Nike vs. Adidas

When looking at the Nike and Adidas logo, what do you see?


Semiotics is often over looked by the consumers of brands such as Nike and Adidas. As for these billion dollar companies, they use semiotics to enhance their brand without you even realizing it. Semiotics is the study of signs or symbols and their use or interpretation.


Nike was established in 1972 by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. It has become the worlds largest athletic company that brings in billions of dollars. The Nike logo has become the single most recognizable logo in sports. The Swoosh represents speed and motion. The word ‘swoosh’ is onomatopoeia for the sound from the motion and speed. Nike also has the slogan “Just Do It” and it serves as a cornerstone to go along side the swoosh. You can recognize either one of these, the swoosh or the slogan “Just Do It” and automatically know it is the Nike brand.


Adidas was started in 1949 by a man named Adolf Dassler in Herzogenaurach, Germany. It is the second largest athletic company right behind Nike. I personally believe Adidas is on the same level as Nike when it comes to recognizing it’s logo in sports. When you see three lines that kind of look like a pyramid, you instantly know it is Adidas. This logo is said to symbolize “the challenge to be faced and the goals to be achieved.” Adidas has a slogan as well, “Impossible is Nothing”, but it does not resonate with it’s consumers as much as the “Just Do It” slogan does with Nike’s consumers.


Both Nike and Adidas brands play to both sides of the consumer spectrum, attracting both the active and casual lifestyle. Three main areas of their products is sneakers, apparel and equipment. I personally only wear Nike because growing up in the Tar Heel state and being a huge Michael Jordan fan, I always saw him wearing Nike and I wanted to be just like him. This just goes to show how the power of a symbol can be instilled in a child at a young age, and with this, gaining a lifelong costumer.