In this examination, I deconstruct Nike’s Narrative of ‘Just Do It’. We look at how this simple statement acts as a bridge between its external communications and it’s internal communication framework of Mission, Vision and Values. A good narrative does that for businesses. It unifies the vision of what drives people internally within the company and then invites their customers and clients through their marketing channels to join in that vision. This creates a seamless experience and places their customer center stage. Not only is ‘Just Do It’ a marketing tagline. It makes the Nike customer the main protagonist of their stories.
Narrative and Tag Line: Just Do It
Definition: What is a narrative? A narrative is an un-resolvable statement that drives a collection of stories forward.
Why is ‘Just Do It’ more than a tagline, why is it a Narrative?
Because it is a statement with no answer. It is open-ended and it is up to the viewer or listener to fill in the blanks.
Let me elaborate, if I said to you out of the blue, just do it. Your answer could be any number of things:
“Just do what?”
“For how long?”
You would have no idea what I was talking about.
But in the context of a story about sports or an active lifestyle, it could mean anything from –
Just get off the couch and go for a walk
Sign up for that Marathon
You can win this competition
The list goes on and on…
And that is the point!
This is how Nike has been able to use the same tagline for so long, it can evolve with the brand.
Simple open-ended taglines can also be a narrative. And a narrative is what lifts a brand from a product or service into a movement.
That is their external marketing. Let’s look at how that relates to their internal communication structure. How does the narrative work with the brand’s Vision, Mission, and Values?
A good narrative should be able to sit at the very top of the Vision, Mission and Values. It shelters them like the roof of a house and holds all of it together. Let’s examine the components of Nike’s internal communications structure and see how it relates to its external brand statement of ‘Just Do It’.
Definition: A Vision Statement is a dream for a future.
Nike’s vision statement is ‘To remain the most authentic, connected, and distinctive brand.” The business continues to apply this vision statement to the way it tells stories and sells its products. This vision statement was emphasised in the corporation’s global growth strategy for 2015.
Let’s dissect the following words of Nike’s corporate vision statement:
Nike wants to be seen as real, have multiple touch points with their customers and be unique. This mission statement also uses the word, remain. This is key in understanding that they already see themselves as the market leader and in the vision for the company’s future they are going to continue to hold their space.
A good vision statement should represent an ideal future, a place that cannot be reached and should always be strived for.
Definition: A mission statement reflects the day to day strategic plans that a company or business makes to continually move towards their view for the future represented in the vision statement.
Nike Inc.’s corporate mission is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” The company further states that everybody is an athlete, based on Nike founder Bill Bowerman’s statement, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” This mission statement represents the company’s strategic goal of reaching out to the global leisure and sports footwear, apparel and equipment market. The following main components are in Nike’s corporate mission statement:
- Every athlete in the world
It is important here to note what has been left out. They do not mention footwear, apparel, and equipment anywhere. This is a wise strategic move if they wish to provide services in addition to products in the future. For example, smart sportswear with monitoring and feedback through software may be a core service in Nike’s future.
The point here is that there is room to grow and move.
A good mission and vision statement should not be revised every year. It should have enough room to grow so it stays true for the foreseeable future. It should be as short as possible so it is easy to remember and repeat.
For a business to be a truly powerful communicator it must co-create their future with their clients and customers, a cohesive narrative is what holds it all together.
The question now is does ‘Just Do It’ sit cohesively at the top of the framework we just explored? I would answer yes. ‘Just Do It’ does encourage authenticity and connection. If we look at the Vision statement it is inspirational and does provide room for innovation.
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