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.


  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

  4. I found it very useful!
    Please I need to reference it and put it like citation in a parer that I am writing. Who is the author name? and year of publication? Thank u!

  5. Glad you found it useful! The author is Graeme Newell, and the year of publication is 2013. Drop us a line if you have any other questions 🙂

  6. hi i am doing assessment in Promoting a Brand I chose nike company ….
    could you please tell me how you make NIKE brand stand out more then other companies like : Adidas, puma and so on

  7. Sure! If you look at Nike’s brand, you’ll see that many of its ads follow its unique 5 step formula. This is one of the things that help Nike set itself apart from the competition. Check it out in this video!

  8. Apple is another company that uses the classic hero vs villain storyline [Steve Jobs Era].

  9. Hi, I wanna know whether emotional branding and brand emotional value are same or different?

  10. Nike definitely knows how to use emotional branding! It’s quote interesting, though, how does Apple use it? As I know, they’re quite familiar with this technique. It would be really great if you could provide an article about this too!

  11. hi.I want the Best Nike ad for my thesis . help me please

  12. thank you so much this really helped me especially for what imw orking on in schopol


  1. Chief MO – Crowdsourcing Chief Marketing Officer | The How and Why of Emotional Branding - […] that do a great job at emotional branding. Coca Cola evokes feelings of happiness and sharing, Nike makes their…
  2. Chief MO – Crowdsourcing Chief Marketing Officer | The Why and How of Emotional Branding - […] that do a great job at emotional branding. Coca Cola evokes feelings of happiness and sharing, Nike makes their…
  3. Nike and Their Story Telling Advertisement | D&M Travels - […]… […]
  4. Movies that Made Me Choose Nike | Brandcrafty - […] Business Today Harvard Business Review 602communications Brand Management Nike Building a global brand case analysis […]
  5. Media HQ - […] of your brand. If you’re struggling to understand what we mean, think along the lines of Nike or Palladium’s…
  6. Nike’s Emotional Branding – naatchaa - […] (2013). Nike Brand Strategy: Emotional Branding using the Story of Heroism. [online] Available at:… [Accessed 23 Feb. […]
  7. What is an Effective Branding Strategy? Local and Global. – LEIGH MENDOZA - […] Nike Brand Strategy: Emotional Branding using the Story of Heroism Available at:… (Accessed 23 September […]
  8. Why We Love Brand Storytelling - […] emotional message. However, as emotional storytelling expert, Graeme Newell, points out in “Nike Brand Strategy: Emotional Branding using the…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *