Nike logo: A $35 Swoosh That Becomes the Trade Mark of Multi-Billion Company

Nike Logo The Brand

In the world of creativity, the Nike logo is unquestionably a well-recognized brand logo with a simplistic, clear message.

The idea behind the swoosh is profound – elegance lies in simplicity.

Half of a century ago, in 1971, a Portland State University’s female student, Carolyn Davidson, made history by creating her now worldwide acknowledged logo design, the ‘Nike Swoosh.’

Nike is one of the most well-recognized and unique brands in the world.

The tale of this outstanding logo design is as simple and straightforward as the design itself.

As one can assume, there must be a lot of hard work, persistence, and investment behind every profitable company.

Nike Swoosh, the iconic trademark, was the innovation of a broke graphic designing student who designed this fabulous piece of art for a few additional dollars to compensate for her oil painting classes.

Nike Acknowledges Carolyn Davidson

It consumed Carolyn’s 17.5 hours of brainstorming and designing samples to come up with the ultimate logo design—these outstanding long hours of creativity were at the low-cost price of just $35.

A sort of trailblazer, this brand makes this tale both exciting and unusual. In September 1983, after a decade, the company acknowledged her original contribution to the progress of one of the world-recognized sports apparel brands, bestowed her a ring, shaped like a swoosh, with an implanted diamond and an envelope having 500 shares of Nike stock.

Beginning of the Nike Swoosh Logo – The Most Recognized Design

Phil Knight serves as the co-founder of Nike and used to work as an Assistant Professor of Accounting earlier in the Portland State University, where Carolyn studied graphic design.

He also had another job managing Blue Ribbon Sports, the West Coast seller for Tiger shoes, a Japanese enterprise made by Onitsuka Co. Ltd.

One lucky day in the year 1971, a student of graphic design, Carolyn Davidson, was resting in the Portland State University hall when she was lacking sufficient money to attend a class of oil paintings that she so sincerely wanted to.

Her Accounting Professor, Phil Knight, who was aware of her potential, approached her for freelance work for his company, Blue Ribbon Sports.

Knight usually used her help for designing charts and brochures for his company and gave her at the price of $2 per hour for her task.

After an end with his Japanese associates, he determined to start his own company of soccer shoe.

Knight once again required Davidson service to design a logo for his emerging brand.

Her only outline was that the logo must communicate a notion of movement and, most importantly, it must be unique from the competing company, “Adidas”

After nearly three weeks of brainstorming, she completed her work by outlining designs on tissue paper and then putting those drawing over a shoe design.

It consumed just over 17 and a half hours to create the famous Nike logo design.

In the start, Phil Knight and his business associates Jeff Johnson and Bob Woodell were not overly fascinated by design but determined to move forward with the Swoosh.

With the two curved lines, the logo represents motion with the sound associated as well.

The Swoosh in its graphic depiction signifies the wing of Greek Goddess Nike to symbolize the sound of pace and movement.

The word’s sound incorporates movement, and Swoosh in the logo also associates with their fiber in their shoes.

Nike’s Fascinating Resemblance with Roman History

Another fascinating resemblance can be found in Roman history.

The equivalent of Nike in Ancient Rome was the Goddess Victoria.

The checkmark ‘v’ can be regarded as an acronym for ‘veritas‘, indicating ‘true‘ and successful.

This is also a positive symbol and stands for ‘correct‘ and ‘yes‘ for sportsmen.

With practice and writing speed, the right ascending mark got extended to indicate tick mark, as signed with the crow quill pen to symbolize ‘completed ‘or ‘success.’

Today, the Nike logo design depicts motion and is also representative of a lifestyle rather than just a product.

This affirmative Nike logo’s universal appeal is such that every athlete or sportsperson wants to reach its vision.

This makes it a genuinely International American brand.

The Nike Logo Meaning

“The Swoosh in the Nike logo is a sound that we hear when something moves past rapidly by our side. The word swoosh stands for quick sound, acceleration, and movement. This is the idea that the brand logo is in a pattern that presents an arch of movement.”

The Evolution of Nike Logo

As we discussed above, Carolyn Davidson created the famous Nike logo, a graphic design student studied at Portland State University. Despite being a simplistic but renowned logo, the swoosh design has evolved and changed since it was first invented.


Although the first design of Carolyn Davidson was the hit but Knight still did not seem so satisfied with the design, he even decided to use them, believing that he will like it over time.

Nike Logo 1971
Nike Logo 1971


Futura Bold substituted the cursive serif typeface in 1978. The current font had a considerably more geometric shape, and the corner of “E” fell into the tail of swoosh. The font of kerning is especially intriguing, with some spacing between the characters.

Nike Logo Concept 1978


For a short time, the Nike logo was inside a square. But this did not continue for a longer time as it was during this phase that Nike started sponsoring famous athletes, with Michael Jordan the most prominent at that time. 

By the late 1980s, Nike launched its motto, “Just Do It.”


The current logo of Nike, the lone swoosh, was chosen in 1995. After 1995, Nike discontinued using its name from the design and, therefore, the swoosh itself becomes the identification of the brand. Today, the logo is recognized to stand for speed, quality, and athleticism, in clothing design and frequently quoted as one of the world’s most recognizable designs, with the touch of simplicity.

Nike Logo Famous Icon
Nike Logo Famous Icon

Main Design Elements of Nike Logo

The Nike swoosh sign makes the logo a significant business symbol. The company massively relies on this logo for its corporate identity.


The Nike swoosh logo is formed as the Greek goddess of Victory’s wing, Nike. So, the artist had the wing pattern in mind because of the goddess. By acquiring the shape and other elements of designs from mythological, cultural, and traditional sources, you can create interest in people with the logo.


The Nike swoosh logo has been presenting in various colors. It emerged in rich black color for several years. Then, a matte orange shade was launched as a brand color.


The Nike design is a representative. But the slogan ‘Just Do It’ was sometimes attached to the top side of the design. The company name also highlights on the logo at times. The font applied in the text seems elegant. The brand name present in bold letters font as a medium of advertising the brand.

The font looks to be Futura Bold Condensed Oblique with trivial modifications. There is some incline of the letter K to make the text unique and obvious. Nike was printed on the logo in Futura bold until 1995.

A designer chooses different elements such as colors, typeface, images, etc., very carefully to communicate the message of the brand. Not just for logos but they also use creative designs in different things such as business cards, brochures, websites, and even t-shirt designs. If you know your brand’s features and actual message, it will assist you in using the logo maker efficiently when including the elements of design.

History of The Brand “Nike”

Stephen A. Greyser who was a Harvard Business School professor and sports management expert, states, “The Swoosh has become the living, vibrant symbol of the firm. It is totally recognisable as the company, everywhere. It is global, without a doubt.

In the fashion industry’s annals, the Nike logo design is an excellent example of a simple yet classic and iconic symbol.

The company first adopted the Nike swoosh logo in June 1971 after being registered and patented with the US Patent Office.

The name written in Futura Bold was later attached to the swoosh symbol by Carolyn Davidson.

The first product was cleated shoes for football or soccer to be built at a factory in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Today, Nike is a successful fashion brand that produces every product that falls under the category of sports fashion, from apparel to footwear.

Carolyn Davidson’s logo is the vital design of the Nike swoosh, meaning boldness and effectiveness.

Nike’s story attracts every student of graphic design and advertising

Even Davidson had named it as a fair piece for the money she was paid’.

The Nike swoosh logo is unquestionably one of the most significant assets of this great sportswear brand.

The acknowledgment that the company corresponded to the designer after a decade shows the professional recognition and value of a great logo in the success of the brand.

Along with the well-known advertising slogan of ‘Just Do It’, which has been considered the top advertisement slogan of the complete twentieth century, Nike remains at the top of the sports fashion world.

The History of Nike 

In 1964, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight created a company recognized as Blue Ribbon Sports. Each man invested $500 to import the Japanese shoe Tiger and sell them in America from a direct handshake. 

At the time, most players of the world over favored German shoe brands. The pair hence founded Blue Ribbon Sports Inc., which would change its title to the victorious sports garments company we all know as Nike.

Nike’s accomplishment story is worth hearing to by anyone fascinated in sports equipment or how companies manage. As such, here is an outline to encourage you to get the lowdown on this thriving sportswear firm and how its story started.

The Start of Nike

Bill Bowerman enjoyed running and liked growing his athletes’ appearance. He was a nationally recognized track and field instructor at the University of Oregon. Phil Knight was a sportsperson and was in Bowerman’s track and field program. Then he went on to receive an MBA degree from Stanford University

Both Knight and Bowerman created that shoe technology required improvement. Knight even started with a paper that showed how quality shoes manufactured in Japan could encounter with the world’s topmost brands at the time. 

Bowerman made suitable, affordable, and protected shoes to grow his athletes’ performance. While his first models failed, Knight’s paper supported him to convert his dream into reality.

Knight took his ideas to many investors but ultimately had to work by himself. When he presented his plans to his old coach, Bowerman recommended that they build the team up and establish a partnership.

A Growing Business

As Blue Ribbon Sports started to grow, it got several mail-order sales and its storefront. Then it began to attract the founders that their future might lie in building, in addition to order and direct sales. Therefore, they made their first moves towards setting the shoe producing company, Nike. At the same period, they also originated the leading Nike swoosh symbol.

It is assumed that there are two crucial factors to their ultimate success. The first one was that throughout that time when Knight and Bowerman were testing with shoe technology and how shoes could be improved. 

Thus, Bowerman and Knight created several new designs that athletes practiced at local trials in Oregon.

Secondly, Nike’s ultimate success is connected to how people conceive of the brand today, with world-renowned sports person like Michael Jordan and Roger Federer signing the sponsorship of shoes. Nike comprehended that their new technology and footwear required the support and promotion of professionals. 

In the start, the company succeeded in securing the promotion and endorsement of Steve Prefontaine, who played excellently well in their shoes. Using the Nike shoes, Prefontaine played unusually well at the 1972 Munich Olympics. He also went on to be highlighted in Sports Illustrated magazine

The Highs and Lows of Nike

In the 1980s, Nike faced some ups and downs. Aerobics became a considerable sensation, and that kind of action needed special shoes. Nike could have grasped the chance to produce and sell aerobics shoes, but they missed that chance by a mile. 

Luckily, Nike got the opportunity to restore itself very quickly. They created and released their newest “airbag” technology, highlighting cool, fashionable designs as well as clear soles. At the same period, they started the hallowed “Bo Knows” advertisements and the cross-training shoes. The 1980s was also when the “Jordan Air” brand linked with Nike developed. Nike’s Jordan Air is one of the most successful and most permanent brands in history. 

The Development of Nike

From the 1990s to the 2000s, Nike began to branch out to golf, soccer, apparel, and other sports fields. Today, you can notice the Nike logo everywhere, from casual wear to fitness technology to workout apparel and, of course, athletic shoes.

There is no uncertainty that the company has an international scope and its sponsorships run into the world of sports. 

Some facts about the Nike logo

The following are the some of the interesting facts about the Nike.

The First Logo Was Not On A Sneaker

Initially, Nike’s sneakers did not have the Nike swoosh on them. In fact, the original sneaker to hold Nike on it was not a sneaker at all; it was a soccer cleat. It was in 1971 that Nike issued its “The Nike” football boot.

This was the first shoe to hold the Nike swoosh symbol on it. The $16.95 price, the shoe did not maintain too well in wet and cold weather and soon lost the competition to other famous brands at that time. This is when Nike began to concentrate on guaranteeing persistence in its racing, tennis, and basketball footwear.

 “Just Do It” Moto Inspired By A Serial Killer’s Last Words

Whenever you imagine the Nike swoosh logo, you conceive Nike’s famous slogan “Just Do It”. The motto has long been a famous advertisement slogan. In fact, it was listed amongst the top 5 advertisement slogans of the 20th century.

But here is something that will shock you! The motto was came in to being by the inspiration of the last words of a serial killer. Dan Wieden, who gave this slogan, acknowledges that the slogan was taken from Utah killer Gary Gilmore, who was doomed to death in 1977 to rob and assassinate two men. Gilmore allegedly said “let’s do it” when he faced his execution.

Adidas Was The Challenge

An expert logo designer always acknowledges a client’s rivals in creating a business logo. This is because a logo makes a brand name that stands out and is distinct from the rivals. Davidson identified that Adidas was the brand that Nike want to race within the market of the sports shoe.

Carolyn Davidson created the logo to compete with the Adidas logo. This logo had three lines that became larger at a certain angle. She loved the idea of the rise, which represented strength and motion. But rather than three individual lines, she transformed them into one continuous thick mark. This provided the logo a feeling of energy and movement.

Over 17 Hours of Designing

The Nike logo looks like a simple swoosh design. But simplicity is more difficult to achieve. The designer Davidson consumed 17.5 hours to create this logo. A lot of brainstorming and design procedures were included in designing the sign.

Originally, an idea behind the Nike swoosh was to draw a shoe. Then, it was deemed to be placed on a tissue paper. If it seemed fine, then probably they would have confirmed working on it further.

But Davidson stated in an interview that the actual challenge was in turning that concept of a shoe into a logo design. The Nike symbol was believed to fit on the shoe. It had to seem practical on the shoe. So, she made drawings of the swoosh logo on tissue paper.

Then, place the design on a shoe to examine its appearance. Another challenge for Davidson was creating a classic and clean logo but different from other rival companies. There were rivals like Adidas in the market.

The Swoosh Logo Was in Red Color For A Long Time

The initial Nike ‘Swoosh’ logo was not black as we recognize it today. For a very long time, Nike adopted red and white color palette on its logo. The company idea behind the color shade was that red represented strength, enthusiasm, joy, and white-expressed dignity, simplicity, and beauty. Later, the company changed its color scheme of its ‘Swoosh’ logo to make it look sleek and classy.

Possibly The Highest Pay For A Logo Design:

Carlyon Davidson can be considered the highest-paid logo designer in terms of overall money obtained from the design. When she completed the Nike logo, Nike owners paid her $35. Her wage was fixed at $ 14 per day.

But Nike acknowledged the contribution of the logo in Nike’s development as a successful international shoe business. The company owner Knight recognized Davidson in 1983 as one of the significant minds of Nike.

The company arranged a surprise party for her. She was provided even a bigger shock in the party. Knight presented her a unique golden ring that had a swoosh shaped diamond on it. Not only that, she also got 500 shares of the company.

At that time, the value of the shares was at $18,000 of the existing dollar rate. She later possessed 8000 shares of Nike. The stakes values around half a million dollars. Hope the story of the Nike logo is inspiring. They guide us on how a logo begins as a humble figure that was liked by many. And the design brought the attention of people. But most of all, it is not the logo that plays a crucial part in the success of the brand but its reliability and consistency as well

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