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.

17 thoughts on “Nike vs. Adidas

  1. It is funny that you mention Michael Jordan and the connection to the Nike brand. I recently did a project about Sneaker Culture. Sneaker Culture has a long history of endorsements with sports celebrities. One of the first sports celebrities was Michael Jordan. Nike used these sports celebrities to gain loyalty to their brand.

  2. I definitely recognize these brands by their symbol. Semiotics are important within a brand and I believe with a eye-catching symbol the brand has a better chance of gaining consumers attention. The Nike swoosh is most recognized, but it is helpful to have a catchy slogan as well. I feel like the semiotics used for each of these brands has popularized them and led to their success.

  3. I agree that there’s something about Nike’s slogan that seems to stick with customers more. I never even knew the slogan for Adidas until reading this article. Maybe to some the logos of both brands would be equally recognizable, but it would take me a few seconds longer to recognize the Adidas logo without the word than I would the Nike symbol. Either way, I have always thought about both brands as high-quality sneakers, and have never really perceived that one was more quality than the other.

  4. I’m personally a fan of both of them. I LOVE their shoes, I’m a huge sneaker fan. I’m not sure if this is a thing but I was told you weren’t supposed to mix the two brands together when wearing them. I just thought that was funny because you really don’t see people mix and match these two brands.

  5. I agree that these are the two major sports brands that can be recognized almost anywhere. When you mention Michael Jordan and wanting to wear Nike because that’s what he wore and you wanted to be him, I believe that is a major factoring in marketing. This can occur weekly in golf, who ever wins that week especially if its a Major, sales go up the next day for that company. Everyone wants to wear and play what the winner has. This is like a competition of not just have the best product but having the best athletes wear their product.

  6. I love both of these brands! I think it’s interesting that both brands find a way to connect to everyone, not just athletes. They have both found a way to use the way our society views a healthy lifestyle to promote different products and I think they both do a great job by emotionally connecting with different individuals.

  7. Being a HUGE sneaker fan, I’d have to say I’m a fan of both! Recently I’ve found myself transitioning to being more of an Adidas person for the simple fact that their shoes are way more comfortable. I agree that Nike’s slogan sticks with customers more maybe due to the iconic Michael Jordan wearing them. But perhaps if he went with Adidas back in the 80’s would that brand be more popular? Great read!

  8. This is like anything else pretty much-dividing things up. By who has the better product. Personally I like them both. Due to the fact that each one that has something that is better than the other. For example, when it comes to baseball cleats I go for Adidas because there super light and with being affordable. With Nike I like their athletic wear cause it stuff that can fit into your everyday attire.

  9. I would have to agree that the Nike slogan quickly comes to mind just when one sees the swoosh. A lot of people are not aware of the slogan that goes along with the Adidas sign. Personally I am a fan of both brands from their shoes to their clothing. I think of both brands as being high quality that both have a hand in the sneaker culture.

  10. In regards to the adidas logo verses the nike logo, I think that Nike’s reigns supreme. A logo certainly speaks for the company in a positive way when the name isn’t incorporated somewhere in the logo. There are not many people that couldn’t recognize that the swoop is the Nike logo. However, if adidas were to take away the “adidas” text from their logo, it would not look right, and consumers might struggle to figure out what brand is being represented. Although Nike has always had a slight edge over adidas, I do agree that they are on the same playing field. Recently, adidas has embraced a less athletic appeal that they might have been competing for against brands like Nike and Under Armour, to settle for a more casual, but trendy appeal to its consumers. I personally own Adidas’ “Superstar” sneakers, as of right now and I am hoping to get an Adidas shirt and ball cap for Christmas. I don’t know what it is about those items that I love so much and have to have, but I do! Celebrities, Social Media Influencers, and my peers wear Adidas apparel and it looks adorable on them, so I want it too. If adidas hadn’t exploded recently the way that they did with their new “trendy over athletic” movement, then I would still be wearing my Nike sneakers on a regular basis instead of my Adidas “Superstar’s”.

  11. I agree that these companies do a fantastic job at creating brand loyalty. Since both of these companies have been around for a relatively long time, they are well known and have had time to incorporate themselves into the lives of several generations. By growing up with these brands, customers are more likely to buy their products as they have a familiarity with the brand.

  12. Ironically, I was just having a conversation with one of my friends about Nike and Adidas. Nike used to be the top of the line, then Under Armour, then Adidas, then Reebok. I even saw Adidas being sold at Walmart for a short period of time. It seemed almost like overnight Adidas became popular again. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Kanye West, Gigi Hadid, etc were starting to wear Adidas and then I started seeing average people wearing it more and more.

  13. When you think of sports brands two of the most popular are indeed Adidas and Nike. As a kid growing up Adidas was a big brand in the 1990’s. It seemed as if Adidas sort of fell off in terms of popularity for almost a decade when it came to clothing and shoes until the brand reinvented themselves with the hashtag #Originals. The company gained the attention of those of us who used to sport their clothing and wear their shoes. A sort of nostalgia came into play with the brand of Adidas when it brought back some of it’s classic looks and styles. Nike has had some big names support their company and are well known in just about every sport. When you look at Nike and Adidas it seems to depend on what sport you’re watching or playing that affiliates themselves with each brand. Sports such as Soccer seem to wear more Adidas and football typically seems to wear more Nike. Regardless of the sport or preference both companies are extremely successful and are globalized Brands.

  14. I would have to say I’m more of a Nike fan than Adidas. Something about their logo caught my eye growing up. Players of the NBA having almost all Nike, Jordan brand shoes growing up, I had it imprinted they are the better brand since I can remember. Recently Kanye West has released an extremely desirable line of shoes with Adidas as well as some NBA players getting shoe contracts from Adidas. Maybe this will change the views of the younger generation to lean more towards Adidas but to me personally Nike ruled the shoe game in the early 2000’s.

  15. First of all, this article was really well-written! It is interesting to compare and contrast Nike and Adidas and the effect they have on consumers. Nike is definitely more popular and it does not get much better than their “Just Do It” slogan. It is such a simple phrase but it holds so much power. The idea is that you have to take action and do something because nobody else is going to do it for you. If you have a goal in mind, it does not matter how much you think about it if you do not actually pursue it. This brand narrative is very attractive to people, especially athletes who are driven and dedicated to performing well and improving themselves. Adidas is great too and still a very popular brand. I honestly did not know their slogan was “Impossible is Nothing.” I didn’t even know they had a slogan, but I like it! In my opinion it cannot beat Nike but Adidas is still an awesome brand. It seems like people choose one over the other, and for me that is definitely Nike.

  16. I never knew the meaning of the Adidas symbol until now! I love Nike’s, but Adidas has always been my preferred brand. Being a rugby player, finding cleats was always really difficult until I found pairs made by Adidas specifically for rugby. Since then I have stuck with the brand for most of my casual and active footwear as well as most of my active apparel.

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