Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Nike Swoosh: the story of the legendary logo

Nike sneakers and, in particular, the comma logo, called Swoosh, first appeared in 1972 during the qualifying competitions in athletics for the Olympic Games. The logo was developed by a student of the University of Portland, Carolyn Davidson, who was working as a designer at that time.

Carolyn Davidson and Nike Swoosh

The girl met Nike founder Phil Knight during accounting courses, in which he was a part-time teacher. Then the company, called Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), was just about to launch its first sneakers into production. To do this, it was necessary to create a memorable logo, which is what Carolyn did as a freelancer.

Phil Knight set the task to create a dynamic and well-remembered icon that would powerfully announce a new company and favorably distinguish it from competitors. Phil did not hide that his ambitions extended at least to competition with adidas, which he eventually proved by founding the famous empire of American sportswear and shoes.

How was Swoosh created?

According to legend, after several attempts to draw the final sketch of the Nike Sportswear Swoosh, Carolyn crossed out the last unsuccessful drawing with a pencil in her heart. This became a kind of insight and formed the basis of the famous Nike logo, which remains unchanged to this day.

Nike Swoosh conveys the figurative whistle of the wind at high speed, being a symbol of fast and continuous movement. Regarding the interpretation of the logo itself, according to Carolyn Davidson, the line depicts the wing of the goddess of victory Νίκη. In honor of this, the brand got its name, but, of course, from the filing of founder Phil Knight.

7 facts about “Swoosh”

  1. As already mentioned, Swoosh logo was developed by a student of the Faculty of Graphic Design at the University of Portland. Few people know, but the designer received a very modest reward of $35 for her work.
  2. Phil Knight did not remain in debt and acted like a gentleman. In 1983, he presented Caroline with a diamond ring with a Swoosh and an envelope with company shares. In terms of money, the gift is estimated at more than $1 million.
  3. According to Carolyn Davidson, the logo was created 17 hours in a row. It was extremely difficult for her to come up with a noticeable and concise design. After several attempts, the designer almost despaired, but in the end she achieved her goal.
  4. The founder of Nike absolutely did not like the first draft of Swoosh, which he had no desire to buy. But still, at the general council, it was decided to use the logo, which later became the right decision. An important role in this was played by Carolyn herself, who convinced her of the correctness of the choice.
  5. The English translation of Swoosh means a whistle, and is also interpreted as something dynamic. For example, “I’m going to… swoosh… grab the young lord” or “I’m going to… take a run… to win the young lord!”.
  6. When creating the Nike symbol, the designer and Phil Knight’s actual wishes were guided by adidas. The latter really liked the simple idea of three stripes and he wanted to have something similar at home.
  7. For a long time after its appearance, Nike Swoosh was depicted exclusively in red, which symbolized energy, passion and joy. And the white background denoted purity and nobility. Today this is not a matter of principle — you can meet completely different color versions. For example, you can find Air Force sneakers with interchangeable Swooshes of any shades and create your own unique design of sneakers.
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