The Story of The Nike 'Tick'

Published in Branding on Feb 16, 2018 by Tim Marner™

The Nike Swoosh ident is probably one of the biggest and most misinterpreted identities of all time. Now we all know how massive the Nike brand is, but here are some figures just to give you an insight into just how big they truly are. Nike employs more than 44,000 people across the world and has total assets of around $15 billion, with the company having roughly around 700 outlets around the world.

The company takes its name from the Greek goddess of victory, Nike, who was said to be an inspiration for Greek warriors.

Many people misinterpret the Nike swoosh on a very literal level as the Nike ‘Tick’. There’s no doubt the Nike symbol is one of the most simplified logo designs of all time, but what is the real story behind this timeless logo?

The logo was created in 1971 by designer Carolyn Davidson, who was paid just $35 for her 17.5 hours of work which it took her to craft the logo, working for just $2 an hour! She was later given around 500 shares in the company which are now estimated to be worth over a cool $650k.

Carolyn took inspiration from the previously mentioned greek goddess, Nike, using her wings as a base for her creation. Developing on this initial concept, she took a very graphical and stylised approach, using curves and arches to bring the effect of speed, motion, action and movement to the ident. The logo has primarily always appeared in black, solid and bold, sleek and classy, further enhancing the aforementioned qualities of the ident. 

Over the years we have seen the logo appear in various colours, most noticeably in a bright red in an effort to further communicate the energy, passion and dynamism of the Nike brand.

Ironically, the logo wasn’t initially received very well by the company owner Phil Knight, who rejected the logo multiple times, each time asking for alternative ideas for the classic ident. In the end, he begrudgingly settled for the iconic mark that is universally known worldwide, commenting at the time "Hopefully it will grow on me”.

Of course, there is so much more than a logo when it comes to your business and your branding, but your logo and identity are key components that are generally the first touch point with any potential customers and they need to communicate what your brand is all about.

Make sure your logo is communicating the right message to your customers.

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