Nike Brand Strategy: Emotional Branding using the Story of Heroism


Look deep inside Nike’s brand strategy and you’ll find the classic story of the hero’s journey.  But Nike puts a devious twist on their brand story by turning the customer into both the hero and the villain.

In this three-minute emotional marketing lesson video, emotional marketing expert Graeme Newell shows us how Nike uses both self-loathing and determination to build customer loyalty.

Nike advertising is one of the most effective emotional branding examples in the marketing world today. Their customer loyalty is off the charts, all thanks to the Nike brand strategy and masterful application of emotional branding. Today, we look at Nike’s marketing strategy and how they use the centuries-old archetype of Heroism to tell their story

Nike Advertising and Emotional Branding

Nike brand strategy is to build a powerful brand – so powerful that it inspires fervent customer loyalty from people literally all over the world. This is because Nike advertising uses the emotional branding technique of archetypes in its advertising – more specifically, the story of the Hero. It’s an age old tale, a tale of a hero pitted against a great foe, and after a great struggle, emerging triumphant. In a way, you could say that Nikes marketing strategy is thousands of years old, and has been inspiring customer loyalty the entire time.

Building Customer Loyalty with Heroism

Nike advertising isn’t the only group that uses the Hero archetype to inspire customer loyalty. Many other companies use this emotional branding technique to great effect. In most cases, the foe is external. The most common story of the hero is that of a man of humble origins setting out to defeat a great evil – one far more powerful than he – and, against all odds, emerging triumphant. This same pattern could apply to, say, a home security system against a house fire, or an antacid against heartburn. As long as there is a clearly identified enemy and a clearly identified hero, the emotional branding can begin.

Nike Brand Strategy

Nike advertising takes the common hero story and turns it on its head. Instead of inspiring customer loyalty by singling out an external enemy, it pulls out the stops and focuses on an internal foe – our laziness. Nike advertising knows just how often we battle with our lazy side. Every morning when that alarm goes off and it’s still totally dark outside, the battle begins. When we choose how long to run, the battle continues. This is how Nike marketing uses emotional marketing to inspire customer loyalty. They know that while some people may identify with an external foe, all people identify with an internal one.

Nike brand strategy is excellent on this end because not only is the internal foe someone we can all hate, the hero is the viewer! In one way or another, we are all the hero of our own story, and Nike marketing has long since identified that feeling – and used it to inspire timeless customer loyalty

So to recap:

  • Nike advertising uses the emotional branding technique of Heroism to inspire incredible customer loyalty all over the world. The hero starts from humble beginnings, challenges a foe greater than he, and against all odds, prevails.
  • Nike marketing isn’t the only group that uses this archetype. Other brands use it by identifying a foe that their viewers can identify with hating and pit their product against it to build stronger customer loyalty
  • Nike brand strategy takes the emotional marketing story of the Hero and turns it inward. You are the hero, and your lazy side is the villain.

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for this great post. Which other brands use the archetypes? Where can i find a case study or article on Nike’s archetypical branding?

    Thank you in advance?

  2. thanks alot. This post helps me in better understanding of Nike’s ads and campaign.

  3. thank you this post has greatly helped me understand nike marketing brand strategy

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