Just do it. We all have heard that. Nike is everywhere. From shoes to clothes. The brand is not just one of the biggest sports brands but also one of the biggest brands in the world. The ‘swoosh’, the sign of Nike, is famous and visible worldwide. But, for all the grandeur and success the company has, its beginnings were equally humble.
In the beginning, the brand was called Blue Ribbon Sports. The brand was started by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. Knight was a middle distance runner, who trained under Bowerman. Bowerman wanted to improve the performance of his athletes by improving their sneakers. While he was trying to do this, Knight went to Stanford and did an MBA. He wrote on importing shoes from Japan, to break the hegemony of the German brands. Th brand was founded in 1964 and began with a budget of $1200.
The brand evolved quickly due to the bright idea it was initiated with. The brand was originally supposed to be called ‘Dimension 6’ but its first employee recommended the name, Nike, after the Greek goddess of victory. While selling shoes from Japan, Bowerman came up with a design for a new shoe during breakfast. He had an epiphany while making waffles, observing that grooves in the sole would help athletes perform better in track and field.
Romanian tennis superstar Ilie “Nasty” Năstase was the first professional athlete to sign a contract with Blue Ribbon Sports to endorse their Nike shoes. Nike had finally arrived on the global stage. However, the biggest victory Nike pulled off was signing a relatively unknown, young NBA rookie from Chicago. The rise of Jordan and his successes made Nike’s popularity soar. The shoes Nike gave him, however, did not fit to the specifications of the NBA and he was fined for doing so. It was a sneaker called the Nike Airship. However, the marketing that Jordan wearing it while playing provided was unrivaled and Nike footed the fines that were imposed on him. This went to become a part of an urban culture and an oft-repeated story amongst sneaker enthusiasts and NBA fans. Jordan has the most profitable line of basketball shoes ever, called Air Jordans.
Nike diversified into the lifestyle and other sports. Soon taking over football and other sports. It has become a part of the urban lifestyle. The iconic Air Maxes to the durable Air Force, Nike has been in the business for over 50 years and it doesn’t look like it will be exciting anytime soon.