nike mission statement

Nike Mission Statement: The Ultimate Analysis in 2022

“Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world

*If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

The NIKE mission statement example is one of the best one can ever come across. Not only is it short, simple and direct, but it also walks the talk, tying everything up so well together, from the company’s corporate statements (mission, vision & goals) through its values, beliefs & culture, down to implementations and practices.

It is the purpose of this article to critically examine the Nike mission statement: its meaning, its wins, what it does well, how it, how it has guided the company through the years, how Nike has delivered on its promises, and ultimately, why you should probably be using it as a guiding reference while writing your own mission statement.

nike mission statement

Before we do that, however, it’s important that we briefly remind ourselves of the meaning of a mission statement, what defines a great one, and why you may need it.

Mission statement: what is it and what defines a great one?

What is a mission statement?

Hubspot defines it as “an action-oriented statement declaring the purpose an organization serves to its audience.” 

According to the website, a mission statement will often include a general description of the organization, its function, and its objectives.

This is different from the vision or even purpose of an establishment. How so?

A vision statement defines where an organization is going. It paints a picture of what the future should look like after the company has reached its goals and intentions, and serves as the driving force of how the establishment defines success. Think of it in terms of destination or hope.

Purpose (statement) deals more with the emotional side of things. Both mission and vision are important to an establishment seeking to create movement and tangible results in the definition of its essence and goals.

Getting crystal clear on the idea of creating and leading with purpose and defining how it shows up daily is the piece that will tie everything together. In this context, “purpose” can be described as “a person’s sense and feeling of resolve it determination,” Hubspot explains.  Purpose concerns itself with a company’s big “why”.

Why do you do what you do? What problem are you trying to solve, or what cause are you promoting? What are the risks involved if you don’t do it? Why do you and your team show up everyday to pursue this movement?

Questions like these dig deep into the morals, ethics and beliefs of an organization, and that is what a company’s purpose is about.

What makes a mission statement different

Okay, now that we have refreshed our minds on what these three concepts mean, how does a mission differ from the rest?

A mission is like a vision with a more actionable touch to it. It’s that influencing element that will give the vision legs and momentum. Your company’s mission essentially answers the what, who, and why questions.

What does the organization do, who does it serve, and by what means does it hope to achieve its goals and vision? Among all things, perhaps, the most obvious quality that differentiates this from the rest is “time”. A mission statement is used to define the immediate goals of a company.

On the other hand, a vision statement takes a futuristic or visionary look and speaks more in the long-term.

In simple illustrative terms, vision is the picture; mission is the roadmap to that destination; and purpose is that feeling of joy and accomplishment everyone (from the president to the cleaners) has when your company’s goals have been achieved.

Another perspective: vision is the (ultimate) picture, mission is the plan, while purpose is the why. Looking closely, the first two have to do with a pursuit or target (motion), while the last deals with emotion.

The concepts are closely related but quite very separable, as we can see. There’s a rationale behind each, and they’re all vital to organizational purpose, direction, and focus.

nike mission statement

What characterizes a good mission statement?

While there’s no such thing as a perfect mission statement, generally speaking, a good mission statement should be clear and to-the-point. Length is not such a big deal, but many companies like to keep it between one to three sentences long or less than 100 words.

Short or long, though, the key thing is to craft a mission statement that captures your company’s purpose, leaves a lasting impression of your brand in the minds of your customers, and inspires them to choose you over another merchant. It should incorporate your company’s core values and reflect your organization’s personality.

The Nike mission statement, our case study for today, does the above remarkably well. At this point, let’s take a look into their mission statement, what they have done with it, and how we can learn from them to craft ours, with similar punch!

The Nike mission statement: detailed breakdown

purpose of a vision statement

Nike mission statement breakdown

The Nike mission statement is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.” It quickly adds that “*if you have a body, you are an athlete.”

Powerful, inspirational, and actionable!

Talk of the perfect mission statement – this is it. And not only does it carry so much power but it also meets the written, technical requirements of what a well-crafted mission statement should be – succinct, to-the-point, and catchy.

It all started with a handshake, when two visionaries (Phil Knight, a student and runner at the University of Oregon, and Bill Bowerman, a coach at the institution) met.

They thought they could do better of creating running shoes for athletes. They were right. Today, Nike is the world’s leading designer and seller of athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories.

Along the way, Nike has helped the world’s best athletes win races, games and competitions. The athletes, in return, have helped Nike design and sell the products and brands that changed the face of sports.

Building a community

This joint effort has helped the community continue to push through the boundaries of all that is possible, thus, justifying Nike’s mission of “bringing inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.”

Let’s examine these words again:

“to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.

*If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

What does this mean?

Has Nike lived up to this promise? Yes, and beyond!

How so? We shall see.

The Nike mission statement focuses on the influence and impact Nike has in the sports industry. It perfectly captures the ability of the company to stimulate and transform athletes into the best version of themselves.

The statement can be dissected into four distinct focus groups for analysis: bringing inspiration, delivering innovation, the athlete (with a body), and global presence.

Let’s examine each component.

nike mission statement

Nike mission statement

1. Inspiration

Talking of “bringing inspiration,” the wording of the mission statement itself is inspiring. It is Nike’s goal to inspire (encourage, motivate, spur – choose your vocab –  into action!) all athletes in the world.

From the elderly couple fighting to stay fit, to the casual fitness enthusiast, all the way up to the most elite sports men and women everywhere around the world – it doesn’t matter who you are or at what fitness level you operate; as long as you have a body, you’re by default an athlete (or should see yourself as one!)

Note how they marked the word “athlete” with an asterisks to highlight how important everyone is to the Nike movement. This opens up more opportunities for “everyone” to enjoy all the benefits that come with using Nike shoes & products and from identifying with such an elite producer of sports materials – a smart marketing strategy that would also mean more money for the company.

Aside the Nike mission statement, the company also uses some other elements of its brand assets to communicate its inspirational values. Some of these are the company’s name, slogan, logo, vision, values, advertising, and codes of conduct, for example.

Let’s explore each.

1.1. The brand name – Nike

The Nike mission statement, and the brand itself, is all about inspiration and even the brand name reflects this culture. The company adopts its name from the Greek goddess of victory, Nike.

A brief historical insight, maybe?

According to Greek mythology, Nike was the daughter of the Titan, Pallas and the Goddess, Styx (some other sources say she was the daughter of Mars, the God of War). During the “Clash of the Titans,” Nike was the charioteer of the Gods and will often be represented alongside other divinities, like Zeus and Athena, or with some other heroes whose horses she guides through victory.

The ancient Greeks erected sculptures of Nike in public places and temples to celebrate not just speed and strength in competition but also victory in war. Nike flew around battlegrounds rewarding victors with glory and fame.

nike mission statement

Nike mission statement: Greek goddess inspiration

The ancient Greeks would depict her with famous athletes, to symbolize their victories in competitions. It is said that she awarded a laurel wreath to all the winners at the athletic games held in Olympia more than 2,500 years ago.

Today, the medals awarded to the winners of bronze, silver and gold of the modern-day Olympics bear her image.

It’s been over 3,000 years, but Nike lives yet again, from Greece to Rome to an American sportswear icon. In old Greece, she was known as the goddess of strength, speed and victory, which make her an ideal representation of a sportswear brand and a perfect inspiration for today’s athletes.

A brand name couldn’t be more fitting!

1.2. The tagline / slogan – Just Do It

“Just do it”

You may find this slogan really inspiring if you are a business owner or even researcher!

This powerful slogan is often presented alone or alongside the iconic Nike swoosh on all Nike owned materials, to inspire many around the world. The slogan is widely regarded by many publications and journalists as the best slogan of the 20th century.

The marketing and psychological intentions was (and is) to connect the current situation with people and empower them to believe that they too can be successful by wearing Nike products.

It is reported that from 1988 to 1998 alone, through its “Just Do It” campaign, Nike was able to boost its share of North American sport-shoe sales from 18% to 43% (from $877 million to $9.2 billion) in a worldwide sales.

Remarkably successful, the slogan resonated deeply in the athletic community and just as profoundly, too, with people who have little or no connection to sports. We can find lots of just-do-it comments and memes on the internet, with connotations ranging from humorous to sarcastic.

Some people adopted it as a way of life. Expectedly, Nike capitalized on this in some of its advertising, especially in ads that linked sports commitment with women empowerment.

unique slogan brand tagline - just do it nike

Nike mission statement

“Just Do It” continues to be used in much of Nike’s advertising and marketing. The Nike tagline is as relevant today as it was 23 years ago. Nike would keep moving and would go as far as translating the slogan into many, many different languages, in its mission of inspiring every athlete in the planet.

The American Foundation for the Blind honored Nike with the 1995 Access Award for creating and distributing a Just-Do-It poster designed in braille.

Nike says that it finds this slogan to be one of its most effective brand assets that help invite people to join them in what they believe in and what they stand for, which is to serve and honor athletes.

One of the beauties of the “Just Do It” slogan is that you can apply the concept to almost anything. It’s flexible and easy to remember; gets to the heart of any issue. It’s a great motivation and can shake people out of a downward spiral when they feel like they need to push through to a goal.

1.3. Logo – the Swoosh

The Nike Swoosh is one of the world’s most powerful, iconic and recognizable logos of all times. Its simplicity is engaging, its modernity is rejuvenating and its majesty echoes authority.

The logo represents the wings of the Greek goddess Nike, who personified victory. The strong, bold and victorious goddess was to be Nike’s symbolism of light, hope and influence, a concept the logo sought to capture.

The logo is more than a swoosh, according to Nike – it’s a weapon. The wings of the Nike goddess were believed to have the powers to motivate and embolden warriors going to meet their fate on the battleground.

Today, the swoosh still strikes with die-hard motivation and ferocious boldness, leaving in its wake a passion that drives people to action. Nike believes that its logo is that perfect symbol to inspire and sail to victory anyone who wears or uses their products.

It comes with a legacy and heritage centered around striving for greatness and taking an inward look to find that creativity and passion.

nike logos

Nike logos / Nike mission statement

1.4. Vision

It is near impossible to talk about the Nike mission statement without touching, at least, briefly on its vision, as well.

Nike’s vision is to “do everything possible to expand human potential.” The image painted by this powerful statement is that Nike does not settle for normal and would stop at nothing in ensuring that it gives its customers the best there is in the world of sports. Rather, the company goes for the most dynamic and simple but incredibly efficient designs with remarkable impact on the users.

In line with this code, the Nike vision statement is centered around three main ideas: improvement of lives, exceeding expectations, and expanding human potentials.

This Nike vision works in collaboration with the company’s mission to set the growth path towards the desired future.

1.5. Values

Nike’s values include inspiration, innovation, every athlete in the world, authenticity, connectedness, sustainability, performance and distinction. In their varying degrees of importance, these values define what Nike holds dear in its quest to becoming and remaining the best there is.

At the center of it all, though, is inspiration and innovation. These are substantially the drivers of every business decision that Nike makes.

Nike emphasizes the need to maintain top inspiration among its employees and within its community at large. The company stresses on designing and producing innovation-driven products that are authentic and globally accessible to all athletes.

Nike also places a premium on community, which starts with building relationships with all its stakeholders who contribute to making the company unique.

To get more insight into how Nike prioritizes motivation as a guiding value for its employees, customers and all stakeholders, you can check out Nike’s The 11 Mantras here:

nike mission statement

1.6. Advertising / media

In order to understand the Nike mission statement, it’s important to zoom in on advertising and media as well. Nike campaigns are targeted at a wide range of global users, regardless of age, gender or physical fitness level. This makes Nike apparel not only available for just fitness but also as fashion statements.

To attract customers and promote Nike as a trusted brand for both ordinary people and professional athletes, Nike enlists people from different ethnicities and races, including many famous athletes.

Some of the famous persons (past and present) from the sports community who have featured in Nike adverts include: Ronaldinho & Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer), Michael Jordan & LeBron James (basketball), and Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal (tennis).

Using pro athletes and slogans promoting sportsmanship and health, Nike portrays the image of an innovative brand associated with success. Customers unconsciously begin to relate their purchases with the hope of achieving greatness.

2. Innovation

The reason Nike has toppled giants (like Converse and Adidas) and remained at the top of the game-chain boils down to its tenacious clamor for designing and producing the most versatile, esthetically pleasing, and ultimately dependable products.

It achieves this by enlisting the most creative minds in its team of professionals to drive its innovative schemes when launching any products. In fact, Nike’s House of Innovations displays a wealth of artifacts and facts that highlight the company’s commitment to innovations in the sports industry.

Speaking of innovation, Nike started with running shoes. From there it moved into designing shoes for other sports, then into other sports apparels.

Today, Nike is known not only for making footwear and apparels but for various types of sports and fitness equipment. And in this journey, Nike continues to prioritize sustainability of its products, as well as explore new ways to keep the ecosystem clean for everyone.


Nike mission statement

In their own words, through the Nike President/CEO:

“Today, we’re redefining sport for a new generation. Whether it’s prioritizing mental health and well-being;… We’re innovating to meet the challenges of climate change – designing products with circularity in mind, giving new life to worn footwear and apparel, and collaborating across the industry to reduce our collective footprint.

We’re more focused than ever on building a diverse, inclusive team and culture, because creating the change we want to see starts with us. And through our platforms and partnerships, we’re inspiring and empowering others to join us in working toward a more equitable future.”

Now that’s innovative thinking around the Nike mission statement!

3. The athlete – with a body

The Nike mission statement revolves around an interesting concept. Nike believes that there is no barrier to success as long as you have a body – “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

That’s how audacious Nike can be and it expects its community to adopt the same mindset. Nike is on a mission to “redefine sport for a new generation,” according to them.

The company continues to push boundaries and explore avenues to make its products accessible to and impact felt by everyone, regardless of age, gender, fitness level and even location.

Today, there are running shoes and equipment for athletes in different sports; there are apparels as fashion statements for ordinary people; there are special gears and equipment for the physically challenged. Nike would stop at nothing and continues to push the frontiers of what’s possible.

athlete with a body - nike mission statement

Nike mission statement: Athlete with a body

Today, Nike has programs set up to expand opportunity for women and girls; they are investing in youth sports and addressing barriers to access; and “helping more kids and communities discover the power of play and movement, we’re working to shape a more equal, active, and inclusive future.”

According to Comparably, in 2019 Nike partnered with WNBA to launch Woman in Nike (WIN), an initiative designed to “provide dynamic work experience for retired or retiring WNBA players.

In the same year, Nike, Converse, Jordan Brand and Michael Jordan teamed up in a multimillion dollar investment to address racial inequality, as well as increase financial literacy among America’s youths.

Bottom line: Nike remains steadfast in its belief in “roles and opportunity for impact in the world” and in its commitment to breaking barriers. It has lived up to this promise through diverse selfless strategies (across multiple frontiers) designed to impact everyone onboard.

4. Global presence

In this component, Nike makes it clear that it is a company that wants its presence felt on a global scale.

The passion to achieve this goal explains the diversification strategy of the company to include a wide range of products targeting different athletes across the globe. For example, Nike launched a program called Signature Initiatives that look to grow sports talents across the world.

Final thoughts

The success of any establishment starts with its mission. When there is a clear purpose and a defined path, it becomes easy to create a working culture that is unique and sustainable.

This is what Nike managed to do outstandingly well.

The Nike mission statement links up well with every other component of the company’s identity and offering: the brand’s other corporate statements (vision, purpose & values) and its brand identities (name, logo & slogan), as well as its policies, procedures and executions.

What is even more remarkable is how everything is so strategically woven around a central theme – INSPIRATION.

Arguably, we can say that this culture is what attracts a lot of people to want to work for Nike, as well as a lot of clients who buy into Nike products. Through the evolution and effective executions of its mission and other corporate purposes, Nike has been able to grow and maintain its global market position as a leading producer of sports footwear, apparel, and equipment.

So, that is it for the infamous mission statement of Nike! A lot of people have used this mission statement as an inspiration to write their own (you can, too!) It meets both the technical and emotional requirements of what a great mission statement should be.

Now, the question for you: What did you think about the Nike mission statement? Does your company have a mission statement?

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