With its 40th anniversary just around the corner, the internationally recognized Nike Swoosh symbol illustrates the potential immortality of inventive marketing. Little did Carolyn Davidson know that her simple, black, curvy checkmark design would become the face of a sports apparel empire.
According to Oregeonlive, Davidson was a graphic design student at Portland State University in 1971, when she had the chance opportunity to present her ideas to the representatives from Blue Ribbon Sports, Nike's predecessor. But Davidson had met one Nike executive, Phil Knight, a few years earlier when he was an accounting professor at Portland State University and running Blue Ribbon Sports on the side.
Oregonlive reported that Knight hired Davidson on part time to create charts and graphics, but eventually asked her for logo ideas. The logo needed to symbolize motion, but have an unique identity from the logos of Adidas, Puma, or Onitsuka's Tiger.
After weeks of doodling, Davidson described in an interview, she had five or six ideas to present to Phil Knight, Jeff Johnson and Bob Woodell.
"Well, I don't love it, but maybe it will grow on me," was Knight's initial reaction to the Swoosh.
But the Swoosh design did grow on the three men, Davidson charged them only $35 for her work without knowing how many hours were actually spent on the project.