A Swoosh is born

Back when we were re-designing the meeting rooms*, a call-out was sent to the whole office to discover who they thought are the most inspiring creative women. The list that came back was impressive, with some more obvious names, and others that few will have heard of. Carolyn Davidson may be more of those people, nevertheless she is the reason behind the naming of our meeting room, ‘Davidson’. Most importantly, she is behind quite possibly the most recognisable logo in history, the Nike Swoosh (or tick). The logo which represents inspiration and innovation to athletes and amateurs the world over. The meeting room, as you can imagine, is adorned with trainers or ‘sneakers’ depending on your heritage, plus images playing homage to the brand.

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Back in 1971, the swoosh was born. It came from humble beginnings, conceived by student and Graphic Artist Carolyn Davidson, who was studying at Portland State University at the time. A chance encounter with professor and Nike co-founder, Phil Knight in the hallway resulted in him hiring her at $2/hour to work on a few designs for his side business (that eventually became Nike). Knowing this, it’s easier to understand why he only paid a staggering $35 for the design, which is $208 in today’s money… still jaw-droppingly cheap for one of the most recognisable brand designs of all time. Her brief was simple… to make a stripe but not like Adidas’s. Although the tale of how the logo came to be is important, it’s the ideology behind the design that helps to explains its success. Nike is a goddess from Greek mythology, famed for wearing large wings on the battlefield. You can’t help but see a nod to the winged goddess in Davidson’s design which uses a checkmark shape to indicate victory, strength and motion.  Perhaps even more importantly, the design fits on the side of a shoe perfectly.

The story of the Nike Swoosh highlights the importance of having your brand and product closely aligned. Would Nike have been half as successful if it was not for such strong branding that represented them as a sports brand? Probably not.

*All of our meeting rooms are named after inspiring creatives and we’ll be telling their stories in the coming weeks.

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