Monday, August 3, 2009

Did the most ubiquitous symbol in sports, the Nike Swoosh, cost only $35 to design?

On Sunday, Tiger Woods captured his 69th PGA tournament victory by winning the Buick Open held at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, Michigan --
- a truly amazing achievement!

For all of his accomplishments, great and small,
there has been one constant companion in his strive for golf immortality.'s not his mother Tida.'s not his wife Elin or his Sam or Charlie.

Here's a hint: it is featured in the photo above and has been intertwined with his legacy since signing a five-year, $40-million dollar contract with this company in August 1996 shortly after turning professional. is the Nike "Swoosh."

The design can be seen daily and nightly from the footwear of baseball and basketball players to the jerseys of college football teams.

But is it true that the "Swoosh" only cost $35 for Phil Knight, founder of Nike, to have designed?

The short answer is......YES!

In 1971, Carolyn Davidson was a student at Portland State University when she was approached by Phil Knight, then a teacher at an accounting class (as a means to supplement his income). The young graphic design student was working on a design project when she was approached in the hallway for her help. She obliged.

Trying to work on a shoe stripe, she came up with a symbol that looked like the wing of the goddess, Nike. Phil Knight did not love it, but used it because shoe boxes in Mexico were waiting to be printed and he needed to meet his deadline.

The original invoice for her work was $35, and she was paid in full by Knight.

But did this young designer lose out on millions of dollars for this symbol of sports marketing dominance? Did corporate American steal from the weak and profit from its hard work?


In September 1983, as Nike's prominence started building, she was invited to a luncheon and greeted by Phil Knight and presented with a gold Swoosh ring embedded with a diamond and an envelope containing Nike stock. (As she has mentioned, she has split the stock at least 3 times and is certainly doing well with herself.)

As you can see below:
the Nike logo has gone through changes throughout the years, but one thing remains the same. Its brand power is unmatched in today's sports world!


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