Swoosh! 5 Branding Game-Changers Inspired by Nike

Just Do It.

You know the slogan; it’s quite possibly one of the most iconic messages the advertising world has ever heard. It’s a powerful, magical message we use to push and inspire each other. It’s all about an attitude of can’t stop, won’t stop, get the job done, don’t doubt yourself, and achieve your dreams. So how did Nike manage to create such impact with such a tiny little phrase? “Just do it:” three words, three syllables, and their customer understands the Nike world, where:

  • Ambition is an asset.
  • Drive is a requirement.
  • Willpower and the grit to trudge through is a necessity.

There are countless ways Nike has remained relevant through the decades, but there is no more important key to their success than their constant focus on the future. Check out five ways this record-breaking shoe manufacturer transcended their niche market and took over the athletic world.

“Quit making excuses, putting it off, complaining about it, dreaming about it, whining about it, crying about it, believing you can’t, worrying if you can, waiting until you’re older, skinnier, richer, braver, or all around better. Suck it up, hold on tight, say a prayer, make a plan & just do it.”Nike

1. Tell an Amazing Story.
Nike is notorious for commercials that make the viewer feel like they can take on the world. Typically dark and a little moody, their commercials feature a commanding beat that accompanies slow-motion athletes tearing up the fields. You know what to do before the tagline even appears.

I’m forever inspired by Nike’s ability to reach the hearts, minds, and ultimately the homes of consumers. Although my own story isn’t one of astounding athletic achievement, I have found that I can utilize the same sort of inspirational themes to fuel my own business greatness. At one point in my life, I was sitting in a cubicle, pecking away at the keyboard, and contemplating where I was compared to where I wanted to be in my career. It felt as though my real goals were too big to accomplish, but in true Nike fashion, I figured I had to just shut out all the noise telling me I couldn’t and all the fear that fought to hinder my drive.

It was like a Nike commercial. With sweat dripping down my face (the A/C was out at the office), I put on my best thousand-yard stare of determination, shoved back my ergonomic office chair, and shouted “no more!” Then I sat back down and finished the day. What? Don’t judge me. I was ready for change but smart enough to not just walk out of a job with no Plan B. But you better believe that when I got home that night I busted out my brainstorming jumpman headband and finally got around to creating the visual outlines I would need to get my dream up and running.

Nike tells amazing stories through its marketing – stories that celebrate triumph over adversity. Although their commercials may be targeted toward athletes, the messages are relatable to the world. When it comes to your own marketing strategies, make sure you’re telling a story that’s universally compelling but consistently on-brand.


2. Price Yourself Right.

Nike recently faced controversy with their line of “Lebron X” athletic shoes. Customers and retailers alike scoffed at the incredibly high price point, especially against the stark background of a dwindling economy. But they stood strong by their pricing strategy and ended up appearing to be a brand that was confident in themselves. Nike’s risk paid off; the crazy-priced Lebrons strengthened their customer loyalty.

In my business, the cost for services are not cheap. It’s not arbitrary; we invest in the best products and people to create high-caliber programs. In the beginning, I was a little anxious and considered lowering my price to appeal to more consumers. Looking to Nike’s model, I decided to stand firm. I let my programs speak for themselves and allowed my clients to experience their effectiveness. When they saw what the investment could do for their business models, they not only jumped on board with the pricing, but also let other like-minded individuals know that it was worth the investment.

“It’s alright to be Goliath, but always act like David.”Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike

3. Keep it Simple.

There’s a good reason Nike went with a three-word tagline – it’s simple, memorable, and to the point. There’s no time to waste when it comes to connecting with customers, especially in an oversaturated market. Try it yourself – boil down your message and keep your voice in just three key words. They don’t have to form a complete sentence or even really make sense – just aim to find those keywords that describe your brand and go from there.

To come up with a raging slogan for my business, emulating Nike’s model of short, memorable, and to the point became my sole focus. In fact, I was so committed to the rule that I used “short, memorable, and to the point” as my dating profile description and that is how I won over the love of my life. When I was nervous about asking for my lady’s hand in marriage, I just looked down at my Air Jordans, let out a breath of determination, and said to myself, “just do it.” Short, memorable, and to the point can work in mysterious ways.

As for my personal brand, I went with the phrase “most epic life.” These words encompass what I want for myself and remind me of what I need to do to achieve it. I love that it draws me back to the present moment and demands that I think of things I can do right now to be living my most epic life. Your slogan should be your personal inspirational battle-cry.


4. Establish Exclusivity with Limited Edition Products.

When Nike announced they would be making the self-tying shoe from the cult-classic Back to the Future II, the internet rejoiced in chorus with a nerdy hallelujah. Nike teased the new product in a short promotional video, which featured the actors from the film and turned the shoe line release into its own event. There’s something really special about adding that “limited edition” tag to your products.

My business only accepts a few success-minded companies seeking to jump-start their ventures. Although a big part of my rationale is my desire to give each program participant the individualized attention they deserve, it’s also because I learned the lesson Nike figured out a long time ago – people will work harder to get something if there’s a limited quantity available. My clients know that I won’t forfeit quality just to fit in a few more interested people. My programs maintain a level of exclusivity. People like being in a private club and will wait in line to get in.

Nike knows that if everyone has the exact same shoes, people wouldn’t really want them anymore. But if you’re one of only a small number of people to be able to get the shoes, you feel special. Being selective creates demand and doesn’t require that you skimp out on quality to try to make an extra buck.

Try to find ways to establish exclusivity by releasing products for a limited time (and mean it when you say it). Not only will this promote hype and bring in eager customers, it will also give your business the edge it needs to be taken seriously as a brand.

“Play by the rules, but be ferocious.”Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike

5. Share the Success.

The Nike+Accelator Project is a creative lab that allows companies to participate in developing future projects using a digital platform. By establishing this creative lab, Nike has played a part in ushering the next great entrepreneurial innovators into the market. Apply the same strategies to your business by creating a model that fosters creativity with your professional peers while allowing you to be in the driver’s seat.

This is exactly the model I have for my business and it absolutely 100% works. I help healthcare professionals start their own ventures, and I am able to assist, support, and encourage their progress. I also work closely with peers in the startup crew, to kick around ideas and offer advice to help them reach their audience. Being a part of these networks keeps me involved and educated on the latest and greatest innovations in the field. It also puts me in a position to identify and shift strategies to ensure forward momentum.


Final thoughts:
  • Tell an amazing story. It doesn’t have to be as incredible as David and Goliath, but everyone has a story to tell. Properly delivered, your story will let people know all you have overcome to accomplish your dreams and find success.
  • Keep it simple. Find Your Phrase. Keep your manta short and to the point. Make it impactful and personify it. Remember that extra words are just distractions.
  • Price Yourself Right. Don’t undersell yourself. Stick to your price point and allow your product quality speak its value.
  • Establish Exclusivity. If everyone has it, no one wants it. Be exclusive by offering products for a short time or by only selling to a select few. When things are harder to get, people will work harder (and pay more) to get them.
  • Share the Success. Support the up-and-coming innovators of your field. It will help you stay current in your market niche and inspire your own creativity.

If you’ve been struggling with branding technique, let Nike be your coach. Share your amazing story and make it a motto to live by. Find your product and don’t sell yourself short; giving away your products won’t create lasting hype. Keep your business filled with all-star quality colleagues and let consumers know what you have to offer is too good to mass produce. People want what they can’t have, and that is what keeps them coming back for more. Nike has been the defending world champion in their market for years. Learn from their strategies and bring your A-game to the branding court.