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The Evolution of Nike: From Blue Ribbon Sports to a Global Icon

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

Nike is one of the most iconic and recognizable brands in the world. Known for its "swoosh" logo and slogan "Just Do It," Nike has become synonymous with athletic performance and style. However, many people may not know that Nike was not always called Nike. In fact, the company was originally called Blue Ribbon Sports before being renamed in 1971 after the Greek goddess of victory. In this post, we will explore the fascinating history of Nike and its transformation from a small start-up to a global powerhouse.

The Founding of Blue Ribbon Sports

Blue Ribbon Sports was founded in 1964 by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. Knight, a track athlete at the University of Oregon, had the idea of importing high-quality running shoes from Japan to sell in the United States. Bowerman, Knight's coach at the time, was a renowned track and field coach who was known for his innovative training methods and his desire to create better athletic shoes.

The two men started their business with a mere $500 investment and began selling shoes out of the trunk of Knight's car at track meets and other athletic events. They quickly found a niche in the market, and their shoes became popular among serious runners.

The Rebranding of Blue Ribbon Sports to Nike

In 1971, Blue Ribbon Sports was facing financial difficulties, and Knight and Bowerman decided that they needed to rebrand their company to better compete with other athletic shoe manufacturers. They hired a graphic design student named Carolyn Davidson to create a logo for their new brand. Davidson came up with the "swoosh" logo, which has since become one of the most recognizable logos in the world.

The new brand needed a new name to match its new logo, and the company settled on Nike. The name was inspired by the Greek goddess of victory, and it captured the essence of what the company stood for: athletic performance, determination, and success.

The Rise of Nike

The rebranding of Blue Ribbon Sports to Nike was a turning point for the company. The new name and logo helped to establish a clear identity and message for the brand, and Nike quickly became one of the most popular athletic shoe manufacturers in the world.

The company's success was helped by a series of high-profile athlete endorsements, including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Serena Williams, among many others. Nike also invested heavily in marketing and advertising, creating memorable campaigns such as "Just Do It" and sponsoring major sports events and teams.

Today, Nike is a global powerhouse, with a presence in more than 190 countries and revenue of over $37 billion in 2020. The company has expanded its product line to include a wide range of athletic apparel and accessories, and it continues to be a leader in innovation and technology.


In conclusion, Nike's evolution from Blue Ribbon Sports to Nike is a fascinating example of how a company can transform its identity and brand to achieve success. The rebranding helped to establish Nike's identity as a company that values athletic performance, determination, and success. Today, Nike is a global icon that has left an indelible mark on the world of sports and fashion. Whether you're a serious athlete or just someone who appreciates stylish and comfortable clothing, Nike's products are sure to impress.


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