The Nike "Swoosh" is a corporate trademark created in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, while she was a graphic design student at Portland State University. She met Phil Knight while he was teaching accounting classes and she started doing some freelance work for his company, Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS).
For seven years after its founding in 1964, BRS imported Onitsuka Tiger brand running shoes. In 1971, BRS decided to launch its own brand, which would first appear on a football boot called the Nike, manufactured in Mexico. Knight approached Davidson for design ideas for this new brand, and she agreed to provide them. Over the ensuing weeks, she created at least a half-dozen marks and gathered them together to present to Knight, Bob Woodell and Jeff Johnson (two BRS executives) at the company's home office, at the time located in Tigard, Oregon.
They ultimately selected the mark now known globally as the Swoosh. "I don't love it," Knight told her, "but I think it will grow on me." For her services, the company paid her $35 ($206 in 2015 dollars). In September 1983, Knight gave Davidson a golden Swoosh ring with an embedded diamond, and an envelope filled with Nike stock to express his gratitude.
In June 1972, the first running shoes bearing the Swoosh were introduced at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Until 1995, the official corporate logo for Nike featured the name Nike in Futura Bold, all-cap font, cradled within the Swoosh. In 1995, Nike began using the stand-alone Swoosh as its corporate logo as a form of debranding, and continues to use it that way today.
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- "Nikebiz : About Nike : Heritage : Origin of the Swoosh". Archived from the original on 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
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