Nike is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon and is the largest and most successful sporting brand in the world. Today Nike shoes controls over 60% of the sports market worldwide, and has influences in almost every major sport there is. The company was started in 1953, by Bill Bowerman, track coach of the University of Oregon and Phil Knight, who was a mid distance runner at the university. Their goal for the company was to provide low cost and high tech running shoes to athletes. Nike is most popular for its iconic logo which is called “The Swoosh”. It was created in 1971 by Portland State University’s graphic design student, Carolyn Davidson. At the time she got paid just $35 for her work.

In 1980, Nike designed and patented the infamous Tail Wind running show. The shoe was known for its gas filled sole, below the heel. The defining element of the design was that the gas bubble was not covered by the material, was transparent and visible from the outside. No other company back in the day had dared to portray the inner working of their shows in the open like Nike did. In 1984, Nike shoes signs Michael Jordan to endorse their products and released their first models of the signature Air Jordan brand of shoes. Jordan’s endorsement gave a lot of positive publicity to Nike, and made the company what it is today. The introduction of the Air Jordan range of shoes was probably one of the most defining moments of Nike’s history. In 1988, Nike introduces its “Just Do It” slogan.

It’s first step into football came when they signed a deal to sponsor Brazil’s football team jerseys in 1994. This initiated a company wide effort, to enter the huge football market. The iconic yellow and green Brazil football team jersey that we see today, was the flagship on Nike’s venture into the market. In 1982, Nike aired its first television commercial ads, during the New York Marathon broadcast. Since then Nike commercials have some of the most creative and entertaining commercials in the world. It has won many awards, like the Advertiser of the Year in 1994 and 2003, at the Cannes Advertising Festival. It has also won two Emmy awards for best commercial. Nike was one of the first companies to adopt the new age in advertising and marketing. It understood the value of technology and leveraged the powers of the internet to spread the Nike message. It is one of the early adopters of internet marketing, email management technologies and using broadcast and narrowcast communication technologies to create innovative campaigns to connect with the audience.

It has been widely theorized that, Nike’s use of popular athletes as endorsers of its products is the major reason for the popularity of the brand. Nike pays top athletes in many sports, to use and promote their products. Today, we can see Christiano Ronaldo promoting soccer, LeBron James promoting Basketball, tiger Woods in golf and Roger Federer promoting tennis. It has created an ever lasting impression among the followers of these athletes who worship them like idols. Nike has also sponsored sports kits of various teams like, the Brazil national soccer team, USA track and field team and Indian national cricket team. Nike also has a huge hand in social endeavors like the Nike Grind, which closes product life cycles by reusing shoes. Nike has been and will keep on being one of the largest sports brands ever. Its customers and fans have been cherishing the products and the technologies for generations now. Nike is one of the more newer companies, which saw a meteoric rise in its brand popularity. Its closest competitor, Adidas was founded back in 1924. With its new marketing strategies and creative branding, Nike shoes has set itself apart, and its sportswear, especially the shoes, are what is driving the company forward.

Here are some of the more popular Nike shoes:

  • Air Max 1: The first of the Air Mac series, was probably one of the greatest if not the greatest creation of Nike ever. It is a mammoth achievement for a sports company to redefine shoe design and to bring to the public, something they had never seen before, let alone expect from a shoe. The air bags that cushion the feet grew bigger with heat and size. It was getting too big to fit in the midsole of the shoe. An innovative solution was produced by Nike’s designer, Tinker Hatfield. He drew inspiration from a factory in France, and decided to display the airbags in the open without concealing it in the midsole. It was instant hit among the customers. The sneaker game had officially been changed.
  • Air Force 1: It was the first basketball sneaker to incorporate the air feature in it. The inspiration was drawn from a pickup basketball game among Nike designers. Every few minutes they would have to go an cut off a section of the shoe that they thought was not helping with all the running and jumping. If the shoe lost its purpose, the player had to drop out. Practical experiments like these is what drives Nike innovation forward. They put themselves in the shoes (literally) of their customers.
  • Air Jordan 3: The first Air Jordans were an exceptional success. But the Jordan 3 is what took superficial design to new limits. It was the first pair of shoes to feature visible art, elephant print and Jumpman to the Air Jordan line. All these factors have given Nike Jordans their unique identity that we see today.
  • Air Max 95: Sergio Lozano was the chief designer behind this masterpiece. He looked to the human body for inspiration. The striking feature of the shoe were the use of grey and neon color combinations. Usually shoes back in the day were pretty plain, with primary colors being the only source of visual inspiration. Nike changed the game by adding bold colors to its designs making the shoes stand out. No matter what color the Air Max 95 was put into, the organic design always made the color combinations work.
  • Hyperdunk: This was by far the biggest basketball shoe innovation since the original Air Force 1. This new kind of shoe introduced the world to both Lunar Foam and Flywire. The high cut was offset by its incredibly light weight. The shoe was amazingly versatile and performed extremely well on the court. The high cut gave players stability and protected them from ankle rolls. The shoe looked amazing in contrast to everything that was produced before and had futuristic feel about it. It was used at the highest levels, including the Beijing Olympics.
  • Free Run 2: Basketball maybe one of the major sports that Nike is highly involved in, but its heritage lies in running sports. The Free Run 2 made headlines when it released in 2011, thanks to its slender design and great sole grip. It was designed for casual and professional runners, and it’s extremely light with tremendous grip. Its tendon mimicking overlays, is what made the technology unique. This shoe was paired with the NikeID program, where customers go in and design their own shoe. This resulted in a wild display of designs being put on shoe through the Free Run 2.

Since their creating in 1972, Nike shoes has been producing master classes in the sports world. Its unique footwear is driving the filed in both innovation and design. Like every company, they have had their share of failures and successes, but they have out everything aside and have focused on true innovation to deliver great products.

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