Nike says that its corporate operations and its retail stores are all about the athletes they serve and the inspiration and innovation that the company's products provide to those consumers. Moreover, the company continuously pushes the idea that the public should redefine what it means to be an athlete.
The use of the term "athlete" typically evokes images of players engaging in professional or college sports. Nike is a major sponsor and provider of apparel for these highly trained players, but company says they are trying to change people's perceptions of what an athlete is.
'If You Have a Body, You're an Athlete'
Nike's mission statement is to "bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world." Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman reportedly added the asterisk, explaining that "if you have a body, you are an athlete."
The company hopes this message of inclusiveness can be taken as encouragement for everyone to be active. Nike has run ad campaigns featuring athletes who are wheelchair-bound and who pursue their passions for sports. From a financial perspective, Nike's mission statement also widens the company's scope to pursue anyone and everyone as a potential customer for its merchandise.
In addition to its corporate mission statement, Nike developed guiding principles referred to as its “11 Maxims.” These principles are meant to give a sense of direction and purpose to employees at all levels of the corporation:
- It is our nature to innovate.
- Nike is a company.
- Nike is a brand.
- Simplify and go.
- The consumer decides.
- Be a sponge.
- Evolve immediately.
- Do the right thing.
- Master the fundamentals.
- We are on the offense—always.
- Remember the man [the late Bill Bowerman, Nike co-founder]."
Nike has also developed what it calls its manager manifesto, a set of core principles that describe how its managers should lead with excellence. These core principles are to lead, coach, drive, and inspire.
Nike's world headquarters are located in Beaverton, Ore. The Nike EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) headquarters are located in The Netherlands. The company began as Blue Ribbon Sports on Jan. 25, 1964, launching with a $500 investment from each of its two founding partners, Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman.
Knight was a middle-distance track and field competitor at the University of Oregon, and Bowerman was his coach. Bowerman's reputation and renown were top notch. The two men started Blue Ribbon Sports as distributors of shoes manufactured by the Onitsuka company in Japan. Their first retail operation opened as a BRS store in Santa Monica, Calif., in 1966. Then Bowerman conceived the idea of a grooved pattern on shoes' soles that would create a superior grip on a track. Supposedly, this inspiration came from his wife's waffle iron, which did not survive his initial experiments.
Based on this concept, Blue Ribbon Sports expanded beyond the shoe distribution business to become a shoe manufacturer in the early 1970s. The company officially became Nike Inc. on May 30, 1978, a name credited to the imagination of the company's first employee, Jeff Johnson. Nike is the Greek goddess of victory.
The corporation no longer confines itself to just manufacturing and selling shoes. Nike now includes apparel and accessories that bear the distinctive "swoosh" logo.