Nike was originally known as Blue Ribbon Shoes. It was founded in 1964 by the runner Philip Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman. They established the company to import cheap Japanese running shoes for sale in the U.S. At the very beginning they had no room or shop, so Philip Knight sold the shoes out of the back of his car. Meanwhile Bill Bowerman worked on improvements to the footwear. He tore the shoes apart to see how he could make them lighter and better.
In 1967 a third person joined Blue Ribbon Shoes. It was Jeff Johnson. A runner himself, Johnson became the first full-time employee of Blue Ribbon Shoes. His contribution to the company is so great that it's hard to estimate. Johnson created the first product brochures, print adverts and marketing materials, and even took the photographs for the company’s catalogues. He established a mail-order system and opened the first company shop.
At about the same time the company became ready to take a big move forward. They no longer wanted to be distributors, but wished to start designing and manufacturing their own brand of athletic shoes. Here again Johnson made an enormous contribution to the company. One night, he dreamed of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, and suggested the name to his bosses.
Yet, another thing was missing – a memorable logo. One was created by a graphic design student Carolyn Davidson. She had become acquainted with Philip Knight who asked her for her design ideas and Carolyn agreed to do some freelance work for his company. Soon she presented a number of designs to Philip Knight and the other company managers, and they finally selected the mark which today is the Swoosh. That has been the Nike logo ever since then. Amazingly, Carolyn asked just $35 for her work.
In 1988 Nike started an advertising campaign with its world famous slogan 'Just Do It'. The slogan was born during a Nike meeting with the advertising agency. The slogan has become so closely associated with Nike that as soon as most people hear or see those three words, they remember Nike, even if the company name is not mentioned. Today, the words 'Just Do It' and the Nike "swoosh" brandmark are all that are needed to identify something as a Nike product.
Isn't it amazing how a small symbol we call a logo can make a company into a huge success!