Guided by our SMO US-based consultant, Justin Lee: Purpose Management Tips “Learn from the Strategy of Purpose Driven Brands”.

Here’s a case study from NIKE.




– A case study of communication based on purpose –


「Our purpose is to use the power of sport to move the world forward. We believe in a fair, sustainable future―one where everyone thrives on a healthy planet and level playing field.」


(Move the world forward with the power of sports. Believe in a fair and sustainable future where everyone can compete equally and in good health.)


This is Nike’s purpose. (As of 2019. There have been revisions to the purpose since then)

Nike has always been at the forefront of branding with bold initiatives. Why is it possible?

This time, let’s explore two examples of Nike from a purpose perspective.


Nike fights for athletes


In May 2018, at the French Open, Serena Williams’ first comeback match after giving birth. She won her first round by competing in a black bodysuit instead of her usual tennis attire. Similar to the costume of the popular superhero “Black Panther” at the time, it was a garment that improved blood circulation and was specially made by Nike for her who was suffering from worsening of her chronic thrombosis. She said she felt like a Warrior Princess every time she wore the bodysuit.


However, after the French Open ended, the French Tennis Federation issued a ban on the bodysuit, saying it “must be respected for tennis”.


Serena’s sponsor, Nike, responded immediately to the ban. She donned a bodysuit and posted a black-and-white photo of Serena in action, along with a message on Twitter that said, “You can take the superheroes out of her costume, but you can’t take away her superpowers.”


30th anniversary of Colin Kaepernick and ‘Just Do It.’


In 2016, NFL’s Colin Kaepernick was unhappy with the state of racism in the United States. He protested by kneeling during the national anthem. As a result of his controversial actions, no team re-signed him after the season, and he was effectively banned from the NFL.

Two years later, in the fall of 2018, months after filing a protest against Serena’s bodysuit. As Nike’s slogan “Just Do It.” celebrating its 30th anniversary, Nike made the bold decision to use him as the face of the campaign, even though Colin was still without a team.  Colin’s headshot, which is used as a symbol of the campaign, is overlaid with the message “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” was taken.


The campaign was controversial, with social media and boycotts ablaze.


Purpose at the heart of decision-making


Why would Nike send such a message at the risk of damaging its brand image? Is it just creating a topic? Some of them may have such aspects, but there must be something more fundamental here.


To understand what Nike does, you have to understand why they exist. Let’s look back at Nike’s purpose at the beginning.


“Move the world forward with the power of sports. Believe in a fair and sustainable future where everyone can compete equally and in good health.”


Reading this statement will shed some light on Nike’s motives. Nike values ​​the principles of “fairness” and “equal competition (field).”

Nike’s actions and activities have always been purposeful, resulting in a consistent and strong brand experience.


After the flaming, Nike’s stock price fell temporarily, but after that, it hit a record high, and it is said that the media exposure effect was worth 4.8 billion yen just by the news of Kaepernick’s appointment. 


Make decisions and act around one clear, shared purpose. This mindset is exactly the essence of purpose branding that is attracting the attention of marketers around the world.