Nike Logo History

Nike Logo History

Nike is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous brands and was recorded as the most successful apparel brand in the world in 2019 with a smashing $32 billion of brand value. With such fame, it is safe to say that Nike’s logo is one of the most well-known logos out there. It sometimes feels so weird to think of a logo as simple as having just one swoosh and still getting such fame and recognition from all over the world. It would not be wrong to say that this logo has now become a sign with its meaning in itself.

Most of the people just see a swoosh mark and associate it with Nike without even anyone telling them anything about what the logo represents. Moreover, the fame of this logo in the meme culture is worth mentioning too since it has been adding more to the number of those who would now recognize this logo like they recognize their loved ones’ faces.

So, A Logo This Great Must Have Cost The Brand Thousands Of Dollars?


It is natural to think this way. Especially considering the fame that the brand has gained over the years, it is not much of a big deal to think that they must have made their graphics designer a rich champ the day he would have made this logo. But the truth is actually the opposite of all such thoughts. (Don’t feel bad about being so judgmental. That makes one of us since I thought the same way)

Believe it or not, the famed Nike swoosh was made by a student who was not paid a hefty amount back in the day. But what exactly was it that made the student design this logo and who was that student? Has the Nike logo been exactly the same since it was made? If you have questions like these and want to the history behind the Nike logo, then keep on reading and you would get the answers to all of them.

The History of Nike Logo Design


It was the year 1971 when a young graphic designing student named Carolyn Davidson was sitting in one of the Portland State University’s halls and was lamenting on how she is short on money and cannot take a class she wants to. A kindhearted professor named Phil Knight was working in the same university and, getting to know of Davidson’s problem, offered her to earn via ‘freelancing’ for his company that was called the Blue Ribbon Sports.

They both agreed to work together and planned on launching a new brand that would sell football shoes and would be called NIKE. It was Carolyn’s chance and she was asked by professor Knight to design a logo for Nike. The student was quick to respond and came back with a design after working on it for some minutes and 17 hours. She wanted the design to represent a sense of movement, something she must have envisioned her brand’s shoes to provide the footballers with ease. She also wanted the design to be so classic and minimalist that it could make the shoe look good. She made a tick or swoosh mark that, when people would say it, would onomatopoeically make them sense a momentum.

All such intensely creative and brand-focused thinking led Carolyn to make a design on a tissue paper that she later tried on a shoe. Even after that, her professor (now her boss), did not like the logo much. However, being tight on the budget, he decided to go with the same for some time and told the designer that they would improve it over time.

The designer was paid only $35 at that time and as time passed, this $35 worth of a logo design was permanently attached to the brand that later transformed into a multi-millionaire brand. Overall, both the brand’s name and the logo’s design are inspired by the Goddess Nike whose wing is envisioned to be in a symmetry that matches that of the Logo’s swoosh.

Source: logohill


Nike Logo Design Over The Years

Source: Desinghill

Despite the brand sticking with the same basic design, the history behind the Nike logo is not that simple. In fact, the brand has made some minor, yet noticeable changes in its logo over the years. Despite all the changes, the initially made design has been retained and keeps on being embossed and embellished on every product that this company makes.

The most common changes in the logo over the years have been no more than a bit fattening or slimming of the tick mark, a little chance in the font, or a change in alphabets from all capitalized to all lower case.

Here is how the logo changed over the years:

  • 1971

The originally designed logo that is still in use on some special Nike products, this logo has a hollow space inside the swoosh and has ‘Nike’ written in all small letters right over the tick mark.

  • 1978

This time the ‘NIKE’ is all capital in bold dark black font and the tick mark being all filled in black color too.

  • 1985

This year and a few more to come, the design is almost similar to that in 1978 except for the fact that it is now all white in colors and is enclosed in a box that makes the logo a little big and bulky.

  • 1995

Here comes the Nike logo that you see now on every other tee and shoe pair. The brand is now famed enough that people don’t need its name to recognize its logo. In a powerful move, the owner decides to remove the ‘NIKE’ word from the slim black swoosh and let the customers be reminded of the great brand without its name being written out there.

To be honest, Nike logo history inspired me, as a struggling designer to give my best and don’t lose hope in my abilities even when the client does not like my work. Remember, Knight also did not love the logo at first!

Leave a Reply

Close Menu