Behind Nike's "Just Do It" Branding

Nike’s “Just Do It” branding is recognised by just about everyone in the modern world. You may see it as a motivational message to get off the couch or a bullying command to get you to do something – Nike’s three word slogan maximises it’s meaning and works on a multitude of levels. Nike’s Just Do It as a slogan encompasses the brand’s competitiveness, sportsmanship and forceful attitude. Nike’s slogan is so recognised around the world, it doesn’t even need to mention the brand’s name for someone to recognise who it stands for.

Nike’s First Female Focused Marketing Campaign with the famous “Just Do It” Slogan.

Behind the Slogan

Nike’s slogan was born from a dark past. The creative agency that was tasked with coming up with the motto was apparently inspired by the final words of a notorious killer in 1970s Utah, who muttered the words “Let’s Do It” as he faced down the barrel’s of a firing squad. The agency liked the “Do It” part of the phrase and changed it to “Just Do It” thinking it’d work. No one at the time working for Nike thought the phrase would work or have the impact it has had – it really is a true staple of how a slogan can influence a brand.

“None of us really paid that much attention. We thought ‘Yeah. That’d work.”

Nike went on to love the slogan which can relate to both elite athlete’s and the new runner alike. Nike debuted the slogan in an 1988 commercial about an 80 year old runner named “Walt Stack”. The advert and slogan resonated with audiences, increasing sales substantially.

Walt Stack Nike Commercial

“Just Do It” Future

The “Just Do It” slogan resonated deeply in every aspect of life, it really did accomplish everything the creative agency thought it would. For some it became a slogan to live by, for others it pushed them to get things done. The slogan travelled far and wide, even winning awards for it’s slogan being produced on a braille poster.

Nike is still utilising the slogan today, with executives praising how important branding is to the brand:

“I think that’s why ‘Just Do It’ has had such an impact over the last 20 years and continues to. It’s genuine and speaks to our core mission.”
Davide Grasso, VP of global brand marketing at Nike