The Nike swoosh was conceived by Portland State University student Carolyn Davidson in 1971 for a mere $35. Even accounting for inflation, that only equates to around $250 today.
Legend has it that the graphic design student was scrounging together extra cash to pay for oil painting classes.
Nike co-founder Phil Knight initially disliked the logo but settled on it due to time constraints and production deadlines. He had hoped that it would ‘grow on him’ at the time. But, unfortunately, nobody at the time had any idea how iconic the logo would eventually become.
The Story Behind the Nike Swoosh Logo
You probably walk past hundreds of people wearing Nike products in everyday life. You might even own some sneakers, t-shirts, or even their artist-in-residence swag. The characteristic Swoosh is immediately recognizable to most people. Still, very few actually know the incredible story behind the famous logo.
After a chance encounter with Knight, graphic design student Carolyn wanted something that could outdo the three-striped Adidas logo because this was a brand that Phil Knight loved. For her $35 payment, she claims to have spent well over the 17.5 hours that is often mentioned.
The design was created with Nike, the Greek Goddess of victory, in mind. The tick mark symbolizes victory, so the Swoosh design fitted perfectly with the brand’s name. Carolyn also loved the simplicity of the design, and it was important that the design could fit easily onto the side of running shoes.
Carolyn Davidson stayed at Nike until 1975
Davidson went on to work with Nike for several more years. Right up until the point that the emerging company required large advertising agencies to further develop the brand. And after her noteworthy stint, Davidson worked as a freelancer.
Then, in 1983, Knight wanted to give Carolyn an extra thank you and awarded her an envelope containing 500 shares of stock (equating to around $1,000,000), a diamond ring engraved with the now infamous Swoosh, and some chocolates.