Print Design Ideas – The Nike Swoosh

Nike Swoosh - Print Design Ideas

Iconic Print Design Ideas


Some logos are so recognisable that they become iconic. Coca-Cola’s swirly lettering is one example, Virgin’s scribble that adorns everything from aircraft tails to gym equipment is another. We recently came across this LinkedIn article, telling the story of designer Phil Knight. Knight’s name may not be easily recognisable to everyone but his designs certainly are.

Phil Knight was the man behind the Nike swoosh, the iconic design that adorns millions of running shoes, tracksuits and other pieces of athletic gear worldwide. In this article we’ll examine what made the design so iconic and long lasting and what print design ideas can be taken from Nike’s experience.

The logo becomes the brand


Nike was one of the first companies to debrand. In the mid-90s it removes the word ‘Nike’ from its logo and instead, the company now uses the swoosh on its own. On business cards and letterheads the swoosh is Nike’s identity. The name, if it appears at all, is far smaller. How did Nike reach a position where it could confidently stop using its name and just use the swoosh? One of the key steps was making sure that its logo was highly visible on products used by high profile athletes. One of the iconic images of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics is Michael Johnson’s golden Nike running shoes.

Print Design Ideas


But simply being seen everywhere isn’t enough to make a logo memorable. If you’ve ever played Logos Quiz on an iPhone you’ll know that some logos that you see every day can become completely unrecognisable with the company name removed. Clearly more thought is required so what does Phil Knight have to say about creating an iconic brand?

Building an icon


The key to Knight was partnering with the right people. Around the same time as Johnson was running to 400 metre glory in Atlanta, Michael Jordan was on his way to becoming a basketball megastar. Unusually for a basketball player his fame spread outside the United States, landing him a starring role in the Loony Tunes film Space Jam. What was he wearing throughout the film? That iconic pair of Nike shoes… A key part of Knight’s strategy was ensuring that influential people were seen with the logo. This not only ensured that the logo was seen regularly but, crucially, ensured that people associated the logo with their sporting idols.


Lessons for print marketing


So what lessons can businesses without the marketing clout of Knight take from the story of the Nike swoosh? If you want to build your logo as a recognisable part of your brand it’s critical that it’s easily recognisable and stands out. The simplicity of the Nike logo may have also been a key part of its success so it may be worth considering simple ideas for your brand. If you’d like to discuss the opportunities available for your company then contact us for a free design consultation. It could be the first step towards creating a new icon that helps you take over the world!