Four Decades of Swoosh.
In 1971, a Portland State University student named Carolyn Davidson designed what would go on to be one of the world’s most recognizable logos. As the story goes [Ed. note: read Allan Brettman’s fully fleshed out accounting of the Swoosh logo story in The Oregonian], in the late 1960s Nike co-founder Phil Knight at the time was an accounting professor at Portland State and also head of a fledgling athletic sportswear company called Blue Ribbon Sports. He approached Davidson one day in the school’s graphic design department and offered her a job making $2 per hour to work on charts and graphs for his company, BRS. Then, in early 1971, Knight decided it was time to end the business relationship with his footwear distributor, Onitsuka Co. Ltd., and start up his own sneaker brand. Knight asked Davidson to create a logo “stripe” to help brand the new company. After rejecting several concepts, Knight finally settled on the one that we now know as the Swoosh. He paid Davidson $35 for her work. Initially Knight’s reception of the new logo was lukewarm. The transitioning footwear company was on a tight production deadline and Knight is said to have picked the design that he considered “least awful” and has been quoted as saying: “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me.”
Now, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the iconic Swoosh logo, Nike’s internal company history division, named the “Department of Nike Archives” or “DNA” for short, has released this cool 28-page newsprint booklet chronicling the Swoosh’s history from $35 sketch to universally-recognizable cultural symbol. Unfortunately, the publication was created for the “benefit of Nike employees” and is not available for sale to the public, but we do have several pages here from “DNA Presents 40 Years of the Swoosh” for you to check out.