How does a company that started as a distributor of Japanese footwear become arguably one of the biggest apparel brands in the world? The answer to this question may have a lot to do with brand equity. David Aker, a specialist in marketing with a focus on brand strategy, defines brand equity as a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand name and symbol, which add or subtract from the value provided by a product or service (Aaker, 2013).So let’s look at how the apparel and footwear mega-brand Nike built it brand equity to become what some regard as “the best sports brand ever”.
One of the biggest elements in creating a valuable brand is developing brand loyalty. To strengthen brand loyalty, the relationship between the brand and the customer needs to be rich, meaningful and consistent over time (Aaker, 2014). How has Nike mastered this relationship?Nike has done so by inspiring customers. Nike doesn’t just sell sports gear; it sells a lifestyle, a mindset, a belief. This inspiration has been an intricate part of the company since it began. Nike Co-founder, Bill Bowerman emphasized this idea even more when he stated, “If you have a body, you are an athlete”. Nike’s advertising often incorporates this statement with the common theme of heroism (Westwood, 2015). It inspires customers to compete not with others but with themselves. That could manifest itself in a customer as competing with laziness to become more active or pushing the limits internally to become a better athlete. Because of this marketing, customers are inspired to improve themselves and they see the Nike brand as a way to do that. This type of connection with a brand fosters brand loyalty.Brand Awareness is all about how familiar consumers are with your brand. Nike undoubtedly possesses this element of brand equity (Aaker, 2014). The Nike brand name is often top of mind when thinking about sports apparel, footwear and gear. Personally, when I think of athleticism and sports, the first brand that comes to my mind is Nike followed by Adidas and Under Armour. Nike has carved out this coveted space amongst its competitors in large part by the endorsements and partnerships it has developed over the years. For example, when you think about the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan may come to mind. The thought of Michael Jordan may lead one to think of the Chicago Bulls or UNC Chapel Hill. However, I would argue that one of the first thoughts that come to mind is the Air Jordan shoe. Thus, ultimately leading you back.