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Built On Purpose: Nike

Welcome back to another issue of Built On Purpose. This week we’ll be taking a look at one of the mos

Built On Purpose

May 27 · Issue #19 · View online
A newsletter which introduces you to a great, purposeful, and inspiring company every other week.

Welcome back to another issue of Built On Purpose. This week we’ll be taking a look at one of the most iconic brands in the world, Nike. 
Before we get started, if you have a minute, I’d love to get your input on what you’d like to see in future issues. Here’s a simple survey with only two questions. Thanks.

Last summer Serena Williams returned to the French Open after giving birth to her daughter. She won the first round wearing a black bodysuit instead of the usual women tennis uniform. Resembling the costume of Black Panther, the special outfit was designed for her by Nike to help prevent blood clots, which she had been experiencing for the past year. She said that she felt like a “warrior princess” when wearing it. 
The following day Nike stood up. 
The 30th anniversary of Just Do It
Winding back the clock to 2016, San Francisco 49ers football athlete Colin Kaepernick was not satisfied about the current state of racial injustice in US. He decided to protest and did so by kneeling down instead of standing during the US national anthem throughout the season. This controversial move caused him to remain unsigned after the season. 
Fast forward to 2018, the 30-year anniversary of Nike’s iconic “Just Do It” tagline. Despite not affiliated with any team, Nike signed Kaepernick and in a bold move to make him the face of the important campaign. The campaign features the black-and-white close up photo of Kaepernick’s face with the message: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” (If you’re interested, here’s the TV ad: Dream Crazy featuring him.)
Why Nike does what it does.
Reflecting on the two examples above, I wondered why a company that makes shoes and athletic apparel did what it did? Why go to the extent of making statements that might create a stir on social media and risk damaging their brand? Was it to create buzz? Sure, but that’s only a tiny part of it. There’s something more fundamental and profound here. 
To truly understand the actions of NIke, we must understand what they stand for, why they exist. 
Our purpose is to use the power of sport to move the world forward. We believe in a fair, sustainable future—one where everyone thrives on a healthy planet and level playing field.
Unraveling this purpose statement sheds light on their actions. In the above examples, the actions are clearly justified and driven by the principles of “fairness” and “level playing field” in their purpose statement. Over and over, we see a majority of Nike’s activities and actions aligned to this purpose to create a consistent brand experience. 
What Nike stands for
Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.
*If you have a body, you are an athlete.
To use the power of sport to move the world forward.
Wrapping things up
Of course, be sure to check out the book Shoe Dog, the memoir from Nike’s founder to learn more about how Nike got here.
In a way, Apple’s legendary Think Different campaign was inspired by Nike. See Steve Jobs introducing the Think Different campaign and talk about Nike in this video.
And speaking of Apple, CEO Tim Cook gave a speech at Tulane University Commencement this year. You can find the transcript here, but here’s my favorite part: 
For me, it was that search for greater purpose that brought me to Apple in the first place. I had a comfortable job at a company called Compaq that at the time looked like it was going to be on top forever… But in 1998, Steve Jobs convinced me to leave Compaq behind to join a company that was on the verge of bankruptcy. They made computers, but at that moment at least, people weren’t interested in buying them. Steve had a plan to change things. And I wanted to be a part of it. It wasn’t just about the iMac, or the iPod, or everything that came after. It was about the values that brought these inventions to life. The idea that putting powerful tools in the hands of everyday people helps unleash creativity and move humanity forward. That we can build things that help us imagine a better world and then make it real.
That is all for this issue. Next issue we’ll be looking at newcomers who are challenging home and furniture giant IKEA. See you then.

With Purpose,
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