Reasons Why The Nike Swoosh Logo Is A Tick [Facts And The History Of Nike Brand]

Last Updated on September 6, 2023 by Chase Reiner

The Nike Swoosh logo is a checkmark, not a tick. Designed in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, it represents motion and speed. Its simplicity and recognizable shape make it a powerful brand icon.

9 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Nike’s Swoosh Logo

  1. Conceptualized by a Student: The iconic Swoosh logo was born out of the creative genius of a young graphic design student named Carolyn Davidson in 1971. Interestingly, Carolyn was paid a mere $35 for her remarkable design, which has since become a globally recognized symbol.
  2. Represents the Wing of a Greek Goddess: Supplying a unique mythological touch, the Swoosh symbolizes the wing of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. It is designed to portray movement and speed, which aligns perfectly with the brand’s tagline – “Just Do It”.
  3. Originally Accompanied by the Brand Name: Until 1995, Nike incorporated its name alongside the logo. However, the brand decided to eliminate the name in a bold move, letting the Swoosh stand alone. This move was a testament to the logo’s recognizability across the globe.
  4. Constant Since its Inception: Unlike many other global corporations, Nike has never altered its logo since its inception in 1971. This continuity displays the brand’s firm belief in its emblem, reinforcing the logo’s prominence and reliability.
  5. Its Designer was Later Rewarded: After the brand’s monumental success, Nike gave Carolyn Davidson 500 shares of the company as a token of appreciation. These shares have multiplied significantly over time, ensuring she was amply rewarded for her contribution.
  6. Widely Used by Nike’s Sub-Brands: The Swoosh logo does not only represent Nike, but also its several sub-brands like Air Jordan, Nike Golf, and more. This widespread use affirms the logo’s influence and adaptability across various products and segments.
  7. Featured in Different Styles: While the Swoosh itself hasn’t been altered, it has been showcased in various styles and colors across different campaigns and products – from solid black to neon, and from flat to 3D effects.
  8. First Use on a Shoe: The Swoosh made its debut on a soccer shoe named “Nike”, putting on display the brand and the logo simultaneously.
  9. Logo is a Major Part of Collaborative Collections: In collaborations with other brands or individuals, the Swoosh usually becomes a centerpiece of the design, proving its flexibility not only in color and style but also its role as a collaborative design element.

These fascinating facts showcase the extraordinary journey of Nike’s Swoosh logo, solidifying its status as a classic emblem in the branding world. Its simplicity, adaptability, and timeless relevance emphasize the power of minimalist design in effectively conveying a brand’s ethos.

Who Designed The Nike Logo?

Do you know the person behind the design of the most iconic emblem of Nike? The initial Nike logo is the work of Carolyn Davidson. She designed the logo in 1971 while she was a student at Portland State University, an institution where Phil Knight (one of Nike’s founder members) was an accounting professor.

Though the swoosh symbol is simple, the designer pocketed 35 USD! Ever since the design was conceived, it has evolved a few times. This article delves into the evolution of the Nike logo, its history, and why the logo is just but a simple tick. Read on!

Why Is The Nike Logo A Simple Tick?

Why Is The Nike Logo A Simple Tick

Most Nike lovers don’t understand the meaning of the Nike emblem. Don’t stress yourself over the issue. Did you know that even Nike’s founder member, Phil Knight, never comprehended the meaning of the swoosh symbol? Initially, Knight never liked the logo, but he adopted it since it was the only available option.

So, what was the reasoning behind the logo? Carolyn Davidson (a designer student behind the design) reasoned that the iconic swoosh symbol depicted the speed of sound. Before designing the Swoosh logo, the Nike company was known as ‘6th Dimension.’ The name changed to Nike courtesy of an employee who proposed it. 

Did you know that the word ‘Nike’ means a Greek goddess of victory? If you didn’t, now you know. Maybe, the brand became famous thanks to the ‘victory goddess.’ 

What Is The Meaning Of The Swoosh Symbol?

When Carolyn designed the logo, she had the Greek Goddess of victory in mind. When the logo first came into existence, it was referred to as ‘the strip.’ 

The logo might be simple, but it has made Nike a trustworthy brand globally. The logo symbolizes the fastest sound, motion, and speed, hence its arch shape that signifies movement.

Did you know that the Nike brand relies on its simple emblem for its corporate identity? Perhaps, it would be wise to delve into the elements that constitute the emblem to understand it better.

The Design Elements Of A Nike Logo

Why should a simple visual dominate the market? To the common eye, the tick symbol is a simple design. However, in the eyes of the designer, the design conveys a deeper and more inspirational meaning. Let’s walk with the designer and explore the elements used in the logo.

1. The Logo’s Shape

As simple as the tick might appear to an ordinary eye, the emblem’s shape is inspired by the wing of the iconic Greek victory Goddess. The shape is a testimony of how cultural and mythical backgrounds capture people’s minds through design.

2. The Logo’s Color

The Nike logo has appeared in several colors over time. Some of the iconic colors graced by the emblem are dense black and dull orange.

3. The Logo’s Font Type

Besides the iconic symbol, the name ‘Just Do It’ features elegant text. The font type used to write the slogan is undoubtedly Futura Bold. The word Nike also featured prominently alongside the logo until 1995. You may notice that the font has some minor tweaks, and the letter K is slanted a bit to enhance visibility and distinction.

The Evolvement Of The Nike Logo

Since the conception of the initial logo in 1971, the swoosh logo has undergone several changes. Listed below is the logo’s evolution from 1971 to date.

1971- The logo was conceptualized and designed by Carolyn Davidson, a design student at Portland State University. Though the design didn’t amuse Phil knight, he chose to go with it, hoping that it might appeal to his taste over time

1978– In 1978, the original cursive typeface was replaced by the Futura bold font. The Futura font boasts a more geometrical shape and is distinguished by how the letter ‘E’ runs into the tail of the symbol.

1985- The Nike logo experimented with enclosure inside a square for a brief time in 1985. During this period, the brand endorsed prominent athletes, among them Michael Jordan. Towards the end of the 1980s, the Nike brand coined its slogan ‘Just Do It.’

1995- The iconic Nike logo used to date was adopted in 1995. The emblem signifies speed and athleticism. The Nike symbol is among the world’s reputable logos though it appeals due to its simplicity.

A Brief History Of The Nike Brand

Nike started with a simple handshake between Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman in 1964. Each man invested $500 to the newly formed Company called ‘Blue Ribbon Sports,’ and they embarked on importing Tiger shoes from Japan. The imported shoes were primarily sold in America.

When the two gentlemen were establishing their business, Germany ruled in the supply of sports shoe brands to many athletes all over the globe who adored their products.

What Inspired The Birth And Popularity Of The Nike Brand?

The growth of the Nike brand and the tick logo didn’t achieve recognition by accident. The two founders of the Nike Company were running enthusiasts. While Bill Bowerman enjoyed running, he was also a reputable track-field trainer. Phil Knight, who also adored running, was in Bill’s track-field program.

Both men envisioned the improvement of shoe technology. Knight discovered that Japanese shoes could compete with leading world brands through research and dedication, more so German products.

On the other hand, Bowerman tried to make safe and cheap shoes for athletes, but his efforts flopped. It was not until he joined hands with Knight that his papers helped craft better shoes.

They established a solid partnership and Bang! Blue Ribbon Sports emerged. The Company grew in strength and unveiled its iconic Nike swoosh symbol in 1972, though the logo was designed in 1971. 

The Company’s reputation is due to two primary factors:

1. Bowerman and Knight never got tired of experimenting with shoes with emerging technology.

2. The sponsorship of famous athletes like Michael Jordan in the 1980s and their endorsements propelled the image of the Nike brand.

Facts About The Nike Brand

1. The Designer Of The Popular Nike Logo Was Paid Just $35 For Her Effort – Her design was rejected severely by Phil Knight. Still, he accepted it eventually as there was no better option.

However, despite the meager initial payment, Carolyn Davidson is the most highly paid logo designer in the world as she was later rewarded with 500 shares worth $18,000 in the Nike Company.

2. The Nike Logo Is An Inspiration Of The Greek Victory Goddess – Nike is a word derived from the Greek Goddess of Victory. The myth is that the Goddess led Greek warriors into numerous battles and emerged victoriously.

3. The Nike Slogan Is An Inspiration From The Serial Killer’s Last Words – The famous slogan ‘Just Do It’ is believed to be the last words of Dan Wieden, a serial killer, who said the words before his execution. 

Final Thought

The tick symbol that is a famous Nike logo is symbolic of the wing of a Greek Victory goddess. The logo was not welcomed warmly at first, but it has become popular among athletes and the general public. The logo’s popularity prompted the Nike brand to drop the Nike name since the tick or swoosh symbol identifies their products.


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