The Untold Story Behind The Success of Nike

Success Story of Nike

Formerly known as Blue Ribbon Sports (RBS), Nike was founded in 1964 by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. Phil Knight was a mid-range runner from Portland who trained Bill Bowerman under track and field. Bill Bowerman was searching for ways to improve the performance of his student and tried to upgrade their shoes in his spare time. In this article, we are going to discuss the untold story behind the success of Nike.

Bill Bowerman tried several different combinations but wasn’t very successful. While his student Phil Knight graduated from Stanford University with his MBA in Finance, he wrote an assignment proposing Japanese shoe manufacturing that would help retailers compete with well-established German brands. His recommendations fell on deaf ears, so he initiated to import and sell shoes from Japan in his local area. He tried to sell his first stock of shoes to his former coach Bowerman, but he was interested in joining him. Though the company was started in 1964 by both of them, it reached sales of $20,000 by 1965.

By the time the company was founded, they tried to start their line of shoes. After years of struggling, they came up with lighter weight training shoes in 1971, which had a rubber outsole with waffle-type nubs. Their training shoes were debuted in the U.S. in 1972 for trials in track & field.

First Shoe

Steve Prefontaine was their first brand ambassador who set seven American records from the 2000m to the 10,000m during his college career from 1969 to 1972. In 1979 they soon introduced the Nike Air technology. It was able to improve Nike’s reputation as a strong rival to the shoe industry. At this point, Nike’s growth was huge, leading them to go for Initial Public Offering by the end of 1980. With the fitness specialist, their brand soon became very popular, and they had achieved the status of America’s No.1 manufacturer for athletic or exercise shoes by 1982. With the fitness specialist, their brand soon became very popular.


Nike’s ‘Swoosh’ brand logo and ‘Just Do It’ tagline had become a widely recognized icon in American households. They designed signature shoes for the NBA rookie named Michael Jordan in 1985, and his growing success brought sales of Nike to break new records. Nike soon went on to design footwear and other cross-training accessories. They signed numerous teams, such as the Brazil football team, the U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams. They signed up once again in 1996 for a rookie golfer by the name of Tiger Woods.


Nike was continuing to launch new versions of its iconic fitness shoes. In 2000, they created Nike Shox, which were extremely liked around the world. Today, Nike is a vast empire that encompasses various sports such as tennis, baseball, soccer, cricket, and athletics.


Nike is fantastic at many things like manufacturing quality shoes, providing numerous professional and college athletic teams with equipment and gear, and making a lot of money. Apart from sports shoes, Nike is also famous for its marketing strategies.