the Nike Logo

Why the Nike Logo is a Tick: A Deep Dive into the Iconic Design

The Nike logo is a tick because the simple design represents the spirit of movement and speed. The tick design, commonly called the “Swoosh,” is inspired by the Greek goddess of victory. The logo’s curved shape signifies movement and the notion of progress. It embodies motion and the drive to achieve fitness, sports, and life excellence. This page will explore the deep history of the Nike logo and its various interpretations.

Key Takeaways

  • The Nike logo, also called the “Swoosh,” was inspired by Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.
  • The logo represents the spirit of movement and speed.
  • The logo is an iconic symbol of athletic excellence.
  • The logo symbolizes the brand’s commitment to excellence, innovation, and social responsibility.
  • The logo represents the drive to achieve excellence in sports, fitness, and life.

The History Behind the Nike Brand

The Nike brand was founded in 1964 under the name “Blue Ribbon Sports” by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. The company started as a distributor of Onitsuka Tiger shoes, a Japanese footwear brand.

The Blue Ribbon Sports brand launched its footwear line in 1971, giving birth to the Nike brand. The name “Nike” was inspired by the Greek goddess of victory. The company focused on designing and marketing its sports shoes, establishing its identity.

Phil Knight, an accounts professor at Portland States University, tapped into the talent of a graphic design student, Carolyne Davidson, to design the logo. Carolyn designed the iconic “Swoosh” logo after drawing inspiration from the wing of the Greek goddess of victory.

Over time, the Nike brand has become a global brand boasting a wide range of athletic footwear, apparel, and accessories. Today, Nike is among the most valuable brands globally.

The Reason Why the Nike Logo is a Tick

Nike Logo

The Nike logo (the Swoosh) is one of the most successful logos in the 20th century. The logo is sleek and powerful, and the symbol represents motion and agility. The simple tick resembles the wing of the ancient Greek goddess of victory, “Nike.”

When Phil Knight tasked Carolyn Davidson to design the Logo, the Nike co-founder instructed her that he wanted a simple logo with a different appearance from the Adidas logo. She embarked on designing a symbol of movement as instructed by Phil.

She made the logo different from Adidas’ three-line logo by making hers a single curved line originally called the “Strip.” We have already learned that the “strip” represented the Greek goddess’ wing.

How the “Strip” Became the “Swoosh”

Carolyn’s design was originally called the “Strip” but later became known as the “Swoosh.” Swoosh refers to movement, agility, and the sound made when something moves quickly past our side. Also, the fibers used in the Nike shoe back then were known as “Swoosh.”

The Meaning Behind the Nike Logo

The Nike logo has a simple yet powerful meaning. Besides the design representing movement and speed, the logo is versatile and embodies the brand’s spirit of innovation, performance, and excellence.

The logo’s curved tick depicts motion and the notion of progress. The “Swoosh” represents energy and momentum, and it evokes the sensation of speed and agility. The logo also symbolizes Nike’s resolve to push the limits of what’s possible.

Consumers also have varying interpretations of the Nike logo. While some view the logo as a symbol of courage, others associate it with the brand’s association with top athletes and sports teams.

Development of the “Swoosh” Logo

While designing the “Swoosh” in 1971, Carolyn Davidson was a student at Portland State University. Phil Knight, a professor at the university and the co-founder of Nike, met her by chance and assigned her the task of designing the Nike Logo.

Carolyn crafted several designs, but they didn’t impress Phil. When she sketched the “Swoosh” shape in just a few strokes, it caught Phil’s eye, and he asked her to develop the concept further.

She took 17.5 hours to design the logo, and voila! The Nike “Swoosh” was born. Although Phil initially disliked the design, he felt it would appeal to him with time. The design earned her $35 as she worked at $2 per hour.

Evolution of the Nike Logo

The Nike logo has evolved over time. However, the tick (Swoosh) has maintained its presence in all evolutions since 1971.

Here is how the logo has evolved:

1971 – 1978


In 1971, Carolyn Davidson designed the logo, a tick with the text “Nike” written in a cursive serif typeface. The logo was used until 1978 when it underwent a minor change.

1978 – 1985

The initial cursive serif typeface was replaced in 1978 by the Futura Bold typeface. The new font featured a more geometric shape, and the edge of the letter “E” ran into the tick’s tail.

1985 – 1995

The motto “Just Do It” was introduced in the 1980s. The slogan was inspired by the final words Gary Gilmore, a murderer on death row, uttered before he was executed.

The Nike logo was inside a square briefly in 1985, but it lasted a short time, and Nike started endorsing famous athletes, with Michael Jordan taking the lead.

1995 to-Date

image 1

The current logo, a lone Swoosh, was conceptualized in 1985. The logo symbolizes athleticism, speed, and quality. The Nike logo is a symbol of simplicity, but it is among the most recognized globally.

The Impact of the Nike Logo

The Nike logo significantly impacts the athletic industry and popular culture. The logo has helped to propel Nike as one of the most recognizable brands globally.

 Below is how the Nike Logo has had an impact:

1.     Association with Top Athletes and Sports Teams

Nike has partnered with iconic athletes, such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Serena Williams, to design signature shoe lines and apparel collections.

The logo is synonymous with athletic excellence, and the brand’s endorsement deals have shaped the landscape of modern sports marketing.

2.     Fashion and Streetwear culture

Nike cape

The brand’s sneakers and apparel are embraced by consumers globally and have become a symbol of style and self-expression. You can see the Nike logo on everything from hoodies and T-shirts to high-end designer collaborations. The brand has become a staple of modern fashion.

3.     Cultural Impact

The Nike logo has a cultural impact. The brand’s “Just Do It” catchphrase inspires people globally to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential. Generally, the Nike logo is a symbol of empowerment and motivation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Nike Logo So Popular?

The Nike logo is popular due to its simple yet powerful design and association with athletic excellence and empowerment. The Swoosh logo has become a symbol of the brand’s values and mission.

What Inspired the Nike Logo Design?

The Greek goddess of victory inspired the Nike logo. The design was created by Carolyn Davidson in 1971 and represents the speed of movement and speed.

Final Thoughts

The Nike logo is a simple design that has become an iconic symbol of athletic excellence, innovation, and empowerment. The logo’s meaning and impact have transcended the athletic apparel industry, shaping popular culture and inspiring people globally to pursue their dreams and reach their potential.


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