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Case Study | Nike And The Sense Of Having A Brand Mantra

Nike Brand Mantra Case study | The Brand Hopper

Case Study | Nike And The Sense Of Having A Brand Mantra 2 min read

A brand with a keen sense of what it represents to consumers is Nike . Nike has a rich set of associations with consumers, revolving around such considerations as its innovative product designs, its sponsorships of top athletes, its award-winning advertising, its competitive drive, and its irreverent attitude.

Internally, Nike marketers adopted a three-word brand mantra of “ authentic athletic performance ” to guide their marketing efforts. Thus, in Nike’s eyes, its entire marketing program—its products and how they are sold—must reflect the key brand values conveyed by the brand mantra.

What is Nike's brand mantra? | The Brand Hopper Case Study

Nike’s brand mantra has had profound implications for its marketing. In the words of ex-Nike marketing gurus Scott Bedbury and Jerome Conlon, the brand mantra provided the “intellectual guard rails” to keep the brand moving in the right direction and to make sure it did not get off track somehow.

Nike’s brand mantra has even affected product development. Over the years, Nike has expanded its brand meaning from “running shoes” to “athletic shoes” to “athletic shoes and apparel” to “all things associated with athletics (including equipment).”

Also Read: Coca-Cola Learned Branding Lesson The Hard Way

Each step of the way, however, it has been guided by its “authentic athletic performance” brand mantra. For example, as Nike rolled out its successful apparel line, one important hurdle for the products was that they should be innovative enough through material, cut, or design to truly benefit top athletes. The revolutionary moisture-wicking technology of their Dri-Fit apparel line left athletes drier and more comfortable as they sweat. At the same time, the company has been careful to avoid using the Nike name to brand products that did not fit with the brand mantra, like casual “brown” shoes.

Nike Branding Case STudy | The Brand Hopper

When Nike has experienced problems with its marketing program, they have often been a result of its failure to figure out how to translate its brand mantra to the marketing challenge at hand. For example, in going to Europe, Nike experienced several false starts until realizing that “authentic athletic performance” has a different meaning over there and, in particular, has to involve soccer in a major way. Similarly, Nike stumbled in developing its All Conditions Gear (ACG) outdoors shoes and clothing sub-brand, which attempted to translate its brand mantra into a less competitive arena.

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Case Study | Inside Nike’s Radical Direct-to-Consumer Strategy

Inside Nike's Radical Direct-to-Consumer Strategy Case Study

  • Chantal Fernandez

In October 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic that had infected 188 countries, causing record sales damage across the retail sector, Nike’s share price hit an all-time high.

Like other retailers, Nike had been forced to close most of its network of more than 900 stores across the world, as had its key wholesale partners like Nordstrom and Foot Locker.

But the American sportswear giant’s performance during the pandemic, when its online sales spiked, signalled to many that Nike had the competency to prosper long term, in a future that will be increasingly defined by e-commerce and digital brand connections.

It was a validation of a strategy that Nike prioritised three years ago, dubbing it “Consumer Direct Offense,” but the seeds of the approach go back almost a decade.


Above all, Nike is a marketing company. It doesn’t just sell sneakers; it sells the brand aspiration that imbues those sneakers with meaning. But to achieve the reach required to scale its business, Nike’s distribution strategy had long-relied on third-party retailers to sell its products, even if the consumer experience offered by those partners diluted its brand.

But in a future increasingly defined by e-commerce, fast-moving trends and, above all, the rising power of branding to drive consumer preference when competitors are just a click away, Nike realised that in order to thrive, it needed to take control of its distribution to better manage its brand and deepen its connection with consumers.

It was definitely architecting a new retail, and a bold, retail vision for Nike.

Such an evolution is easier said than done, especially for a business as large as Nike in a category as competitive as sportswear. But by radically cutting back on its wholesale distribution and raising the bar for brand experience with the third-party partners that remained; expanding its focus on content, community and customisation to keep customers close; investing in its data analytics and logistics capabilities; and rethinking the role of the store as a brand stage, Nike drove a veritable direct-to-consumer revolution.

When the pandemic hit, these shifts went into overdrive.

“It was definitely architecting a new retail, and a bold, retail vision for Nike,” said Heidi O’Neill, Nike’s president of consumer and marketplace, and one of the most prominent executives leading the brand’s new strategy in recent years. “But it started with our consumer, and we knew that consumers wanted a more direct relationship with us today.”

In this case study, BoF breaks down Nike’s pioneering direct-to consumer strategy and how it has worked to the brand’s advantage, propelling its share price to new heights during the global crisis of 2020.

Click below to read the case study now.

  • Mark Parker
  • John Donahoe
  • direct to consumer
  • athletic apparel

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Unravelling the Brilliance: How Nike's 'Just Do It' Became More Than a Slogan

Unravelling the Brilliance: How Nike's 'Just Do It' Became More Than a Slogan

Dive into the remarkable journey of Nike's 'Just Do It' campaign, a narrative that encapsulates the essence of marketing genius. From its inception, historical roots, to its colossal cultural impact, this campaign is a testament to strategic branding. We examine the clever marketing strategies that made 'Just Do It' more than a slogan but a rallying cry for generations. The campaign's visual elements, like the iconic swoosh and bold typography, became beacons of motivation, etching the brand into global consciousness. We explore the tangible results that reshaped Nike’s market presence and how it continues to resonate in the digital age. Finally, we distil the timeless lessons that can inspire today's businesses to find their unique voice.

Introduction: Decoding Nike's Rallying Cry – 'Just Do It'

Have you ever wondered how three simple words could encapsulate the essence of motivation, ambition, and perseverance? "Just Do It," Nike's universally recognised slogan, is not just a call to action; it's a cultural manifesto that has galvanised millions to push beyond their limits.

In 1988, Nike introduced a slogan that would become synonymous with the sporting ethos and beyond, a beacon for dreamers and doers alike. The 'Just Do It' campaign was a game-changer, a stroke of marketing genius that would propel Nike from a footwear contender to a global sports and fitness juggernaut. But what is the story behind this deceptively simple phrase? And more intriguingly, how did these three words inspire a generation and become etched into the fabric of our society?

This blog post delves deep into the fabric of what made 'Just Do It' more than a campaign; it became a movement. We will explore the audacious marketing strategies that turned a gutsy slogan into a household mantra and dissect how a calculated risk transcended into phenomenal success. Join us as we unpack the genius behind a campaign that is as relevant today as it was over three decades ago. Let's explore the narrative, the strategy, the execution, and the relentless spirit of innovation that Nike so brilliantly harnessed.

Hook with a Story: The Dawn of a Slogan That Moved the World

Picture the scene: it's the late 1980s, and Nike is a well-respected brand, yet they're trailing behind their rivals, searching for that spark of creativity to ignite their ascent to the summit of sports apparel. Enter the marketing genius of Nike, the architects behind a campaign that would resonate with every stratum of society. It was a time ripe for change, a moment awaiting its catalyst.

The inaugural moment for 'Just Do It' arrived unassumingly during a Nike ad featuring Walt Stack, an 80-year-old running icon, as he jogged across the Golden Gate Bridge. His gritty voice-over, detailing his daily 17-mile run, culminated in the debut appearance of the three words that would soon become a rallying cry for the masses: "Just Do It." This wasn't just an advertisement; it was the embodiment of Nike's ethos, a narrative that celebrated the perseverance of an everyman and connected with the audience on a profoundly personal level.

This campaign struck a chord with the public. The impact of the 'Just Do It' slogan was immediate and staggering. People from all walks of life, irrespective of age, gender, or athletic ability, were enamoured with the simplicity and power of the message. It was a clarion call to action, an invitation to step out of the shadows of procrastination and lace up for the run of their lives.

Nike's narrative had shifted. They were no longer just selling sneakers; they were selling a dream, a lifestyle, and a philosophy wrapped up in three commanding words. The slogan became a symbol of self-empowerment, a beacon that lit up tracks, gyms, and streets worldwide. It was this masterstroke of branding, this marketing genius of Nike, that catapulted the brand into a new era, an era where everyone with a body became an athlete, and every challenge was met with a resolute 'Just Do It'.

Historical Context: Tracing the Footsteps Before the Leap

Before the seismic wave of 'Just Do It', Nike's journey began modestly in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports. It was the brainchild of Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman, with a mission rooted in crafting superior track shoes. From these humble beginnings, the brand, which would be christened 'Nike' in 1971, steadily built a reputation for innovation in athletic footwear, challenging established names with their cutting-edge designs.

The late 1980s, the era that birthed the 'Just Do It' campaign, was characterised by a cultural renaissance of health and fitness. Society was becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of an active lifestyle, and aerobics classes, jogging, and gym memberships were becoming the hallmarks of a new age of fitness consciousness. It was a time of economic prosperity in the West, and with the Cold War drawing to a close, there was a collective sense of optimism and the desire for personal improvement.

Amidst this backdrop, Nike's competitors were vying for market dominance, and Nike needed to distinguish itself. The brand was at a crossroads, searching for a way to tap into the zeitgeist, to become the emblem of this burgeoning athletic movement. That's when the 'Just Do It' campaign emerged, not just as a marketing strategy, but as a cultural signifier that resonated with the prevailing mood of determination and self-improvement.

This was a time when advertising was evolving, becoming more about storytelling and connecting with audiences on an emotional level. Nike's adoption of the 'Just Do It' slogan was both a reflection of the cultural spirit and a catalyst for change. The campaign's brilliance lay in its universality; it was a message that transcended sport, reaching out to anyone harbouring a goal or a dream, urging them to take that first step towards realising it.

Nike's narrative pre-'Just Do It' was impressive, but it was this campaign that marked the true genesis of the brand as a cultural icon. It wove Nike's ethos into the tapestry of the times, capturing the collective imagination and fostering a community that believed in the power of sport to change lives. It was this pivotal moment that marked Nike's transition from a purveyor of athletic gear to a harbinger of inspiration, urging everyone to make their mark, 'Just Do It'.

The Campaign's Inception: The Birth of a Battle Cry

In the annals of advertising lore, few tales are as riveting as the conception of Nike's 'Just Do It' campaign. At the heart of this narrative stands Dan Wieden, co-founder of the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy. It was his spark of genius that ignited the fire which would burn brightly in the annals of marketing history. The origin of the slogan is as unconventional as it is grim; inspired by the last words of Gary Gilmore, a man facing a firing squad, "Let's do it." From this macabre inspiration, Wieden sculpted a message that encapsulated determination, resilience, and action - 'Just Do It'.

The campaign launched in 1988 and was a stark departure from the norm. Unlike the product-centric advertisements of its competitors, Nike's approach was philosophical and emotive. It didn't showcase the product's features; instead, it tapped into the ethos of perseverance and courage that resonated on a universal level. The initial reactions were a mix of awe and surprise. Consumers were not used to being addressed in such a direct, almost confrontational manner. Yet, it was precisely this novelty that caught the public's imagination.

What set 'Just Do It' apart was not just its brevity, but its broad appeal. It wasn't aimed solely at athletes but at every individual harbouring the ambition to better themselves, to push beyond their limits. This was not just a tagline but a call to arms, an invitation to join a movement that celebrated the triumph of will. In a landscape cluttered with advertisements that begged for attention with jingles and slogans, 'Just Do It' stood out for its simplicity and its silent command for action.

The campaign's message was versatile, capable of being applied to a plethora of narratives, from the everyday person jogging at dawn to the elite athlete striving for gold. It was this adaptability that made it so powerful. Other marketing strategies of the time played it safe, but Nike gambled on the human spirit - and it paid off. 'Just Do It' was not just heard; it was felt. It permeated the cultural fabric, becoming more than a slogan - it became a mantra for life.

Marketing Strategies: Crafting the Nike Narrative

Nike's advertising strategies: a paradigm shift.

Nike's 'Just Do It' campaign marked a seismic shift in advertising strategies during the late 1980s. The genius lay not just in the words, but in the ethos and execution of the campaign. Nike’s approach was multifaceted, integrating a concoction of inspiration, aspiration, and relatability, which turned it into a cultural touchstone.

Celebrity Endorsements Impact: Icons at the Fore

One of the campaign’s most influential strategies was the utilisation of celebrity endorsements. Nike didn't just sign athletes; they carefully curated a roster of icons who embodied the 'Just Do It' spirit. From Michael Jordan's aerial artistry to Andre Agassi's rebellious charm, these were not mere endorsements but partnerships that enhanced Nike's narrative. The celebrities chosen became the living embodiment of the brand's ethos, their personal stories of struggle and success echoing the campaign’s core message.

Emotional Appeal: The Human Connection

At the crux of 'Just Do It' was its emotional appeal. Nike's advertisements were masterclasses in storytelling, often featuring evocative visuals paired with narratives that celebrated human potential and perseverance. They weren’t selling shoes; they were selling a dream. This emotional resonance created a deep connection with audiences, transforming customers into a community of followers inspired by the brand's message.

Universal Message: Beyond Borders and Boundaries

The universal appeal of 'Just Do It' cannot be overstated. It transcended demographics, age, and even sports, to tap into a collective desire for self-improvement. The slogan served as a universal battle cry that encouraged people to strive for more, regardless of their starting point. Nike’s marketing strategy was never about the footwear; it was about the person wearing it. This inclusive message broadened Nike’s appeal far beyond the realms of sport, embedding itself into the very fabric of popular culture.

Strategic Positioning: The Ubiquity of 'Just Do It'

Another aspect of the campaign's strategy was its omnipresence. Nike ensured that 'Just Do It' was everywhere – from billboards to magazine ads, and notably, in the burgeoning realm of television commercials. The repetitive but powerful placement of the message ensured that it was not only seen but also remembered.

The Symbiosis of Sound and Vision: Audio-Visual Mastery

Nike's commercials were not just visually stimulating; they were aurally distinctive. The company understood the power of music and sound in branding, often pairing their visuals with soundtracks and voice-overs that amplified the emotional impact of the visuals. This audio-visual synergy ensured that the campaign engaged multiple senses, making the experience more memorable.

Digital Foresight: Pioneering into the Future

As the digital age dawned, Nike adapted its 'Just Do It' campaign to fit the new mediums. Early adoption of internet marketing and social media allowed Nike to continue the dialogue with their audience, making the campaign as dynamic and enduring as the slogan itself.

In sum, Nike's 'Just Do It' campaign was not just a marketing triumph; it was a cultural phenomenon. By leveraging celebrity endorsements, emotional narratives, and a message that resonated on a global scale, Nike crafted a campaign that would echo through the ages, setting the standard for what a brand could achieve when it speaks not at its audience, but to them.

Cultural Impact: The Echo of 'Just Do It'

From slogan to social lexicon: the ascent of a catchphrase.

The 'Just Do It' campaign, with its deceptively simple trio of words, evolved from a marketing message into a cultural lexicon. Its brevity belied its depth, capturing the zeitgeist of an era that celebrated individualism and determination. The slogan became an emblematic mantra for action and empowerment, echoing beyond the tracks and fields, into every avenue where effort and willpower could possibly make a difference.

A Rallying Cry for Change: 'Just Do It' and Social Movements

Nike's catchphrase has often found itself woven into the narrative of social movements and calls to action. Whether it was in the pursuit of personal goals or as a part of collective activism, 'Just Do It' has served as a rallying cry, a push towards taking that first step in the journey towards change. The slogan has been brandished on placards during marches and has been the whispered words of encouragement at the start of marathons for causes. Its adaptability to various contexts has made it a versatile tool for inspiration.

Breaking Barriers: Celebrating Achievements Across the Spectrum

'Just Do It' has also played a pivotal role in celebrating barrier-breaking moments in sports and society at large. From spotlighting the first female athletes to break into male-dominated sports to acknowledging the achievements of athletes with disabilities, the slogan has been at the heart of campaigns that recognise and champion diversity and inclusivity in all forms of human endeavour.

The Role in Pop Culture: 'Just Do It' in Entertainment and Media

The reach of 'Just Do It' has extended into the realms of entertainment and media, where it has been referenced in films, music, and literature. It has inspired song lyrics, been the punchline in sitcoms, and has been emblazoned across fashion lines. Its ubiquity in pop culture is a testament to its resonance with a broad audience and its ability to encapsulate the spirit of an era focused on achieving the extraordinary.

Empowerment in Advertising: A Blueprint for Brands

Nike's campaign also set a new precedent for brand messaging, positioning empowerment at the forefront of advertising. It demonstrated the power of a brand that stands for something greater than its product, paving the way for future campaigns across industries to integrate motivational and empowering messages in their brand narratives.

Reflecting on Milestones: 'Just Do It' in Retrospective Campaigns

As the years have passed, Nike has adeptly used the 'Just Do It' slogan to reflect on historical milestones and societal progress. It has been the centrepiece of anniversary campaigns that not only look back on the achievements of the past but also set the tone for future aspirations, reminding people that while much has been achieved, there is still much to do.

In sum, the 'Just Do It' slogan has become deeply ingrained in our cultural fabric, emblematic of the courage to face challenges head-on. Its simplicity masks a profound message of persistence and bravery that continues to inspire actions, big and small, and remains as relevant today as it was when first introduced. As both a witness and contributor to cultural evolution, Nike's 'Just Do It' has truly transcended the realm of advertising to become a cornerstone of modern motivational ethos

Visual and Design Elements: The Aesthetics of Aspiration

The swoosh: symbolising movement and progress.

The iconic Nike swoosh is an integral component of the 'Just Do It' campaign, a symbol that has become synonymous with excellence and aspiration. Designed to represent the wing of the Greek goddess of victory, the logo embodies the essence of movement, speed, and the soaring spirit of athletes everywhere. Its simple, fluid lines suggest progress and momentum, perfectly aligning with the campaign's message of action and determination.

Typography that Talks: The Font of 'Just Do It'

The typography used for 'Just Do It' is as critical as the words themselves. The bold, sans-serif font asserts confidence, standing out with unapologetic clarity. Its starkness and strength convey a message that's impossible to ignore, mirroring the decisiveness of the slogan. The choice of typeface complements the swoosh in creating a cohesive visual identity that’s as impactful as the ethos it represents.

Design in Brand Recognition: The Harmony of Elements

The design elements of Nike's campaign are pivotal in brand recognition. They create a visual language that communicates Nike's values even without words. The cohesion between the swoosh, the typography, and the slogan forms a trinity of branding that is immediately recognisable, proving that design is not just about aesthetics but also about creating a sense of identity and belonging. Good design in branding is like a visual handshake; it introduces and ingrains the brand in the public consciousness.

Complementary Forces: The Slogan and the Swoosh

The interplay between the 'Just Do It' slogan and the swoosh logo is a study in harmonious design. The swoosh accentuates the slogan, giving it a sense of dynamism, while the slogan verbalises the action that the swoosh symbolises. Together, they create a powerful message that resonates with a wide audience, transcending language barriers and cultural differences.

Impactful Consistency: The Role of Repetition in Design

The consistent use of the swoosh and the ‘Just Do It’ slogan across all platforms has reinforced Nike's brand identity. This repetition is key in solidifying the association between the visual elements and the brand, ensuring that whenever a consumer sees either the swoosh or the slogan, the values of Nike are instantly called to mind.

A Template for Success: The Blueprint Provided by Nike's Design

The design strategy employed by Nike has provided a blueprint for success that many other brands have sought to emulate. The visual and design elements of the 'Just Do It' campaign have demonstrated the immense power of strong, cohesive branding, serving as a case study for the importance of integrating design seamlessly with a brand’s core message.

In essence, the visual and design elements of Nike's 'Just Do It' campaign are as integral to its success as the marketing strategies themselves. They are not just a part of the campaign; they are the silent ambassadors of the brand, speaking volumes without saying a word and leaving a lasting impression that has helped cement Nike's position as a leader in the global marketplace.

The Results: Quantifying the Triumph

Skyrocketing sales: the financial win.

The 'Just Do It' campaign proved to be a commercial triumph for Nike, with the impact on sales being nothing short of spectacular. In the decade following the campaign's 1988 launch, Nike saw an exponential rise in its share of the North American sport-shoe business from 18% to 43%. This astonishing leap in market share was mirrored by a surge in sales, which rocketed from $877 million to over $9.2 billion, underscoring the campaign’s colossal influence on Nike's financial prosperity.

Brand Recognition: The Measure of Memory

Brand recognition metrics painted an equally impressive picture. Post-campaign surveys indicated that Nike had achieved an astounding 97% brand recognition rate, a testament to the campaign’s penetrative power. This figure not only illustrated the campaign's effectiveness in cementing Nike's image in the minds of consumers but also highlighted the power of concise and impactful messaging in elevating brand status.

Market Share: A Leader's Emergence

The campaign's influence on Nike's market share was a decisive factor in establishing the company as a leading sportswear brand globally. Nike’s dominance in the market was not merely about numbers; it was about becoming the emblematic choice for athletes and non-athletes alike. The 'Just Do It' campaign did not just increase market share; it captured the ethos of an entire fitness movement, making Nike the go-to brand for sportswear.

Business Success: Beyond the Bottom Line

The keywords "business success" and "marketing effectiveness" are inextricably linked with Nike's 'Just Do It' campaign. This marketing masterpiece showcased how a blend of psychological savvy, cultural awareness, and brand positioning could translate into verifiable business results. The campaign's success was a testament to the fact that when marketing resonates on a personal level, it can achieve more than just sales; it can engender loyalty and forge a brand legacy.

Marketing Effectiveness: The Enduring Legacy

Even decades later, the effectiveness of Nike's marketing through 'Just Do It' remains a benchmark in advertising. The campaign's direct contribution to Nike's profitability and brand equity is frequently cited in case studies, encapsulating the profound impact of a well-crafted and emotionally resonant marketing strategy.

In conclusion, the 'Just Do It' campaign stands as an indelible proof point in marketing history, showcasing the tangible results of a powerful brand message. Its success story is one that continues to inspire marketers and businesses to craft campaigns that aim not just for immediate gains but for long-term market presence and consumer connection. Nike’s achievement through 'Just Do It' is a compelling narrative of how visionary branding, coupled with strategic marketing, can create an enduring and profitable legacy.

Modern Day Relevance: Adapting a Timeless Slogan

The slogan's endurance in contemporary marketing.

Even in today's fast-paced digital marketing landscape, the 'Just Do It' slogan retains its potency and relevance, a rare feat for a tagline born in the late 1980s. It's a testament to the slogan's inherent adaptability and timeless appeal that it continues to inspire and resonate with audiences across generations. Nike's commitment to the message of empowerment and perseverance reflects the ethos of the modern consumer, who values authenticity and motivation in branding.

Evolving with the Digital Surge

Nike has skilfully transitioned 'Just Do It' into the digital era, ensuring its presence is felt across various online platforms. The brand has seamlessly integrated the slogan into social media campaigns, influencer partnerships, and interactive online events. By doing so, Nike maintains the campaign's original spirit while also speaking the language of the digital-native audience. The use of targeted hashtags, viral challenges, and digital storytelling keeps the slogan at the forefront of consumer consciousness.

Leveraging Digital Channels for Broader Reach

Nike's evolution of 'Just Do It' within digital marketing channels is a prime example of how traditional advertising principles can flourish in a new media environment. The brand has utilised social media platforms not just for promotion, but to create communities and forge connections with consumers. By aligning the campaign with digital trends and content that encourage user engagement, Nike ensures that 'Just Do It' remains as dynamic and influential as ever.

The Campaign’s Adaptability to Current Trends

In an age where trends come and go with dizzying speed, the adaptability of 'Just Do It' is particularly noteworthy. Nike has successfully kept the campaign fresh and relevant by aligning it with contemporary movements and conversations around social justice, fitness trends, and personal achievement. This approach has allowed the slogan to transcend its original context and remain a beacon of inspiration in a rapidly changing world.

Continual Reinvention While Staying True to Core Values

Nike’s ability to keep 'Just Do It' relevant lies in the brand's skill in balancing continuity with change. While digital marketing strategies are continually reinvented to stay ahead of the curve, the core values of determination and excellence that 'Just Do It' embodies have remained unchanged. This consistency is crucial in a modern marketing context, where consumers seek out brands with authentic and steadfast messaging.

Conclusion: 'Just Do It' in the Digital Age

The enduring relevance of 'Just Do It' in modern marketing is a compelling narrative of adaptation and resilience. Nike's approach to keeping the slogan alive in digital channels underscores the brand's understanding that while platforms may evolve, the fundamental human desire for inspiration and motivation remains constant. The slogan's successful migration into the digital age is a robust blueprint for other brands aiming to maintain the relevance of their legacy campaigns amidst the ceaseless tides of change. 'Just Do It' remains, therefore, not just a call to action, but a reminder of the enduring power of a message that speaks to the heart of the human experience.

Lessons Learned: Extracting Universal Marketing Wisdom

The quintessence of a universal appeal.

Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign is a masterclass in creating a universal appeal. The key takeaway is the power of a simple, yet profound message that resonates across demographics and time. It teaches that the essence of a slogan should tap into the collective aspirations of its audience, becoming a mirror in which they see their potential selves.

Authenticity as the Cornerstone of Brand Identity

Authenticity has been the cornerstone of the ‘Just Do It’ campaign’s longevity. It encourages businesses to delve deep into their brand identity and emerge with a message that is not only true to their ethos but also strikes a chord with their audience's values and beliefs. This authenticity fosters trust and loyalty, which are invaluable currencies in the modern marketplace.

Consistency Coupled with Adaptability

Another lesson is the balance between consistency and adaptability. Nike has shown that while it’s crucial to remain true to your brand’s core message, it’s equally important to adapt its delivery to the evolving landscapes of culture and media. This duality ensures that the message remains relevant and engaging, regardless of the medium through which it is conveyed.

The Influence of Cultural Relevance

Nike's campaign underscores the importance of cultural relevance. Marketers are reminded that tapping into the zeitgeist is a potent strategy. However, it’s not enough to simply reflect the current cultural climate; leading brands like Nike also contribute to and influence the cultural dialogue. This positions a brand as a thought leader and an integral part of its consumers' lives.

Emotional Connection Transcends Product Selling

The emotional connection that the ‘Just Do It’ slogan fosters is a blueprint for transcending mere product selling. It illustrates that the most effective marketing does not focus solely on the product but instead on the emotional response that the product facilitates. This emotional resonance is what ultimately converts and retains customers.

The Power of a Call to Action

The campaign has demonstrated the power of an effective call to action. ‘Just Do It’ is an instruction, an invitation, and a challenge all rolled into one. It’s an example for businesses to craft their calls to action in a way that empowers and motivates their audience to engage with the brand.

Encouraging Marketers to Find Their Rallying Cry

In light of Nike's success, businesses and marketers should consider what their own 'Just Do It' equivalent would be. This doesn't mean searching for a catchy tagline alone but finding a principle or sentiment that encapsulates the brand’s mission. It’s about distilling the brand's essence into a message that ignites a spark in the hearts of their audience.

Conclusion: Embracing the 'Just Do It' Spirit

The overarching lesson from Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign is the value of a resonant, authentic, and adaptable message. Brands are encouraged to reflect on their core values and craft a message that not only represents their identity but also inspires their audience. The campaign is a reminder that at the heart of every successful marketing effort is a story that connects, a purpose that resonates, and a call that mobilizes. Finding your brand's version of 'Just Do It' is an invitation to step into a space of boldness and creativity that has the power to galvanize markets and shape futures.

Conclusion: The Enduring Legacy of 'Just Do It'

As we draw the curtains on the dissection of Nike’s seminal ‘Just Do It’ campaign, it’s clear that its impact is as indelible as the footprint of a runner on a track. From the genesis of the slogan in the creative crucible of Dan Wieden’s mind to its omnipresence in the cultural lexicon, the campaign stands as a colossus in the marketing world.

We've traversed through the strategic brilliance of Nike's marketing approach, where celebrity endorsements were not just glamourous add-ons but purposeful amplifications of a universal call to action. The campaign’s emotional gravitas has moved beyond mere motivation, touching hearts and propelling bodies into motion, making ‘Just Do It’ a mantra for the masses.

The visual ingenuity of the swoosh, coupled with the terse yet potent typography of the slogan, has underscored the role of design in searing a brand into public consciousness. The stark simplicity of these elements has transcended mere aesthetics, becoming symbols of excellence and determination.

In evaluating the results, we’ve quantified the campaign's success, not just in sterling sales figures and market share, but in the way it’s shaped consumer mindset and loyalty. Nike’s consistent innovation has ensured that ‘Just Do It’ remains relevant, evolving with technological advances and shifts in consumer engagement.

The campaign’s teachings are manifold, offering a blueprint for businesses aspiring to leave a mark. It advocates for the power of simplicity, the resonance of authenticity, and the significance of a brand that dares to speak with conviction.

In conclusion, the 'Just Do It' campaign is not just a lesson in marketing excellence; it is a testament to the power of a brand to inspire, to challenge, and to lead. It’s a narrative that invites reflection on our own potential, both personal and professional.

We encourage you to share this reflection. How has ‘Just Do It’ resonated with you? Has it spurred you into action, shaped your goals, or influenced your business strategies? Join the conversation and impart your experiences. After all, in the spirit of Nike’s rallying cry, when it comes to making an impact, why wait? Just do it. Share your story.

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Case study: A review of how Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign transformed their brand

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nike brand mantra case study

The Nike ‘Just Do IT ‘ campaign is one of the most iconic and influential advertising campaigns in history. Launched in 1988, IT has transformed Nike from a struggling athletic footwear company into one of the most recognized brands globally. The campaign’s success lies in its ability to resonate with consumers, promote the brand’s values, and drive significant business growth.

The Birth of ‘Just Do IT ‘

In the late 1980s, Nike faced tough competition from Reebok, which had secured a dominant position in the market. Nike needed a game-changer – an advertising campaign that could revitalize the brand and ignite growth. Enter ‘Just Do IT .’ Created by Nike’s advertising agency, Wieden+Kennedy, the campaign aimed to inspire consumers to embrace their athletic potential and push past their limits.

The Emotion Behind the Slogan

‘Just Do IT ‘ tapped into the deepest emotions of individuals, encouraging them to go after their goals and dreams. The simple yet powerful slogan embodied the essence of Nike’s brand identity – a commitment to sports, competitiveness, and personal achievement. IT became a rallying cry for athletes and non-athletes alike, uniting them under a shared belief in the power of pursuing greatness.

Impact on Nike’s Brand Perception

The ‘Just Do IT ‘ campaign had an unprecedented impact on Nike’s brand perception. Prior to the campaign, Nike was seen primarily as a performance athletic footwear brand. However, by associating ‘Just Do IT ‘ with a broader message of empowerment and accomplishment, Nike successfully transformed its brand image.

The campaign positioned Nike as a brand that stood for more than just selling athletic shoes; IT embodied a lifestyle – one that encouraged people to push their limits, overcome obstacles, and embrace their true potential. This shift helped Nike appeal to a much wider audience, including both serious athletes and casual sports enthusiasts.

Sustained Success and Business Growth

Since the launch of ‘Just Do IT ,’ Nike’s success has skyrocketed. The campaign not only resonated with consumers but also resonated with Nike’s sales. Within just ten years, Nike’s sales tripled from $877 million to over $9.2 billion.

The ‘Just Do IT ‘ campaign assumed a life of its own, becoming a cultural phenomenon. Its impact extended far beyond advertising to influence various aspects of popular culture, including music, art, and film. IT propelled Nike to become a global leader in the athletic footwear and apparel industry, solidifying its position as an aspirational brand.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How did Nike come up with the ‘Just Do IT ‘ slogan?

A: The ‘Just Do IT ‘ slogan was created by the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, during a brainstorming session. The agency’s co-founder, Dan Wieden, was inspired by the final words of convicted murderer Gary Gilmore before his execution, “Let’s do IT .” The tagline was rephrased as ‘Just Do IT ‘ to make IT more grammatically appropriate and memorable.

Q: How did the ‘Just Do IT ‘ campaign change Nike’s brand identity?

A: The ‘Just Do IT ‘ campaign broadened Nike’s brand identity by shifting its focus from being solely a performance athletic footwear brand to one that also embraced a lifestyle of empowerment and achieving one’s goals. IT positioned Nike as a brand that stood for more than just products; IT stood for determination, ambition, and inspiring individuals to believe in themselves.

Q: Did the success of the campaign impact Nike’s competitors?

A: Absolutely. The overwhelming success of the ‘Just Do IT ‘ campaign forced Nike’s competitors to reevaluate their marketing strategies. The campaign’s emotional resonance and universal appeal challenged rival brands to connect with consumers on a deeper level. IT set a new standard for sports marketing and influenced the industry as a whole.

The Nike ‘Just Do IT ‘ campaign has left an indelible mark on both the advertising industry and popular culture. By embodying the core values of determination, empowerment, and personal achievement, IT transformed Nike’s brand identity, broadened its appeal, and fueled significant business growth. Three simple words became a mantra for athletes and dreamers alike, propelling Nike to the forefront of the athletic footwear market and forever cementing its place in marketing history.

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Nike Marketing Strategy: The Case Study (Just Do It)

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Nike is a popular and leading shoe brand serving its customers for around more than 3 decades has an amazing story from the past. Here in this article, we will discuss the marketing strategy and a detailed case study of the popular shoe brand Nike.

Table of Contents

Nike Just do it: a hymn to daily challenges

More than forty years have passed since the first shoes with the famous mustache appeared on the market, but Nike’s success does not stop. The Oregon company continues to lead its competitors with annual sales of close to $30 billion and growth of 10% over the past five years. The brand is unstoppable, just as customers want it to be unstoppable by wearing their shoes during sports. ‘ Just do it: Nike’s motto has been the same for almost three decades, and it will remain so for a long time to come.

It perfectly represents not only Nike’s consumer community but also the company itself, simply and quickly. By the way, recently it turned out that this slogan was proposed by advertiser Dan Wieden , who was struck by the last words of a death row inmate in Utah. “Let’s do it,” 

In a somewhat grotesque sense, the man had accepted his latest challenge. It was a short step from here to the famous ‘Just do it: The goal of Nike’s marketing strategy is, in fact, to make its products real allies in their consumers’ daily fitness struggles .

The principal was running and waffle

The way they came to market strongly and positively influenced Nike’s subsequent marketing strategy. The landmark, odd to say, was a waffle maker.

It all started when University of Oregon coach Bill Bowerman founded Blue Ribbon Sports with his athlete (Philip Knight). In addition to training some of the best American athletes and trading sneakers, Bill also developed an interest in running, a practice that was unpopular at the time.

He examines, he observes, he proposes: in 1966, together with a cardiologist, he publishes the book Jogging, which is today seen as the launch pad of the running craze that swept the United States in the 1970s.

The importance of creativity (and storytelling)

nike shoes case study - Mix With Marketing

Meanwhile, relations with Onitsuka, the manufacturer of the Tigers, begin to deteriorate: Bill is convinced that thanks to his running knowledge, he can do better and design and manufacture better, lighter running shoes. to guarantee athletes the highest performance. And at this point, in the early seventies, Blue Ribbon Sports changed its name to Nike ( referring to the mythological winged personification of victory ): The company, previously a simple sneaker distributor, has thus become a manufacturing company.

History tells us that the first soles designed by Bill were made through his wife’s waffle maker: Nike’s marketing strategy does not fail to evoke this humble yet brilliant origin at times. They didn’t eat waffles at Bill’s house anymore for several months, but that little sacrifice was definitely worth the candle.

Today, his company is actually worth $71 billion

$19.7 billion brand.

Nike Moon Shoes , the first product released under the umbrella of Nike , were developed from a handmade model printed with a waffle maker . Compared to current offerings, the simplicity of these shoes disarms: however, what will be the spirit of the company is already in this first running product, for which the famous ‘mustache’ was also created. we know today.

The creator of the symbol was a design student with a salary of $35 . It’s interesting and shocking to note that today this brand is worth $10.7 billion , and without it and under another name, the company’s value would drop from its current $71 billion to $52 billion . long on the value of a good designer in the birth of a business.

Nike’s marketing strategy before marketing

Nike marketing strategy case study

Nike running shoes hit the market at the very beginning of the running era, which Bill Bowerman’s book initiated and caused, at least in part. Was it a coincidence or was it the first bold move in Nike’s successful marketing strategy? Neither, or rather a bit of both.

What we need to understand is that Bowerman did not publish this book, among other things, to sell his product, which was conceived and brought to market only years later.

No: He wrote that brochure because he really wanted to promote running and its health benefits. Of course, this wasn’t a very witty snippet of Nike’s hypothetical, newborn, or even early marketing strategy, but it could have been, nonetheless, especially given the results it brought.

By Michael Jordan and the Beatles

However, from then on, each Nike marketing strategy was deliberately and rationally designed: as early as 1973, for example, the company signed its first sponsorship contract with a tennis star, Ilie Nastase . Since then, the faces of athletes that Nike has incorporated into its products are innumerable.

First of all, we all know Michael Jordan: In 1984 the most famous basketball player became the brand’s flagship man, sponsored by ‘ Air Jordan ‘, a line of apparel and footwear for basketball that he still bills to the company. with $2 billion every year.

Air Jordan’s first promotional release

Nike marketing strategy air jordan

Nike even managed to use a Beatles song for a television commercial on the occasion of the 1987 Air Max release to give more power to its marketing campaign : no one from Liverpool had ever managed to brag about a song by the band. commercial. The impact of this ad was enormous: imagine the Air Max line still being produced. To date, there are more than 40 models.

Focus on customers also through social media

Jordan, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic, McIlroy: Over the years there have been many prestige faces to Nike’s marketing strategies, as mentioned, but the core message has never changed. Even better: from the seventies to the present, the brand’s voice and identity have remained true to themselves, always putting consumers’ needs before their products.

The aesthetics of communication have changed, and the media to convey their message to has multiplied, but the brand has never betrayed itself or its customers: take a look at the official Nike pages on the social network to understand this. The way the company interfaces with Facebook or Instagram shows that its presence on those platforms isn’t driven by new and shiny business goals: no, Nike is on Instagram because their customers are there too.

And communication on these pages is not limited to an aseptic commercia l offer, it is far from it: each post is designed and created to convey something of value to the user-consumer. So, in the spirit of the company, Nike’s social updates are mostly motivational messages for their athletes – yes, Nike’s philosophy is that anyone with a body can be an athlete too. That’s why the focus of corporate branding remains on helping clients do what they love to do best, whether it’s running, playing basketball, soccer, or tennis, anytime and in any situation.

Beyond shoes: technology to be closer to the consumer

Nike marketing strategy closer to consumer - Mix With Marketing

Athletes first, shoes second: this is the mantra of Nike’s marketing strategies , and it was this thinking that prompted the company to launch Nike, the first mass-produced high-tech product , in 2006. + iPod Sports Kit. It was a risky move designed to set the company firmly apart from its competitors: Once again, and more than ever in digital devices, the focus was on athletes rather than shoes. The kit allowed to measure the distance and speed of the race.

Oddly enough , yes, the product was Nike in every way, but everything was actually made by the iPod. Nike, on the other hand, was content to sell a chip to have ideas and put them in shoes, and a device for wireless connectivity.

In short, in this case, the partnership with Apple can be considered the best possible partnership. Over time, Nike+ devices have improved upgrade after upgrade, giving up first the iPod and then the chip: in 2010, everything was replaced by an iPhone ap p, and more than 6 million people are connected to a virtual community where they can analyze and share their sports. achievements.

In this way, as a complement, Nike had the opportunity to get closer to its customers, examine them closely, and communicate with them frequently. This technological lea p, which established a permanent relationship with the consumer, also made it possible to reduce advertising costs by 40% without compromising sales figures.

Nike’s goal

The final piece of Nike’s marketing strategy for a phased approach to the customer is the FuelBand bracelet , which calculates energy, and therefore – approximately – calories burned throughout the day. To make the data collected by the bracelet more reliable, Nike has created an online platform where customers can compare their energy consumption. Therefore, the athlete is in the center, the product is on the side, and the brand is always ready to motivate its consumers/athletes more.

This long-term strategy is explained above all by looking at the origins of the brand: it was born for running, not for team sports. That’s why Nike’s goal is the lone and even somewhat unruly runner who at times runs aggressively to overcome their physical and psychological limitations. The effectivenes s of this message was so effective that it persisted even as these lone athletes entered a community fueled by Nike through social media , which continues to differentiate the brand from its competitors.

Conclusion: selling shoes without selling shoes

That’s why the history of Nike’s marketing strategy teaches that in order to properly launch a product, it is necessary first and foremost to understan d what consumers need.

Once their desires are understood, a marketing campaign can be created through their products that can provide all possible solutions. For example, Nike realized that people needed a new way to stay fit, not shoes, so they offered to help them achieve this by selling shoes.

In addition, Nike’s marketing strategies teach that every consumer communication act of a company must create value, especially over the web: if you’re not solving problems, not providing real answers if you’re not helping your business. to improve the daily lives of viewers, then you inevitably have the wrong approach.

Marketing isn’t just about selling your product, or at least on the surface: Bill Bowerman didn’t start an empire by selling shoes, but by selling the art of running to customers who responded by purchasing billions of Nike Moon Shoes and by Air Max .

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How Nike's marketing strategies helped it become a global brand

Constant innovation has been the byword for nike's success. this case study analyses the ever-evolving marketing strategies adopted by nike to become a global brand..

  • Print Edition: Jul 06, 2014

 Photo: Vivan Mehra

Executive Summary : Constant innovation has been the byword for Nike's success. This case study analyses the ever-evolving marketing strategies adopted by Nike to become a global brand .

Founded in January 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) by University of Oregon track athlete Philip Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman, the company was initially a distributor for the Japanese shoemaker Onitsuka Co and their brand Tiger. In 1966, it opened the first BRS retail store in Santa Monica, California.

In those days, Bowerman would often rip apart the Tiger brand shoes to see how he could make them lighter and better. He used to take help from university runners to test his creations and collect their feedback. By 1971, though BRS revenue had touched $1 million, the business relationship with Onitsuka was turning sour. So, they moved on from being distributors of athletic footwear to designers and manufacturers of athletic footwear and took full control over their value chain.

In 1973, they called their brand Nike after the Greek goddess of victory. A design student Carolyn Davidson created the famous 'swoosh' logo for $35. Today, the estimated market value of Nike is about $10.7 billion.

nike brand mantra case study

The series had three ads featuring young sportsman Bo Jackson who campaigned on the benefits of a new cross-training pair of Nike shoes. Almost every year after Nike launched its air cushioning technology, it released new versions of Air Max. Currently, Nike has nearly 40 models under this brand name.

Shoes + Technology:

In due course, even the hi-tech Air Max technology was found to be inadequate to entice customers. And it was time for something that would differentiate Nike in the long run. It had to be at once very distant from the core business and also very appealing. The focus was on digital gadgets. It had less to do with shoes and more to do with athletes. Nike's sales philosophy - if you have a body, you are an athlete - had enticed everybody who wanted to think of himself/herself as an athlete or wanted to get more athletic.

Fast forward to May 20, 2006. On this day, Nike introduced its first mass produced gadget, Nike + iPod Sports Kit, in the US market. It was a tool to measure the distance and speed of a run or a walk and was built on a virtually flawless partnership strategy.

Nike was cashing in on the most technologically advanced portable device that could do all the tech work brilliantly. What was it that Nike did for the partnership? It brought the idea and developed it into a business. The company was actually selling just a small electronic chip that had to be inserted in the shoe (preferably a special one, but even a regular shoe would do) and a wireless connection device that had to be plugged to an iPod. All the rest (calculation, storage, integration) was done by the iPod. But it was Nike's product. It paved the way to a truly innovative future of the company.

nike brand mantra case study

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Please note you do not have access to teaching notes, co‐creating value through customers' experiences: the nike case.

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN : 1087-8572

Article publication date: 5 September 2008

This case aims to demonstrate how leading firms are learning how to sustain competitive advantage by co‐creating experiences of value with customers.


The shoe company Nike provides a glimpse of the next “best practices” of value co‐creation with customers. By engaging with informed, connected, and networked customers around the globe, Nike has found their shared experiences to be a new source of value.

The paper finds that customers are now informed, connected, networked, and empowered on a scale as never before, thanks to search engines, engagement platforms, the growth of internet‐based interest groups, and widespread high‐bandwidth communication and social interaction technologies. Customers have learned how to use these new tools to make their opinions and ideas heard.

Practical implications

A few leading companies like Nike are involving customers in the value creation process by offering Internet sites where they can share their interactions and experiences. These range from customers' ideas about how to improve or customize products to their feelings when they use products.). For Nike, the learning from these interactions creates new strategic capital. The company can now learn directly from customers' direct input on their preferences. Nike can build relationships and trust with the Nike+ community and experiment with new offerings, all the while enhancing its brand.


The strategic opportunity for Nike is to build and promote the use of Internet engagement platforms through which the firm can build customer relationships on a scale and scope as never before. Effectively managing these new initiatives initially posed a new challenge for Nike, a traditionally product‐centric organization. Now their viewpoint is reversed. “In the past the product was the end point of the consumer experience. Now it is the starting point.”

  • Value added
  • Customer information
  • Social interaction
  • Consumer marketing
  • Customization

Ramaswamy, V. (2008), "Co‐creating value through customers' experiences: the Nike case", Strategy & Leadership , Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 9-14.

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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Nike: An Innovation Journey

  • First Online: 29 November 2017

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Nike is an American multinational company that has evolved to become a global leader in athletic wear with annual sales exceeding $21 billion in 2016, more than half of which is attributed to international markets. Since its inception in 1964, Nike has been an innovation leader in product development, marketing and consumer experience. Due to a dedication to continuous innovation, Nike has been able to sustain a competitive advantage within the athletic apparel and footwear marketplace. This case highlights key points in Nike’s journey of innovation and examines how Nike has successfully emerged as a global champion within the athletic wear industry. Based on these analyzed strategies, this case provides implications that are relevant for practitioners and academics.

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With roots in beach culture, Hurley was established in Southern California in 1999 by Bob Hurley. Initially, it was known for surf-related products but eventually became a youth lifestyle brand (Transworld Survey, 2002 ).

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Michelle Childs

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Childs, M., Jin, B. (2018). Nike: An Innovation Journey. In: Jin, B., Cedrola, E. (eds) Product Innovation in the Global Fashion Industry. Palgrave Studies in Practice: Global Fashion Brand Management . Palgrave Pivot, New York.

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Brand positioning tip: a brand mantra is not a tagline

Chris Grams

October 15, 2015 Positioning

Originally coined by Scott Bedbury during his time at Nike , a brand mantra refers to a short 3-5 word phrase created to capture the very essence of the brand’s meaning. The most famous example of a brand mantra is from Nike, where the team coined the brand mantra Authentic Athletic Performance .

Brand mantra example: Samuel Wanjiru at 2008 summer olympics wearing Nike

Was I supposed to Just Do It or embody Authentic Athletic Performance? I’m not sure. I’ll just cross the finish line instead.

The most important thing to understand about brand mantras is that they are not designed to be externally facing slogans or taglines. Case in point— unless you’ve heard the Nike brand mantra story before, you’ve probably never seen the phrase Authentic Athletic Performance associated with Nike in advertising. Usually you will see an external manifestation of it, Just Do It being the prime example.

This is where most well-meaning brand mantra projects go bad. When brainstorming possible brand mantras, it is important for your team to be very clear that they are not writing advertising copy or taglines for external use. There is no quicker path to an inauthentic brand mantra than heading too quickly toward the language of advertising or marketing.

A brand mantra should resonate internally first. The mantra you choose should reflect the core values, mission, and culture of the company while also staying true to the brand positioning (if this is difficult, you’ve got bigger problems, because it may mean your culture and your brand are out of alignment).

The most powerful brand mantras become part of the DNA of the organization, and are used to guide everyday decisions about strategy, user experience, voice, and a host of other things. The mantra becomes a touchstone that is returned to over and over again—especially when decisions start getting tough.

Once you’ve settled on your brand mantra and tested it internally to ensure it resonates, you can finally start working on taglines. Again, think of a tagline as an external manifestation of the brand mantra— written in a language that will resonate with your target customer instead of your co-workers.

nike brand mantra case study

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