Brand Highlight: Nike

July 10, 2021

A leader in athletic apparel, Nike reigns supreme for corporate customization too.

Committed to Quality and So Much More

Nike’s official mission statement:

“Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.”
*If you have a body, you are an athlete.

Nike’s official purpose statement:

Our purpose is to unite the world through sport to create a healthy planet, active communities, and an equal playing field for all.

Nike’s core values:
  • Innovation
  • Sustainability
  • Responsible Sourcing
  • Diverse Community
  • Equality

For decades the high quality of Nike’s products has been taken for granted, and the company has focused on engaging consumers on an emotional level. Nike President and CEO John Donahoe will tell you that, “Nike is a brand of hope and inspiration. We believe in the power of sport to bring out the best in people, and the potential of people to bring out the best in our world. Ultimately, everything we do is grounded in a greater purpose: to redefine human potential—in the game and around the globe.”

How It All Began

The company that would become Nike was founded in 1964 after Bill Bowerman, a track-and-field coach at the University of Oregon, was introduced to some Japanese running shoes by his former student Phil Knight, an MBA grad from Stanford. With an initial investment of $1200, Blue Ribbon Sports was created, with Bowerman focusing on product design and Knight on sales. Knight sold the shoes from his car at track meets across the Pacific northwest while still working his full-time job as an accountant. By 1969, Knight was finally earning enough from Blue Ribbon Sports to make it his full-time job. In 1978 Blue Ribbon Sports was renamed Nike, based on the suggestion of employee Jeff Johnson. The company is based in Beaverton, Oregon, and comprises the Nike, Converse and Jordan brands. It’s valued at more than $35 million today.

Here are some Nike historical tidbits you might not know:

  • In 1971, Carolyn Davidson, a university graphic design student was paid $35 to create a logo for Blue Ribbon Sports’ new football shoe called the Nike. (Lovers of mythology know Nike as the Greek winged goddess of victory.) The logo featured the name Nike nested in the now iconic swoosh. The shoe logo Davidson designed was adopted as Nike’s company logo in 1978. It wasn’t until 1995 that the Nike name was dropped from the logo and only the swoosh was used. 
  • The mega-brand’s tagline—Just Do It—debuted way back in 1988.Thirty-three years later this phrase still resonates because all of us need a little kick in the pants, uh, motivation to get off the couch and get active! 
  • Nike created the first competitive shoes for distance runners—the Moon shoe introduced in 1972—with low weight featuring a waffle outsole. A waffle iron, similar to Bill Bowerman’s inspiration and first mold for the shoe sole, is on display in the company’s Beaverton headquarters.
  • When coaching track at the University of Oregon, Bowerman sought out a local cobbler to learn more shoes because he was always trying to optimize the shoes of his runners. One of his students, Otis Davis, was reportedly wearing a pair of Bowerman customized shoes when he won the gold in the 400-meter dash in the 1960 Olympics. 
  • In 1967 Bowerman wrote a book about jogging as a new form of exercise for everyone. Suddenly running was not just for track stars anymore.
  • The Nike corporate NYC headquarters was opened in June of 2017 to serve as the company’s hub for New York City and the Eastern United States.

Some of Our Favorite Nike Items 

In 1979, one year after the company changed its name to Nike, it began to make and market a line of athletic apparel. Today, footwear represents 64% of sales and apparel is 32%. The company has never been one to coast along on its success, but has continued to energetically innovate new designs, including high tech fabrications, across the board. Nike corporate apparel makes desirable swag for customers, clients and employees. Here are some of our faves:

1. Legend Tee

Again, with a nod to the athleisure trend, Nike’s Legend tees, featuring their Dri-FIT fabric, are perfect for workouts and work. Custom Nike business casual shirts like these tees make great corporate swag for onboarding or an event like your next company picnic. 

2. Brasilia Duffel

We love this classic duffel with its functional design, sleek lines and roominess. It’s perfect for trips to the gym or to somewhere fun for the weekend. Custom Nike duffel bags given as swag will keep your brand on view wherever they go. 

3. Utility Heat Backpack

The padded Utility Heat Backpack is large enough to secure your laptop and features shoulder straps with Max Air cushioning to keep it comfortable for long-haul carrying.

4. Nike Brasilia Gym Sack

Of course this minimalistic lightweight “backpack” design works as a gym bag, but on casual occasions it can also do double duty as a purse. This unisex item is a very cost-effective choice when it comes to corporate Nike items you can select for your customized swag.

5. Nike Heritage Hip Pack

Wear it at your waist or diagonally across your back, it’s just right for easy access to keys, phone and wallet.

6. Nike Utility Tote

Yes, this is designed to keep your sweaty shoes separate from other items in your gym bag, but it can also be used to organize small items in a suitcase.

7. Nike ½ Zip Coverups

Classic style with flat knit collar and cuffs and open hem plus the Dri-FIT performance you love from Nike these ½ zip cover ups for him and her are a go-to, go-everywhere wardrobe staple.

8. Nike Hats

A visor, beanie or classic ball cap—whichever you choose—will make fun nike corporate apparel swag for your next tradeshow or event.

9. Nike Long-Sleeve Polo

Long sleeves elevate this polo to another level of sophistication while Dri-FIT moisture management technology guarantees the comfortable stretch fabric keeps you cool and dry. And don’t forget, Nike corporate polo shirts would make great onboarding gifts for new employees.

10. Nike Short-Sleeve Polo

Last but definitely not least, the classic polo. Named Legacy for a reason, this feel good staple offers the DRI Fit technology everyone loves and is available in multiple colors.

Game Changers

Nike has grown into a mega-brand not just by creating shoes and apparel adored by athletes, celebrities, and regular people like us, but because they’ve demonstrated commitment to facilitating healthier people, healthier communities, and a healthier planet. And, isn’t that what we all want? We want to buy from companies that do good things and care about people, right? Nike wins our hearts because they are committed to: 


To better reflect the diversity of the athletes and people who love their products, and the communities they serve Nike has worked to build a diverse and inclusive corporate team and culture. Representation of women in the company has risen to almost 50% of their workforce globally. Racial and ethnic minorities now comprise 29% of their VP Leadership Team in the US.

Diversity and inclusion also extends to the product line. This year’s new Nike N7 Collection is rooted in the ancestral artwork and regalia significant to the Tribal Nations represented by athletes Lyle Thompson, Lauren Schad, and Kyrie Irving, who hail from the Onondaga Nation to Cheyenne River Lakota Nation and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. 


Move to Zero is Nike’s strategy to attain zero carbon and zero waste. According to the company’s impact report for 2020:

  • They have attained 100% renewable energy in their owned or operated facilities in the US and Canada. 
  • Their textile dyeing and finishing suppliers have reduced their use of fresh water by 30%. 
  • And their Tier 1 finished goods footwear suppliers have diverted 99.9% of manufacturing waste from landfills.

Nike Refurbished is another way Nike is seeking to reduce its waste footprint by extending the lifespan for three types of footwear: like new (maybe worn for a day or two before being returned), gently worn (a little longer) and cosmetically flawed (think: something like a small snag that happened in manufacturing).

And have you heard of the Nike Grind? No, it’s not coffee. Nike Grind materials are the product of recycled end-of-life shoes and manufacturing scrap that can be used to create something new. It began as a grassroots initiative in 1992 to repurpose shoes headed for landfills and is now a global sustainability program. 


Nike’s Made to Play program is a global commitment to getting kids moving and reflects their belief that “an active next generation means a healthier and more equitable future.” 

They’ve collaborated with partners like the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to create a training module—Coaching Girls—to teach volunteer youth coaches how to create a culture that makes sports fun and inclusive for girls.

And if you live in New York City, you might be a member of Nike NYC and enjoying the community of fellow movers and shakers in the Nike NYC Run Club or Training club.

Custom Nike Items

Customize your own Nike swag for customers, clients and employees and your brand will benefit from the generosity of your gift as well as from being associated with this top brand. Custom Nike items that are popular for corporate swag include:

With the country seeming to move toward more laid-back casual attire for the workplace, tracksuits just might become the custom Nike business suits of the future. It could happen. In the meantime, we’ll settle for pairing work pants with a polo or a tee with our suit. We are seeing more business suits being paired with athletic shoes these days. Use your own judgement, of course!

And while we’re talking about customizing and shoes, Nike offers a collection of athletic shoes you can customize by selecting your preference of color for different components. So if you want to create your idea of the best custom Nike Blazers, best custom Nike Dunks, custom Nike Janoskis,custom Nike Air Force Ones, or whatever your favorite style is, just visit the Nike website. 

Up Your Game with Athleisure Swag

The athleisure fashion trend, which has been coming on strong for the past several years, took off like a rocket during the pandemic with so many people working from home. Looking ahead to how companies will function post-pandemic, it’s predicted that workplace environments will be more laid-back and casual, as will the accepted attire for those returning to the office. This makes the athleisure so desirable for corporate swag.

A sure-fire way to create the best athleisure swag is to use a company like Gemnote who offers top-quality, in-demand athleisure brands, a variety of customizing options, plus services like kitting, warehousing, and more. And, if you’re not sure where to start or are thinking about additional items outside of apparel, bags, and accessories, reach out to one of the representatives at Gemnote. They’ll show you a curated collection of additional tailored to your business, your brand and your budget. 

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