​From failed experiment to billion dollar fashion brand: Here’s how to ‘JUST DO IT’

Many global brands in the world today were built on an unusual story of patience, humility, sacrifice and doggedness: from Steve Job’s exploits building one of the world’s most valuable brands (Apple Inc.) right from a car garage, to the inspiring tale of how Strive Masiyiwa of Econet built a business empire which now generates a gigantic $3billion dollar annual revenue (He started from a meager $75 startup capital) and of course to the mind boggling account of how the 9 year old Makaila Ulmer landed a $11million dollar deal !!!

Catch up on all these super-hot brand stories here:




and here

This week on Brand Report, we bring to you the story of world famous fashion brand, Nike.
How it all began: The Experiment

Nike was co-founded by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. Bowerman was a track and field coach, It so happened that In the mid-1970’s, he started experimenting with his wife’s waffle maker, the essence was to design a better tread for running shoes. It was said that he ruined the waffle maker but in the process, he was able to invent a brand new type of shoe. This was where the famous Nike brand sprang from.

Nike however started from being a distributor to being a designer and manufacturer; in 1964, Knight contacted Tiger shoes in Japan to become a distributor, while Bowerman offered to contribute his footwear designs. Then with a simple handshake, and a personal contribution of $500 each, what will later become a life-long legendary transformation to the face of sport in the world was initiated. Bowerman and Knight kept their day jobs.

Knight began by selling shoes out of the trunk of his car, while Bowerman continued to rip off shoes so as to build upon the presently existing designs.

The company originally named Blue Ribbon Sport (BRS) was later transformed into Nike in 1971 as part of their rebranding strategy; the famous Nike swoosh logo was created by a student graphic designer Carolyn Davidson for a token of $35. Carolyn had no clue that his client company will soon become a global multibillion dollar power house.
This leads to the ultimate question: how exactly did Nike make the unprecedented quantum leap from local car-trunk business to a world famous fashion and entertainment brand?

Nike has spent millions of dollars to attract and retain fast rising and iconic athletes in the world to be the face of the brand. Today, Nike attributes much of its breakthroughs to the brand’s efficacious global marketing campaigns renowned for using sponsorship agreements with celebrity athletes, professional sports teams and college athletic teams to use their products and in return promote their technology and design. Till today, a large part of her marketing growth is attributable to these powerful endorsements.
Some of the global stars that have endorsed the Nike brand are:

Tiger Woods

the Stanford golfer who won an unprecedented third U.S. amateur title in the summer of 1996, 

Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho 

amongst others. It’s very possible that you are not yet financially capable to sign globally famous giants in your niche to increase your global reach. However, one thing you can do is to get reputable leaders in your community to patronize your brand. You can even give them for free simply because once they start using your brand, their followers will take note and follow suit.


Throughout Nike’s 50 year history, it has made waves with its entertaining and record breaking adverts. Here are some of its top ad campaigns over the years:
Just do it campaign

Launched in 1988, the ad helped Nike bounce back from a mid-decade slump.
Guerrilla tennis

In 1995, tennis rivals Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras were pictured in Nike ads playing tennis in New York City streets, called “one of the best 25 sports ads of all time” by ESPN.
Hello, world!

Tiger Woods was introduced as newbie golf pro in 1996 in an in-your-face advertisement.

Nike’s 2002 ad won a Best Commercial Emmy (the second for the brand) when it featured amateur and professional athletes displaying the human body in motion.
Bo knows

Nike’s Bo Jackson ads are considered some of the most memorable commercials of all time, celebrating Jackson’s athletic prowess in both football and baseball.


In 2005, Nike went viral with a YouTube video of Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho passing the ball to himself off the crossbar four consecutive times without touching the ground.
Find your greatness

Nike’s recent ad campaign of 2012 was a spin on the original Just Do It campaign; Find Your Greatness depicted the greatness everyone is capable of, featuring an overweight jogger and zero celebrity endorsements.

Nike has held-on firmly to her core values and founding mission by continually creating quality products for athletes with a focus on making them better. She has been able to preserve the founding ethos of Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman, who set out to make products that would serve and improve the performance of world class athletes.

At the outset, Nike aggressively sought out top, aspirational athletes to go break world records and win championships while in wears made by Nike. This method has worked over the years. The athletes come and go with time, but Nike has managed to continually find a way of making athletes inspirational beyond the realm of just athletics and sports fans.

Nike has partnered with her athletes to make brave and inspiring statements about germane issues like racism, cancer, AIDS and equality. This is an approach and counter intuitive leap that other sports brands have struggled to make. Nike continues to reach out for the best and most influential sport celebrities to propagate their brand.

Quality is rooted in Nike’s genes, ranging from her products to her marketing and advertising strategy. Irrespective of the industry you are navigating, Quality is always imperative, after attracting users to your brand via advertisement and other means; it’s the content and quality you offer them that makes them stay which further gives you continuous referral.
And don’t forget… 

Every big business started small. 

Don’t agonize over where you are, instead organize, strategize and mobilize like Nike. 

Now it’s your turn to apply these timeless lessons to boost your brand and improve your bottomline. Just like Nike’s popular slogan, there is no better time than now to apply these lessons. Quit giving excuses, quit whining and Just do it.

Published by Ogunbowale Olugbenga

Ogunbowale Olugbenga is a multiple award winning social entrepreneur & digital skills expert. An alumnus of the Leadership in Business Institute of Kellogg School of Management (USA), He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria). Inspired by the plight of millions of unemployed youths, Olugbenga founded Epower.ng, a digital agency passionately growing businesses & accelerating the application of digital skills for economic prosperity across Africa. To help institutions prevent scandals & promote performance, Gbenga founded Polivoice.Work, an anonymous employee feedback tool that captures & analyses feedback anonymously in real time to detect, predict & improve work place conditions. A Mandela Washington Fellow, Tony Elumelu Fellow, Royal Common wealth society fellow, YALI star of business & YALI network influencer, Olugbenga is the founder of Africa’s biggest orphanage outreach, The Orphan Empowerment Society, with a 5,000 strong volunteer force and a presence in 19 African countries empowering thousands of orphans with free vocational skills, medical care, & food. He is also the co-founder of the communication & leadership organization, Pacesetters Leadership Club.

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