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The Story Of The Nike Swoosh Logo

It’s rare to find those who don’t recognize the familiar and iconic Nike swoosh logo that we’ve grown to love over the years that it’s been around, and although the story of how the logo came around is common, the little details are usually left out. Although you may know that Carolyn Davidson was the graphic designer who created the iconic logo, not many know her story or how she came to create the legendary logo. 

This story is one that has inspired graphic designers around the world and been the inspiration for many logos after. That’s why, in this article, we’ll cover all areas of the story, detailing facts about the logo, the designer, and the story behind the iconic Nike Swoosh Logo. 

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How Did The Nike Swoosh Logo Originate? 

In 1971, a graphic design student at Portland State University named Carolyn Davidson was the one to create the ingenious Nike logo. At the time she knew Phil Knight, who knew that she in need of some extra cash to take a class and offered to hire her at the rate of $2 an hour to do some extra work on the side for him. After Knight decided that he was ready to begin his own line of athletic shoes, he knew that he would be in need of a logo. 

Knight turned down four of Davidson’s designs before accepting the Nike swoosh, saying at the time, “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me.” Davidson spent over 17 hours working on the logo and in payment received $35 from Knight. That was when the legendary Nike Swoosh logo came around. Davidson came up with the iconic logo that’s now seen on every pair of Nike’s and the story of Carolyn Davidson’s work has been widespread. 

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Facts About The Nike Swoosh Logo 

Besides being iconic for the fact that the logo cost a mere $35, it also has other interesting facts that not many people know about. One of these is that the logo was inspired by the Greek Goddess of victory. Nike is actually named after her as well and her wings are said to be called swoosh, therefore signifying the Nike swoosh logo. 

Although we’re used to seeing the legendary logo in black now, few remember that it wasn’t always black. For a long time, the logo used a red and white palette. The thought behind the color scheme was to evoke certain feelings through the logo and have customers associate it with nobility and charm. However, the color scheme changed to a more sleek black and white. 

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The only thing that may be equally as famous as Nike’s logo is their tagline, Just Do It. Although the slogan is associated with the company and, of course, Nike’s logo, the story of where it came from isn’t as popular. According to Dan Wieden, who pitched the slogan idea to Nike, the slogan was inspired by a serial killer’s last words.

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Carolyn Davidson 

Although we hear about Carolyn Davidson’s time when she created the Nike swoosh logo, we don’t often hear her story before or after designing it. Davidson received a bachelor’s in graphic design in 1971 after switching from journalism to a graphic design major. After designing the Nike swoosh while still in college in 1971, Davidson went on to work with Nike for years before she left to pursue freelancing. 

Although now, when people hear the story of how much she was paid for the iconic logo they shake their heads at Davidson not asking for more then $35, she was rewarded with more than merely her $35 for her work with the company later on. Nike gave her a swoosh-shaped gold ring and also gave her 500 shares in the company, making it so Davidson got rewarded for her work. Davidson’s work lead her to other jobs and made her one of the world’s most famous graphic designers today. Her work is often referenced and admired by graphic designers to this day.