just Do It” as a part of their new brand identity. Throughout the 1980s, Nike expanded into a national company, making its products accessible to most areas of the world. The many years Nike has been in existence have been the building blocks of the brand’s popularity and image. Even now they continue to grow and evolve to match the needs of the company and its consumers.
One thing that Nike has been adamant about concerning their products and brand identity is the purpose behind it all. Aside from supporting athletes and making cool shoes, Nike has a greater mission in mind. Nike’s purpose page, accessible on their website, says “Our Purpose is to move the world forward. We take action by building community, protecting our planet, and increasing access to sport.” Nike takes a strong stance on topics that affect the well-being of communities nationwide. Its four areas of focus are “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” giving everyone a fair chance to champion; “Responsible Sourcing,” remaining sustainable and helpful toward the prosperity of our planet and the people living here; “Empowering Communities,” supporting the small networks that run our towns and neighborhoods, giving them the resources to lift up members and invite in others to continue growing; and lastly, “Protecting the Planet,” along with remaining sustainable, Nike wants to give back to the planet and build a better future for the next generations.
As it was mentioned before, Nike, previously known as Blue Ribbon Sports, made $8,000 in gross profit in its first year as a company, in 1964. From there, until today, Nike has grown exponentially, garnering more employees, retail locations, products, and, of course, loyal customers. In 2022, Nike made $21.479 billion, which is a 7.6% increase from the year 2021. In December of 1980, Nike went public after making its first mainstream advertisement in company history. Now, in 2022, Nike has around 1.611 billion shareholders who all share a belief in the company, its principles, its purpose, and the products it sells. Currently, Nike’s price per share is $166.67, a huge jump from 2017 when shares were $54.99. The shareholders of Nike not only enjoy the credit of the big name and logo, but they are also part of a bigger picture that has a greater purpose outside of the company’s revenue. Now, a company as huge and popular as Nike simply doesn’t run itself. A web of employees, managers, executives and directors are the people behind the swoosh. When Blue Ribbon Sports began, it started with only two employees, the founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. In 2022, Nike has reportedly 79,100 active employees who make sales, fulfill orders, and determine the direction of the company.
Part of what makes Nike such a popular brand is the iconic products they sell, ranging from shoes to sports equipment to clothing for everyone. Some of Nike’s best-selling shoes include the Air Jordan series, ranging from a multitude of unique styles and colorways; Nike Air Force 1s, which are most popular in the all-white colorway as seen worn by influencers and celebrities alike but are sold in almost any color; and the Nike Dunk series, a procession of high quality, clean-style basketball shoes that can be worn on and off the court. Nike also sells clothing designed for men, women, and kids, often selling matching sets that can be worn by the whole family. These clothing lines include sweatshirts, t-shirts, athletic pants, and shorts, as well as accessories such as hats, socks, and gloves. Additionally, Nike specializes in high-tech, durable sports equipment for almost every sport played today. From soccer to football, volleyball to basketball, Nike works to make every sport accessible to all players.
Nike has a bright future ahead of itself as it keeps its main purpose in mind with everything it produces. In 2023, Nike will continue to create new colorways and patterns for their existing shoe designs that are bought by millions around the world. Additionally, Nike will keep striving for excellence with new ideas and releases, offering a wider array of shoes, clothes, and equipment to their customers. On February 14th, Nike plans to release ‘No Finish Line,’ a book that discusses the future of the brand and the direction they plan to set off towards. The book will include a foreword by Nike’s Chief Design Officer, John Hoke, as well as a number of essays and speculative fiction pertaining to the topic of Nike’s future. The book will cover the “five major shifts” design itself may change in the coming years and how Nike plans to tackle these events. Keep your eye on bookshelves near you and online sellers alike for ‘No Finish Line,’ because this small book may be our best clue into what Nike has queued up next for its brand and its customers.
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After this brief but thorough analysis of the Nike brand, it is safe to say that there is no stopping something with such momentum and influence. The combination of Nike’s products, customers, and principles, makes it a leading contestant in the shoe-making industry, as well as national businesses at large. You may ask, how does this affect you? Simply put, Nike is making moves to strengthen the next generation – your generation. If that is something that matters to you, it’s vital for you to take tangible action to support Nike’s mission and make an impact on the world you live in. Does this mean turning your entire wardrobe into a Nike commercial? Or perhaps investing in Nike stock? Not necessarily. You can take one small step at a time, such as volunteering near you or lobbying for environmental rights. Just take Nike’s example; a huge, multi-billion dollar company is able to do great good, not because of how influential they are, but because their intentions are good and they seek to do what is best for everyone around them.
By Finley Clough
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