Tag Archives: Blue Ribbon Sports

A History of Nike

For over fifty years, Nike has been one of the best-known and most respected footwear companies of all time, specializing in sports and running shoes. But, like most companies, they started small.

In 1964, Nike was founded by track-and-field athlete Phillip Knight, looking for a way to earn a living. The business, originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports, got their start selling Tiger running shoes, imported from the Onitsuka company in Japan. They made most of their sales out of their car after track meets. He was soon joined in this venture by his track coach, Bill Bowerman, who was looking for higher quality track shoes for his athletes.

The Tigers sold quickly, and the company burgeoned, soon hiring full-time employees and opening their first location. By 1971, Blue Ribbon Sports had made over a million dollars, and was ready to move out on its own. Their first original shoe was dubbed the Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory. It was also the first to feature Nike’s famous trademark “swoosh,” designed by Carolyn Davidson. Interestingly enough, Knight didn’t originally care for the symbol, saying, “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me.”

Nike’s first self-designed shoe was the waffle-soled Moon shoe, debuting in 1972. While looking for a new sole that would get better grip on urethane tracks, Bowerman found inspiration in the household waffle iron, and used it to mold the first sole. Other early innovations by Nike included a nylon-topped running shoe, and a cushioned midsole that covered the whole length of the shoe.

By 1978, Blue Ribbon Sports officially changed it’s company name to Nike, and sales were booming. Sales reached 270 million dollars, and had fully half of the running and sports shoe market in the US by 1980, going public the same year. Nike aggressively pushed their image, especially seeking to increase their visibility by having famous and upcoming athletes wear Nikes shoes.

Nike’s success can also be partly attributed to the running, jogging and fitness craze that swept the nation. By the time these activities began to decline in popularity, the company was already spreading to other areas such as basketball, though their running shoes remained popular. The famous air cushioning device also made it’s debut around this time.

In 1983, the company met declines, and was forced to make structuring changes and layoffs over the next few years. In 1985, Nike launched it’s Air Jordans line with legend Michael Jordan endorsing. Over the next few years, it was the innovate Air series that saw Nike pull through. Nike continued its domination well through the ’90’s, cementing its place in the business.

A Company Vision That is Hard to Beat

Few sports equipment manufacturers have created more trends than Nike. Established in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports, this public traded Fortune 500 Company became Nike, Inc in 1978. The name is from the Greek goddess of victory which is an apt trademark for a company that has won over the sports public and professionals as Nike has.

By sponsoring high profile athletes and sports teams, Nike has made its “Just do it” slogan a term recognized by sports enthusiasts around the world. The simple Swoosh logo was introduced with the first Nike running shoes in 1972 and is used to this day. For Nike products, the name isn’t necessary as the simple Swoosh clearly states “this is a Nike product”.

The growth of this powerful company has been due to the expansion into various sports in a targeted and effective way. By marketing its products under its own brand name and also marketing through subsidiary companies, the reach of Nike extends worldwide from its US base in Oregon.

The marketing strategy used by Nike positions the brand products as premium quality with superior design. Though once associated with very affordable products, the focus in recent years has moved toward higher end pricing which is marketable due to the high profile of the brand name. What sets Nike apart is the willingness to expand into related markets quickly. A simple ad in print media in 1977 was so successful Nike immediately created a poster featuring the ad. Featuring a runner alone on a country road with the tagline “There is no finish line”, that simple ad led to a new poster business for Nike.

In recent years, Nike has become the sponsor for many of the world’s top athletes and sports teams. With a clothing line as well as footwear and all of the sports equipment and gear to go with them, Nike is a leader in promoting athletic with sales in over 160 countries. Products are sold directly from the manufacturer but also through independent distributors, subsidiary companies and license agreements.

The favorable public view of Nike as a company is promoted by contributing to local and regional sports teams, local distributors who sponsor events in the Nike brand name and the award winning commercials the company has produced over the years. Though there have been complaints about working conditions in some production facilities that might harm the public image of other companies, Nike has been able to address the complaints without suffering harm to their image.