PodcastBrand Analysis: Nike

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Solving for B°
Brand Analysis: Nike

Just Do It.

Any mention of that phrase and we're betting you think of Nike, one of the world’s most iconic, global brands. For years, they’ve invested in their brand, using bold, sometimes controversial advertising to build a loyal following among athletes, celebrities, and consumers.

In this episode, we break down what it takes to build and maintain a global brand like Nike.

Episode Outline

**This transcript has been edited for readability

Chris: Welcome into Solving for B. I'm your host, Chris Wilks, and I'm joined today by the Director of Brand Experience, Cynthia Stipeche, CEO, Bo Bothe, and Chairman, Jonathan Fisher.

Today's topic is a brand analysis of Nike, and what we want to discuss is who they are as a brand, how they've gotten where they are, and talk about what makes them such a strong brand that resonates with so many across the world.

Defining Nike's Brand

Chris: How would you guys describe Nike's brand?

Bo: I've had a long love affair with Nike's brand since I was twelve years old. Nike has always been a "get out there and go do it" kind of company, and they captured that really well with the "Just Do It" slogan in the late '80s and early '90s. Not to mention the way they've built their brand around the high profile athletes and taking on social issues over time, though they've had some of their own social issues.

I think they've pretty stayed pretty true to their "just do it, go out, get out there, see the world through sports," brand pretty well. That's at least my take on it after working all summer to buy my first pair of Air Jordans in 1986.

Chris: Cynthia, Jonathan, what are some of the brand attributes, you would say? What comes to mind when you think of Nike?

Cynthia: I think the first thing that pops in my head is passion. Going back to what Bo said, outwardly, I think it's just a passion for people, a passion for, currently, inclusion, diversity. You see a lot of that. It's just really being passionate about cultural and social causes that are happening. So that's definitely what stands out for me.

Jonathan: I think the brand has always been aspirational in a sense that whether... They started with the top athletes for the endorsement strategies and they moved into that aspirational message, even just with the Just Do It campaign, this message of hope now with social diversity, environmental and inclusion, whatnot. So I see that thread of that aspiration and hope are woven through the history of the organization, whether it's Bo as a young kid someday hoping to be a professional or those that just want to get off the couch and get better and they're like me, never thought they'd be a professional at anything. But that brand of hope, like, "Yeah, I might get there. Whatever my personal goals are, we can do it." So I think, for me, that's a big piece, I think, of the attributes that I look at when I look at the brand.

Cynthia: There's one other thing, too, that comes to mind, especially for Nike, is that it's kind of this passion or just it's very design-forward. It's a little bit on trend, and they need to be like that. It's for their target audience, people here buying their products. But they are so mindful and just attentive about brand and style. They're at the forefront of it, they've been pushing it in the sports area, along with a lot of other very notable brands, but that's something else that really stands out, not even just the products but also on all of their marketing materials, ads. It's got style, you know?

Bo: That's even part of what their brand has been operationally. I just looked up to make sure I had my dates right. The first Air Jordans were released in 1985. But I remember our senior year in 1987, Jordans were customizable way back then. I mean, you could get your team colors on them, and everybody on the team would have the same color shoe, but they'd all be Jordans. That's pretty forward thinking when you talk about... And, Cynthia, I think even physically the way that you can personalize the shoe and have been since that piece's inception makes it even more personal. They, even from an operations standpoint, from a function standpoint, have been that type of company.

Of course, obviously, they can make a ton of money when you can personalize something like that. They're still capitalists. So not to be all altruistic, go be whatever, we love you, we want to give you your personal shoe. No, it costs money. But at the end of the day, that is a part of their brand that has been a part of the physical part of their brand as well, which I think is a really neat part of it that they've been able to then articulate in the way they've presented the brand to the market over all these years.

Jonathan: I think they've tapped into that popular expression in their advertising as of late with some of their campaigns. So it's interesting, like you say, boom, they had it way before many didn't have it but then through the advent of social media and the Internet. Because, I mean, back in the '80s, the Internet was like, "What's the Internet?" They've been able to ride that wave, that positioning which they had. They've been able to capitalize on it through the technologies and the evolutions in the market advertising world now through these popular expression abilities that they have in that process. So, yeah, kudos. They've done a good job with that.

Nike's Lessons in Boldness

Chris: One of the things that stands out to me about their brand and I'd be curious to see your take on this, whether you agree, number one, and number two is maybe how, or excuse me, how that reflects on them, everything you guys are talking about to me screams bold. They're not hesitant in anything that they do. If they take a position, they take a position. They don't go lukewarm into it.

I'm wondering from a branding perspective, is that something that you would recommend to other brands? Is that something that is a good lesson for everybody, if you're building a brand, be bold, or has it only worked because they are Nike?

Cynthia: I was going to say, I think part of it's tied into the business and it's their target audience and it's like, "Who's buying their products?" You got to be bold. You have to be bold on the court, right, bold on the field. So it's like bold to win. I think there's a lot of that where it's like it's baked into the exterior marketing and part of the brand where it's like it is bold. Now, going back with internally inside Nike and what their brand values are and everything else, it's like you need to be bold to push forward ahead, to advance certain people and things and whatever. But outwardly, though, for their outside target audience, yes, I think especially for branding when it comes to sports and this type of target audience, it should be bold.

Bo: And I think, Chris, it's always awesome to talk about these consumer brands because people can relate to them, right? The corporate brand, any brand should be who they are, right?

If bold is a part of the brand, which I do believe and agree with you it is, then you have to jump in wholeheartedly. Even if you're a quiet brand or you're a thoughtful brand or you're a whatever, you've got to be all that. You can't do it halfway because then people won't... It reduces trust. Why are they questioning their boldness? Should they be doing this? I mean, whether I agree with everything that Nike's done and everything that Nike does or not, they stick to their guns, and I think that that's a pretty solid... I think that speaks well for their brand, even though, as we all weighed into where the world is today, it's hard to stick to your guns because everything... I don't know. We've talked about this before. Oh, gosh, the Ted Danson TV show.

Chris: Cheers? Oh no, The Good Place.

Bo: The Good Place. Everything's become so complicated as we've become more global, and different values have started to permeate different cultures. It's hard to be 100, and when you are 100, you're wrong to a large percentage of the population. The opportunity then for Nike, unlike many of our clients, our B2B clients, is that at least 50% of the people are going to buy their product. At least 50% of the people are going to believe most of the things that they do, and that's one of the benefits they have to their brand. But I think back to this bold piece, if you are who you are, I mean, this goes all the way back to the Bible, right, don't be lukewarm. It's the same thing for companies. Either believe it or don't. But when you're in the middle and gray, it makes it harder for people to trust your brand. It makes it harder for people to really buy into what you're selling. I think that that's something that Nike has done a really good job of really sticking to who they are and what they believe.

Jonathan: Brands need to build their tribes, right, and so you've got to wave your banner for people to find your tribe. So, first and foremost, to what Bo's saying, that and what Cynthia is saying, that's what boldness does for you, right? It allows you to align with those organizations that you believe in, whether it's cause marketing or whether it's just the particular nature of their product and what it does or the quality of the material and the fact that it never breaks and you hate to repair your car, whatever it might be.

But the other thing is the data says... I mean, there's plenty of studies out there that talk about 80 plus percentage of consumers will buy from a company that advocates for issues they care are about. I think as recent as... Edelman did a big earned brand study talking about over 60% of those companies will buy or boycott, to Bo's point, either side of the coin, right, because of a social position or even a political issue they might take in that stance. So it can work in your favor. The numbers are there that when you take your position, you own it, and it's true to who you are, that mathematically almost always works out to the brand's advantage and they see an increase in revenue.

Chris: To me, and we talk about this a lot, and just to kind of tie that, it's like authenticity is key to a brand, right? Whatever it is, call it intuition, call it whatever it is. If you doubt yourself, if you aren't sure about who you are, if you're lukewarm, as Bo put it, the general public or your audience is going to pick up on that. It's like confidence in sports, right? If you're unsure about what you're doing on the court or on the field, you're a split second late because you're thinking about it and you're less effective. So it's the same kind of concept in branding, and I think it applies across all brands. Whether it's Nike or a drilling contractor or whoever you are, if you are unsure about who you are as a brand, the outside world will pick up on that to some degree. 

Cynthia: Yeah. I was going to say, when you have a tagline like Just Do It, it's like that already... The minute you hear it, you get an idea of what this company is like. So, again, to being authentic, when it's like it's Just Do It, then it's like... I think it goes beyond sports. It goes into attitude, how you approach life, how you approach the world, how the company itself, too. It's like how are they doing that? It's like they're being at the forefront of these social issues. So, yeah, it's like if that's core to your brand, is to be bold, to be authentic, then it's like, especially with that type of tagline, you got to live up to it.

Chris: I mean, think about Crocs trying to be the sports brand for a moment or Nike trying to suddenly be the ugly, comfortable, Croc brand for a moment, right? It's not going to work. They can't do it, right? They got to be true to who they are and they got to build their tribes around who they are and take their positions in the marketplace. I think that's the fundamental mistake that most organizations make. When we walk into them, they haven't really staked their position. They've tried to be too many things across the board to too many potential buyers because they think they sell everything. It's often an 80/20 rule classically, where, no, you don't have 57 products, you only have four products that drive 90% of your revenue. So what gives here? What do you really stand for? What are you trying to really do? How are you truly going to differentiate in the marketplace? Because they're just afraid to turn down any potential customer on the planet and they don't ever take a true position.

Bo: Well, I think that's a benefit where... I mean, I'm not a boycotter, right? There are certain things that I may boycott. I may go, "I'm not doing that." But, in reality, with a brand as ubiquitous as Nike, and this really speaks to your point, Chris, about being all in... Now, again, nobody can be perfect all in. Good Place, right? The points don't add up. But the complexity of our world allows for if you're truly the Just Do It brand, and even I think this is a challenge that some of our B2B brands, a lot of them are commoditized. That shirt you're wearing is a commodity. Now, adding the BrandExtract logo to it adds value, of course, but I can get basically that same shirt from a thousand different shirt-wearers. But the Nike logo has built over time a value to where we do value that commodity slightly more, right? I will pay an extra $5. I may not pay an extra $50. I'm not going to go in and buy a $70 Nike shirt, although others will, some will. But I think that's the long tail.

I think the same goes for a lot of these business-to-business brands that we're working with. This ball bearing company, it's round, smooth, and a certain size, and as long as it's round, smooth, and a certain size, you could buy it from anybody. What makes me buy that ball bearing from a specific company over time? There's a lot that goes into the brand, the operations, the feel of it, the confidence I have that it's going to be on time and it's going to fit the right way, or I can get the exact size all the time, the consistency of the brand, not just the product, but the consistency of the message, which for the most part I'm not a huge fan of some of the things Nike's been doing recently, just because they don't align with some of my values. But that said, over time, I'm willing to listen to some of those stories because I do trust the brand. I do respect that they have brought issues to light through their bran.

While I may not agree with all of them, I appreciate the boldness that they take not just to sell a shoe, because you can tell by some of the commercials, a lot of this is, to take on what Jonathan's talking about, this trend of... I mean, they are taking advantage of a trend, but it's true to who they've always been. I think that speaks to the boldness and also the all-in nature, to where there's no hesitation. I mean, this makes sense. Let's go. Then they can take advantage of the opportunities that they get out of that. I think that's something that many B2B or B2C brands need to really take in mind. You hesitate... We hesitated with all the uncertainty, and we didn't hire as fast as we should have. Those things, that confidence in what you believe in, that confidence to move forward and make decisions, know that the guard's coming and I'm going to run right through that hole, it's those kinds of things that make brands stick over time.

Chris: It's almost like an intuition. It's an intangible thing that if you have a feel for it. You guys know I'm a Disney nerd. I just got done reading Bob Iger's book, and he talks about, "Hey, you can crunch all the numbers you want." You can do all the studies and everything like that. At the end of the day, you're never going to be 100% percent certain about anything. You have to take that little bit of intuition to push you forward.

Embracing Controversy

Chris: Jonathan and Bo, you guys touched on it a little bit, talked about certain messages, whether it resonates with an audience or not, and I'm curious. I guess I'm kind of asking you guys to speculate a little bit here. Nike has historically taken controversial positions, and some of them have been controversial for different reasons. One of the early ad campaigns was Charles Barkley, "I'm not a role model."

Bo: "I'm not a hero." 

Chris: Yeah, exactly. You have obviously the more recent ones, like with Colin Kaepernick. I think, in the past, in the late '80s, I think it was they had a runner who had tested HIV positive that they signed as a Nike athlete. So things that have been controversial throughout history or their history anyway, they haven't necessarily shied away from that. My question is, is do you think that that is something that they've studied and said, "Hey, look, our audience wants us to be a part of these things, so, therefore, we are going to take on the Colin Kaepernicks of the world," or is it the reverse and it's like, "Hey, we're doing this and we're going to draw the audience with us?" I'm curious if you guys have any... And, again, we're speculating a little bit here, but I'm curious to know what you guys think and then even extrapolate that as like, "Hey, is that a good strategy?" I mean, it seems to have worked for them, but I'm curious your thoughts.

Cynthia: I have no doubt in my mind that when the agencies that work with Nike or their own internal teams sit and talk about what's next trend-wise, what's out on the news, what their customers, target audience is talking about... I have no doubt in my mind these conversations come up and they fully understood what they're engaged with. I mean, this is a very active brand on all the social channels, actively out there speaking to their customers and their followers and fans that... This has to come up in conversations time and time again. I have no doubt in my mind that they know they have to be an active participant in the conversation. I think that might be part of it.

Back to being authentic and having real conversations with everyone who follows them, it's like you have to talk about these things. Now, they could take a more passive role, and I think we had an earlier podcast about this in the past, about being at the forefront of your brand and leading those conversations. I imagine that's something for them every day. It's like, "Are we going to lead the conversation, or are we just following along?" So I think it is intentional. I think it's got both edges for it. It fits the brand, it fits the conversations that they're having with, again, their followers, and I think, also, I imagine there's something in there about being bold and controversial. You draw attention no matter what, you know?

Chris: Yeah, the Elon Musk school of thought, right?

Cynthia: Yeah.

Jonathan: So, look, let's just take the NFL instance for a moment with Colin Kaepernick. Okay. That was a movement that the players decided they were going to endorse. More and more players started taking a knee to draw attention to the cause. Okay? So if I'm the NFL's national sponsor and I've got my ten-year contract in place, am I siding with the owners, or am I siding with the players? That was the decision, I'm sure, that came up in some conversations for them. If they're a brand about athletes and not owners and they don't get engaged with those athletes, then those athletes are going to feel disenfranchised in that process. So I think they had to have those debates internally and discuss where the brand is coming from and what do they believe is right and do they believe in... And I'm not saying they're without their warts and flaws. Especially, look at their social issues going on internally right now with women and diversity and inclusion.

But if they're looking at it and they're working on it, maybe they'll get better at it. I think anybody can throw rocks at any glass house and still have some of their own throwing it back at them. None of us are without our flaws, no matter how much we tried as a corporation to be there. I mean, even the whole environmental movement. Look at Allbirds. They just announced going IPO under an ESG brand umbrella. So they're looking at everything from the materials that they use in their products to where they manufacture their products and the labor that's used to manufacture products to the pay rates they use to their staffing and diversity and inclusion numbers, and they are going into market pretty aggressively in this position. They might even lead some of these big fashion trends where the fashion industries and the clothing industries are going because there are huge environmental impacts to how things are currently manufactured for some people, and if that brand cares about that and they sit on the sideline, then I think they're going to get left behind by the consumers that care about it. Yeah, so I think-

Bo: Yeah. I'm very much not a zero sum brander, and I think there are people on either end, right? This isn't all-natural, this isn't all-environmental, this isn't all perfect, so I'm not going to buy it. I'm going to boycott it. There are people on the other end of the spectrum, small groups, right, 10% of the population, that, "Screw it, I'm buying it no matter what. I mean, I really could care less about what's it's made of. I just don't even think about it." And then there are all the rest of us that are along that spectrum. I think the world used to be a bigger bell curve and that curve's has gotten a lot flatter. I think, to Jonathan's point, the more of those things true to who you are, right... I mean, watching all of these energy companies that we're work with try and rebrand around ESG, that's not a thing, right? I mean, it's a thing. They can be more sustainable, they can be more responsible in the way they produce, but they're still punching holes in the earth and pulling stuff out of the ground. You can't overcome that.

I think the brilliance of Nike's strategy has been they have always been true to these things, back to what we talked about. They stick with their guns. I think, Jonathan, there are probably a lot of times where they don't even... I think everybody, since they've been so tight with Wieden+Kennedy and their brand is what it is, they just go, "Okay, we got to jump on this trend." It's not completely altruistic, but it's not completely capitalistic, just like this Paralympic thing that they've been promoting and the everybody can be an athlete, everybody can achieve at a high level that they've been pushing, or promoting, not pushing, is completely true to their brand. The women's issues that they dealt with in their advertising with the soccer team, with the national team, and all of those kinds of things, even though they have, I think... And this is something else to talk about.

Even though they may not have been the best at their corporate level or they may not be where the world expects them to be now, they've always championed those issues. They've always championed minorities as leaders in their advertising. They've always championed women as leaders to promote their brand. They've always championed the downtrodden or those that are overcoming or overachieving. I don't even know that they even have to think about it. It's like, "Okay, this makes sense. Charles Barkley? I'm not a role model? That makes perfect sense to me." The rest of us are going, "What? What are you talking about? My kids watch you." But then you start to think about the pressure that are on these people and the expectations that people have. To your point, Cynthia, it brings to light a lot of the issues that we all struggle with about perfection and can we do better and those kind of things, which then turns into the social issues that they end up championing, and that's... You give them a pass. If you're in the middle of that flat bell curve now, you give them a pass.

Jonathan: Is it a pass? I think maybe, if you're a global brand, maybe they see it as their responsibility to drive conversation. To your point, Bo, there's too much on the fringes these days, and they want to bring those fringes together and create conversation and dialogue. Maybe that's their hope through these campaigns. It's not binary in its approach and its process. You're kind of advocating that, saying you don't take a binary position, and you said you're willing to listen. So when they put these campaigns out there, by your own admission, you're willing to listen. So is that their ultimate goal?

Bo: I don't know. I don't know. I don't think it is. I think, at the end of the day, they're a public company and they have to make money, but it fits their personality. I mean, it fits who they are, right? I do not agree with the Colin Kaepernick take a knee kind of thing, but I am all about team and one and all that kind of stuff, and it turned into that. But it really was an individual thing to start, which I respect. I think it creates conflicts for their brand that are good. In the end of the day, it's a good thing. I don't see any of this as horrible. Nobody was shooting anybody in this instance. They were making a stand, and people were standing up for what they believed in, and that's Nike's brand. Okay, cool.

Cynthia: That's absolutely it. It's like this is a brand that can do that. There are a lot of brands that can't do that.

Bo: They can't do it.

Cynthia: But it's like Nike, go back to this whole thing, Just Do It. Even Colin, Colin, we're on first name basis now, taking a knee kind of lines up with that tagline. Just Do It. He's like, "I'm taking a stand, and nothing's going to stop me." And back to this whole thing, it's passionate and that's bold and he did it. I think Nike's kind of like, "This person lines up with our values and how we present ourselves."

Jonathan: Well. I mean, is Nike saying, "We respect your rights to free speech and to stand for the things that you want to stand for?" I mean, are they putting that ahead of their own personal bias? You-

Bo: No, it's not bias. They're smart business people. I think it is true to who they are as an organization and what they've stood for, but I definitely am not going to fall in the line of, "Oh, the purpose of their organization is to make people communicate with each other on polarizing issues." They want to sell shoes, and there is nothing wrong with that. I don't see a problem with it at all because they are being true to who they've been throughout their history. That's why, to your point, Jonathan, this isn't about... There are certain things I believe. You have to take yourself personally out of that, right? Each of us has our individual pieces. You got to take a step back. That brand is not me. There are some people that are specific brands. There are some people that are the CNN brand or that are the FOX News brand or that are the Allbirds brand or that are the brand they work for.

But I think as long as they're true to that throughout the thing, and the great thing about... The point you're making, Jonathan, and, Chris, you've talked about, Cynthia, you've talked about, we've all talked about it, they sit at a unique spot where they do have enough of a voice and they do need to be responsible. I think, for the most part, in most situations, they have done a really good job of being true to who they are but bringing to light issues that even they may not completely agree with but they give it a voice because you said it perfectly, Cynthia, Colin Kaepernick just did it and that fits the brand. Whether or not they believe fully in the action or not or whether or not they're trying to sell shoes is irrelevant. They are a platform for that type of initiative, for that type of belief.

Cynthia: It's the outward thing, and I agree with. They're in the business to sell product. Back to the whole thing, I love the Allbirds. It's like they're really thinking about how they're sourcing materials, how they're producing the stuff. The truth is that Nike, this is all about mass production on a global scale of all sorts of products that use all sorts of petroleum type products, too, to make these cool stretchy fabrics that are cut the right way to fit a woman's body or to fit a man's foot so he can... It's a business. But, again, I think it's like whenever they do latch onto these kind of social justice topics or campaigns and stuff, it's like it fits their brand. They could do it. I can't imagine even Coca-Cola really taking a hardcore stance on any of that. I don't think it would fit or McDonald's. But, Nike, yeah, it'll fit.

Bo: Absolutely.

Chris: Well, it's the benefits of having a strong, bold brand that you are very in tune with, right? Bo, kind of what you said, it's like there probably isn't a lot of consternation in this discussion when they're talking about, "Should we do this or should we not," because it's like, "Hey, this is who we've been throughout our history." So I think that's one of the added benefits of having a strong brand, is that knowing your brand and knowing what it is and not being lukewarm on any of this allows Nike and other companies who have that to say, "Yep, this is an easier decision." I mean, some of these decisions aren't easy, but they're easier than somebody who doesn't know who they are, who are trying to wade through this, who are trying to figure out where they fall, what their position is on this. So I think the takeaway there is that having a strong brand helps you make these decisions. It can be your north star, I guess, rather than me trying to talk about it.

Jonathan: Well, I mean, and Apple isn't going to go make devices that are harder to use, right? I mean, their brand position is around simplicity and elegance, and so if they skew from that, people are going to resist it. You can be an energy company and you can be true to who you are and that's a good thing. You can drill safer or make a bit that lasts longer or dispose of your waste more properly, whatever it might be. You need to drive the value that you believe in as a brand position and do it in a way, to Cynthia's point, that's clear or bold so that the market can differentiate you from your commoditized competitors, as Bo talks about, be it through your operations of your delivery or through your sustainability, your policies, or whatever it might be, as long as they're just not washing these messages out there but they are sustained through the entire organization's behavior and values and actions and materials that they use and create with. Then it's okay.

But they need to be honest, and I think that's where some people get awry. We've seen plenty of clients that when we do customer interviews, they'll say they're fast, and we interview their customers and they're like, "Oh, no, it took four hours to hunt down my delivery ticket." You're not fast, okay? You can't put that message out there just because you want, or they say they're diverse and it turns out they're not. You can't put those messages out there because that's the core, that's the fundamental golden rule, don't break your promise as a brand, right, because that's what brands are built off, is those consistencies and promises, to Bo's point earlier.

Bo: Yeah. And I think, Jonathan, that kind of speaks to what you're saying. I think that Nike has historically made more good promises to the consumer over a long period of time that aligned with who they were and who they've shown themselves to be. They've had issues in China or they have issues with labor or diversity at the executive level. But it's like three, five, 10. No matter how egregious they are over a long history, I think you're right, Jonathan. They have done a great job of staying true to who they are, giving them more brand value but also a greater voice, and to Cynthia, to your point, it allows them to take chances that other brands can't. But it seems as if most of the chances they have taken have been trendy but trendy on the right side of culture and society.

Chris: Public opinion, yeah.

Bo: Yeah. And separate public opinion, the right thing, right? I would venture to say... We talked about this in the Colin Kaepernick take a knee NFL thing podcast we had before. I would venture to say that 90% of the people, maybe 95% of the people, would say social justice, equal rights, it's the right thing to do. They may not have agreed with the action, but, that said, to Cynthia's point, he just did it. And those freedoms, the freedom to be able to express yourself, the freedom to not be able to be held down for what you believe in, that's all in the Nike brand, and they've done a really good gap to job of capturing it, and Cynthia and I are on the capitalist side here a little bit but, and monetize it. I mean, they've been able to monetize these things in a way that betters their... It increases their voice, and they've mostly been responsible with that power, and that's pretty cool.

I keep thinking about, as we're throwing out brands... I can't imagine Pepsi, who's been a me too brand to Coca-Cola and everything else, come out and somehow be this social justice warrior, right? They can't. They don't have the power. They don't have the lift. Under Armour's always been about my house, me personally. They don't have the lift to take on the social issues that a brand like Nike does because they've stayed true and been bold throughout their history to what they believe, which is to open up things to people for people to take chances and to be more than they thought they could be. That's an awesome brand. It's not perfect-

Chris: Bo, you bring up a point with Under Armour and Pepsi. Here's something to think about, too. When you're not bold and somebody else takes the position, it is so much harder to up-seat them. Your cost of acquiring market share is 10X to take market share away from somebody who already has it. So by not taking these positions, whatever they might be for your organization and who you are truthfully, you are giving ground and conceding ground and costing yourself money in the long run by not staking your claims in the marketplace.

For an Under Armour to suddenly try and take Nike's position, imagine the dollars they'd have to spend. I mean, it would be exorbitant compared to the dollar that Nike spends for that to maintain the positions. So, again, you want to talk capitalism? Let's talk good business practice behind branding.

Takeaways from Nike's Brand

Chris: So, all right, guys I think we've done a really good job here analyzing it, analyzing the Nike brand and how their brand dictates the positions and how that impacts the business, so I'm really appreciative of your insight. I do want to ask one final thing on the way out, just get your thoughts. What's the big takeaway here from... If you look at Nike as a brand and you're thinking about how can a mom and pop business or a midsize business or something like that... What can they take away from a Nike or from the things we discussed here that you think is really relevant? Cynthia, it looks like you have something to say.

Cynthia: Bo mentioned one thing in particular, which is their relationship with Wieden+Kennedy and executive-level inside Nike, like we just mentioned, they've got a little bit of their old school thinking in there, which is fine. Everybody's in this transformative moment in business and everything else. But there's something to be said for working with the right type of agency. They're actually the ones who developed the tagline, Just Do It, and a lot of the other campaigns and everything that's tied into it. When you talk about the Nike brand, I think you also have to bring up Wieden+Kennedy and what they're doing on their side as well for helping to develop and grow that brand. I think, then, on the internal side on Nike, having the... It was good business sense to work with, I think, edgy creative and an edgy creative agency, especially for what they offer and ultimately where they ended up in the end. So it made sense.

Chris: So having a trusted partner and steward of your brand helping you make those decisions, I think. Yeah, I agree with that. Bo, Jonathan, anything to add in terms of a takeaway that you think, "Hey, if you don't hear anything else in this episode, this is what the takeaway is?"

Bo: I'll give Jonathan the last word since he let me open and Cynthia let me open. I think that brands that are mostly true, because I don't believe in perfection, right, that are constantly working to be true to who they are and those that they serve... Because I think Jonathan touched on this really well, that brands are making promises, and when you're a consumer, you're buying into that promise, and so if somebody pulls the wool over your eyes, you look foolish as well or you feel like you do, right? I think brands that are true, separate the bold thing, some of the things we talked about, but just, in general, brands that are true to who they are, know who they are, and understand it, may have worked with a partner to let them help them define it and communicate it, but they're the ones that win.

Bo: To your point, Chris, they make faster decisions. They make more better decisions for them and for their consumer. They make better product decisions, and they cut through the chaff, right? I am this, to Jonathan's point about Apple. It's about simplicity, ease of use, period, end of story. If we're doing something beyond that, if we're making something too complicated, it shouldn't fit there. Those are quick, easy business decisions that can save you money, make you money, and then keep you safe. To Nike's point, they can stick their necks out there because they have been true to their brand long-term. So I think, summing that up, being true to who you are and knowing that allows you better business decisions and a better overall relationship with your customer and allows you quicker... You can find the right customer faster using that kind of brand approach where this is our north star and this is where we're headed.

Chris: Yeah. Doing these things and really taking care and maintaining your brand allows you a little bit of insulation, which we've talked about in the past, right, insulation from bad things, a little bit... Tat reaction time, that split second where you're acting and your competitor isn't, now you're... Jonathan, you touched on the, "Hey, now, whoever didn't move first is now having to play catch-up and send more," so very good point, Bo. Jonathan, what do you got for us?

Jonathan: So I agree with what my colleagues have said in this conversation today. I would add another perspective, which is when we look at branding, we look at these three positions, who you are, your truth, your strength, but what your customers value and they either need or want it, and then the competition, what's differentiated, right? If you think of that as a Venn diagram, that strongest brand positioning is where all three overlap. So I think, to Cynthia's point I think she alluded to, and Bo's talked about this, is you can't ignore the market. You have to do voice of the customers, and you have to do competitive research. I'm sure that Wieden+Kennedy is doing this and bringing it to the table, and they are bringing these opportunities potentially to who they are where their strengths are. They're filling out those circles.

I think that anybody that's worth their salt that does strategy the right way knows branding is more than just the logo and the colors you pick and the photo on your ad or whatever it might be, understands these and looks at not only their operations, to the points that Bo made earlier in the conversation about whether you're fast or how you deliver your quality. All these are part of your branding strategy, and you have to do the research. I think that if you walk away thinking that you can just do this without doing the research, you're going to fail, you're going to make mistakes. You need to understand what brand positioning is and how it works.

Chris:  Well, that's great, guys. I really appreciate it. Thank you for the time. Thank you for the insight, and we'll catch you next time.