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Nike: Brand Equity and Promotional Strategies Essay

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Updated: Jul 21st, 2021


Brand equity is vital for any company’s existence and presence on the market. Customers choose products based not on one but a variety of characteristics, and their decisions can be influenced by factors that are not related to the goods directly. For example, Keller (2001) describes a model of customer-based brand equity that includes one’s feelings towards the firm and the latter’s self-image. Thus, businesses have to continuously review their brand identity in order to see whether they are on the right course to growth and customer support (Campbell 2002; Ansary & Hashim 2018). One of the examples of industry leaders with a strong brand personality is Nike.

A company that sells sportswear and shoes, Nike offers its clients not just goods, but an experience and a certain status. However, its culture and brand can be improved further. This report will consider Nike’s current promotional strategies and identity presentation that the company uses to build brand equity. Moreover, the conducted research will be followed by recommendations that can help Nike to become the best in the industry.

Company Description

First of all, it is essential to consider Nike’s history and see from where its business image came. Nike was founded in 1964 under the name Blue Ribbon Sports in Oregon. Its creators Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight did not rename the company until 1978, although the first shoe line designed by the two men was designed in 1972 (About Nike n.d.). The business grew in the 1980s, expanding first throughout the United States and then introducing their products in other countries.

The company has reached a level of growth with the help of acquisitions – Cole Haan, Converse, Inc., and others. In the 1990s, Nike decided to create products for extreme conditions such as snowboarding and biking. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the business expanded further, now offering accessories for athletes such as heart-rate monitors and wrist compasses.

Currently, Nike’s range of products is vast, and its image is not limited to shoes. However, the company has managed to create a logo that is recognizable and simple. Most often called the ‘Swoosh’, Nike’s symbol carries a deep meaning that resonates with the brand’s personality and name. The name of the company, Nike, comes from the name of the goddess of victory from Ancient Greece. According to mythology, the winged goddess watched over people who went to battle, helping them to win.

Nike’s logo is a simplified version of the goddess’ wing, linking the desire for victory of athletes and warriors. The ‘Swoosh’ was designed by Caroline Davidson, a then student in advertising, in 1971 (Nike history and timeline n.d.). The logo is now present on all products of Nike, and its meaning, while not apparent, is still supported by the company’s promotional strategies.

Nike’s place in the industry of sportswear and accessories is also important in discussing its brand equity. According to Wolf (2018), Nike can be considered one of the biggest fashion brands, as well as the leading sportswear brand, in the whole world. It is remarkable that these two positions are taken up by one company, meaning that the business’s brand image is multifaceted to appeal to different groups of customers. Therefore, one should look at the multiple sides of Nike’s identity, acknowledging its entrance into both sportswear and high fashion.

Brand’s Identity, Personality, and Current Promotional Strategies

To form an understanding of Nike’s brand, one can start by examining the name chosen for the company. The name of the goddess that is currently in use by Nike aligns with the other campaigns that the business chooses to present. The name, representing an entity that brings victory, is significant to the initial and the most popular sphere in which the brand competes – sportswear (Yang 2017). While, at the present moment, many people not interested in sports also purchase and wear Nike products, the company is still focused on athletes – professional and amateur alike (Mamangkey, Lapian & Tumbuan 2017). Therefore, the name is symbolic of the nature that most sports possess – rivalry and championship.

The name and the logo are supported by another fundamental part of Nike’s personality – the main slogan. The company’s ‘Swoosh’ became accompanied with the phrase ‘Just Do It’ in 1988, and the success of these words resulted in the company adopting it as an integral part of all branding (Goudreau 2017). The phrase, similar to the logo, is simple and memorable. Moreover, it encompasses enough meaning to be used in a variety of circumstances.

For example, it can be meaningful for both starting sportspersons who are afraid to take the first step and professionals who need encouragement before a competition. As a result, the slogan both appeals to multiple audiences and unites them, thus creating some cohesion in the message and the audience.

Another link that binds the world of professional sports and people’s perception of their own abilities is Nike’s collaboration with popular athletes. In previous campaigns, Nike worked with major basketball players (Michael Jordan, LeBron James), tennis players (Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova), and other professionals with a level of international celebrities (O’Neill 2017). These people were invited to share their personal stories and past failures to underline that achievements depend on labor and commitment.

By personalizing each experience and relating it to eventual victory, Nike connected its products to success, showing its customers that, in order to win, one cannot simply buy and wear Nike shoes, but these shoes are the choice of winners. This focus is crucial in constructing Nike’s inspirational personality. Nike’s advertising does not state that its products lead to victories without effort, thus avoiding the risk of making impossible promises to its clients. Instead, the company’s image is improved because it is what people who continue to achieve new heights prefer.

Using Keller’s Customer-Based Brand Equity Model (CBBE) for analyzing Nike, one can see that the imagery of the brand heavily relies on the stories of success described above (Qiao & Wang 2017). However, the company goes further, using new athletes to showcase a different side of the world of sports. Some recent advertising campaigns represent players and sportspersons who do not have access to the same level of popularity as others.

For example, Nike has partnered with Muslim women who wear hijabs in public, including the times when they compete in sports. Apart from creating advertisements, the business collaborated with Muslim athletes to design a sports hijab that would be comfortable for women to wear in challenging environments (O’Neill 2017). Here, another side of Nike’s inspirational image is revealed. Nike does not limit itself to being a luxury brand, a tactic that many businesses employ to attract buyers with high income and a desire for high-quality limited access goods (Lim et al. 2012). As a contrast, the company turns its view to people of different backgrounds, highlighting the accessibility of sports and its products, as an outcome.

Here, the ‘feelings’ part of the CBBE can be reviewed for Nike. The business has chosen to pursue inspiration as the core of all emotional responses to Nike’s goods. The slogan ‘Just Do It’ is formulated to represent universal human experiences, encouraging people from different spheres and interests to become involved with the brand. The idea of inspiration is the foundation of Nike’s brand equity, and it attracts a wide variety of customers. In regards to the sports industry, everyone from a professional athlete to a person wishing to visit the gym can be affected by this message (Su & Tong 2015). Thus, Nike has successfully linked its brand to performance enhancement, success, professionalism, and growth.

Nonetheless, there exists another view of Nike where it is perceived as fashionable, modern, and ‘cool’. The company used another set of activities to reach this position and acquire a position in the niche of stylish athleisure. First of all, while Nike has a basic line of shoes and clothes that are posed as comfortable, it also experiments with new materials, designs and concepts. Here, it is vital to remember that Nike is now a large firm that has a following of an international level.

Therefore, its choice to introduce new and unconventional products does not pose the same risk as it would for smaller organizations. Nike’s collaboration with designers and its expansion to the world of high fashion is a step to increase its audience. At the present time, Nike has worked with such high-fashion designers as Rei Kawakubo, Errolson Hugh, Craig Green, John Elliott, Kim Jones, Matthew Williams, Riccardo Tisci, and others. These creators agreed to work with a sports brand because they were most probably encouraged to explore their style and introduce innovative ideas.

This effort of Nike led to the creation of a different image for the company. Nike is not only inspirational and professional; it is also stylish and luxurious. Thus, Nike entered the market for luxury products without sacrificing its well-established audience of sports enthusiasts (Moore Doherty & Doyle 2010). This step allowed Nike to reach out to more celebrities as well as their fans. Young people who care about fashion are now acquainted with Nike as a brand that well-established designers, models, and performers recommend and represent (Sasmita & Suki 2015).

Interestingly, the initial image of the company established as early as the 1990s did not disappear as a result of these changes. Nike still creates inspirational campaigns and values athletes, using both traditional and social media to help these groups find the content and goods in which they are interested.

In order to see how this segmentation practice helps Nike maintain the interest of its various audiences, one may examine Nike’s social media accounts as well as its website and applications. On platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, Nike gives its readers an opportunity to follow different accounts with a narrow focus – Nike Women, Nike Basketball, and others. In this way, people who may be overwhelmed or uninterested in all Nike content can engage with each post in a meaningful way (Ramaswamy & Ozcan 2016).

Nike’s use of social media shows that the company knows how to use new technology to deliver its messages (Granitz & Forman 2015). Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter permit companies to advertise to specific groups of people (Yan 2011; Bruhn, Schoenmueller & Schäfer 2012). Nike is utilizing this opportunity with its social media marketing.

Its campaigns, however, are not always universally approved by all audiences. A recent advertisement featuring the former NFL quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick demonstrated Nike’s preparedness to make some explicit statements about its image.

The company took a calculated risk of losing the audience that opposed Kaepernick. Nevertheless, Nike’s market value grew by about $6 billion, and it gained new supporters and strengthened its relationship with the existing ones (Crowl 2018). While this decision was controversial, it was targeted at its core audience and increased brand recognition, sparking discussions among internet users. As a result, the exposure that Nike gained after this advertisement did not significantly alter the company’s imagery since it stayed true to its core message ‘Just Do It’.

Key Recommendations

The investigation into Nike’s brand identity shows that the business has solidified its foundation and chosen what messages it wants to send to the audience. Thus, one may say that Nike’s current strategy is stable enough to move the company forward. Nonetheless, some recommendations may be provided to enhance and maintain Nike’s performance in the market. First of, last year, Nike’s employees expressed some concerns regarding the company’s neglect of reports of workplace conduct and inappropriate behavior (LaVito 2018).

As a result, Nike’s image suffered in the eyes of some customers. In order to eliminate this problem and stop the conflict from escalating and damaging the brand’s equity further, Nike should restructure its bureaucratic procedures and allows employees to contribute with meaningful feedback. While this action would not influence marketing directly, it would raise the company’s image and remove negative feelings towards the brand (McQuiston 2004).

Second, the company should be ready for a decline in brand power since the market’s competition levels continue to increase. The first recommendation is tied to Nike’s continuous collaboration with popular athletes (Do, Ko & Woodside 2015). Nike’s previous advertisements created a strong association between the brand and Michael Jordan, a player whose name is still recognized. However, Nike needs to find other figures whose image will inspire and influence a younger audience since the goal of Nike is to appeal to young customers. Campaigns that feature aspiring athletes are advantageous to a degree, but they do not create any memorable links for people less interested in particular sports.

Third, Nike should continue featuring women and other underrepresented communities in order to interest and grow new client groups. Here, the increase in attention to women’s professional sportswear is highlighted – if Nike is able to address women’s needs in sports, the company will gain a significant number of new loyal buyers (Zhang 2018). Nike has to focus on customization and less on aggressive selling, making women feel as though their purchases are closely related to their individual needs.

In a contrast, young men are less interested in specific styles and models and more intrigued by the opportunities of combining clothes and technology. Nike already offers some shoes that connect to a smartphone. Furthermore, Nike has an application that helps one to track their running distance and speed and connect with other runners. A recommendation would be to implement more device-focused products for customers.

The fifth and sixth suggestions are connected to social media use. Nike already utilizes some features of the modern platforms, and its advertisements tackle contemporary political issues. Nonetheless, the politicization of advertisements may continue to alienate Nike’s customers. It is essential for Nike to use such moves in moderation, since the audience interested in social issues may be disappointed if Nike does not have an in-depth understanding of the messages that it expresses in its adverts (Gürhan, Hayran & Sarial-Abi 2016). A possible movement towards which Nike can go is sustainability – the rising trend of ecological awareness is a positive cause that may attract new unexplored customer groups (Nike, Inc. 2017).


At the moment, Nike maintains a strong position in the industries of sportswear and fashion. Its brand equity is rooted in inspiration and professionalism through self-improvement. The image of the company is strongly associated with major athletes and people who pursue their dreams. Nonetheless, the growing competitiveness of both markets (sport and fashion) may weaken Nike’s power and the loyalty of its customers.

The main recommendations for Nike are to review its internal processes, pay attention to female customers, introduce more technology-focused products, and revise its approach to social media advertising in avoiding oversaturation of political messages and shifting the focus on environmental protection.

Reference List

About Nike n.d. Web.

Ansary, A & Hashim, NMHN 2018, ‘Brand image and equity: the mediating role of brand equity drivers and moderating effects of product type and word of mouth’, Review of Managerial Science, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 969-1002.

Bruhn, M, Schoenmueller, V & Schäfer, DB 2012, ‘Are social media replacing traditional media in terms of brand equity creation?’, Management Research Review, vol. 35, no. 9, pp. 770-790.

Campbell, MC 2002, ‘Building brand equity (a presentation given at the Medical Marketing Association Annual Conference)’, Journal of Medical Marketing, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 208-218.

Crowl, J 2018, , Skyworld. Web.

Do, H, Ko, E & Woodside, AG 2015, ‘Tiger Woods, Nike, and I are (not) best friends: how brand’s sports sponsorship in social-media impacts brand consumer’s congruity and relationship quality, International Journal of Advertising, vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 658-677.

Goudreau, E 2017, . Web.

Granitz, N & Forman, H 2015, ‘Building self-brand connections: exploring brand stories through a transmedia perspective’, Journal of Brand Management, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 38-59.

Gürhan-Canli, Z, Hayran, C & Serial-Abi, G 2016, ‘Customer-based brand equity in a technologically fast-paced, connected, and constrained environment’, AMS review, vol. 6, no. 1-2, pp. 23-32.

Keller, KL 2001, ‘Building customer-based brand equity: a blueprint for creating strong brands’, Marketing Management, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 14-19.

LaVito, A 2018, ‘’, CNBC. Web.

Lim, WM, Ting, DH, Khoo, PT & Wong, WY 2012, ‘Understanding consumer values and socialization—a case of luxury products’, Management & Marketing, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 209-220.

Mamangkey, CM, Lapian, SLHVL & Tumbuan, WJFA 2017, ‘The influence of brand personality on consumer purchase intention of Nike sportswear products in Manado’, Jurnal EMBA, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 455-463.

McQuiston, DH 2004, ‘Successful branding of a commodity product: the case of RAEX LASER steel’, Industrial Marketing Management, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 345-354.

Moore, CM, Doherty, AM & Doyle, SA 2010 ‘Flagship stores as a market entry method: the perspective of luxury fashion retailing’, European Journal of Marketing, vol. 44, no. 1/2, pp. 139-161.

n.d. Web.

Nike, Inc. 2017, FY16/17 sustainable business report. Web.

O’Neill, S 2017, ‘’, Skyword. Web.

Qiao, L & Wang, H 2017, ‘Building a strong customer-brand relationship from CBBE’, Advances in Economics, Business and Management Research, vol. 37, pp. 449-455.

Ramaswamy, V & Ozcan, K 2016, ‘Brand value co-creation in a digitalized world: an integrative framework and research implications’, International Journal of Research in Marketing, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 93-106.

Sasmita, J & Suki, NM 2015, ‘Young consumers’ insights on brand equity: effects of brand association, brand loyalty, brand awareness, and brand image’, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 276-292.

Su, J & Tong, X 2015, ‘Brand personality and brand equity: evidence from the sportswear industry’, Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 124-133.

Wolf, C 2018, ‘“’, GQ. Web.

Yan, J 2011, ‘Social media in branding: fulfilling a need’, Journal of Brand Management, vol. 18, no. 9, pp. 688-696.

Yang, Q 2017, . Web.

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Appendix 1

  • Salience: Nike’s sportswear is perceived as high-quality well-designed clothes for sports and everyday use.
  • Performance: High technical performance of all products.
  • Imagery: Nike’s ‘Swoosh’ logo is linked to status, fashion and association with major athletes (professionalism and victory).
  • Judgement: The combination of high quality, innovation and collaboration with athletes earns customer’s trust.
  • Feelings: Nike’s campaigns are based on inspiration. The main slogan ‘Just Do It’ is simple but emotional
  • Resonance: Loyalty to the company comes from regular customers and athletes due to performance and brand imagery.

Appendix 2

  • Physique: Nike’s ‘Swoosh’ is widely known and easy to recognise. Designs with this logo are minimal, clean, and modern.
  • Personality: The tone of Nike’s branding is inspirational – athletes and people who love sports are encouraged with personal stories. The focus is both on winning and overcoming personal obstacles to achieve new heights.
  • Culture: The company values innovation in product design as well as sustainability in production. However, some recent conflicts due to workplace conduct and the lack of attention to employee complaints raise concerns about the business’ culture (LaVito 2018).
  • Relationship: Apart from receiving goods for sports and everyday wear, clients can use Nike’s apps for running and exercise and receive customer support. Thus, people are encouraged to continue using Nike products. Some product options are customisable, making the clients believe that their input is important and their role in a purchase is substantial.
  • Reflection: Nike’s clients are diverse, but its products appeal to active young people, aspiring, amateur and professional athletes, and individuals focused on fashion.
  • Self-Image: Through advertising, Nike fosters an image of a winner who achieves goals by working hard and overcoming challenges. An ideal identity is that of a self-made person who is powerful, strong, positive, energetic, and intellectual.

Appendix 3

Pillar Goals
Financial Reduce costs Increase profits Increase share of the market
Customers Improve clients’ experience Strengthen the position of the industry’s leader Offer experiences with a lasting effect
Internal Business Processes Solve conflicts of misconduct and harassment Improve production quality Reduce waste/Implement new sustainable practices
Learning and Growth Introduce opportunities for workers’ feedback Improve corporate culture Create new programs for underrepresented communities

Appendix 4

Therefore, it is recommended that Nike:
R 1: improves internal business processes
R 2: attracts younger customers with new popular athletes
R 3: appeals to women’s specific professional needs
R 4: considers new technology-based products
R 5: avoids political advertising without in-depth research
R 6: focuses on environmental concerns
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