The 10 best logos of all time

03. Nike

Best logos: The Nike tick logo in black

Carolyn Davidson designed this logo in 1971 for a fee of only $35

Ticking all the boxes for $35

The Nike emblem is one of the world's most recognisable, and it's often the simplest ideas that are the best – as proved by this mark created by Portland student Carolyn Davidson in 1971. Paid $35 for the logo at the time, she later, in 1983, received a gold swoosh ring embedded with a diamond and an envelope containing Nike stock from founder Phillip Knight. It's perhaps one of the most interesting – and most widely reported – stories in logo design history. 

Best logos: Early sketches of the Nike logo and US Patent papers

Nike swoosh sketches by Carolyn Davidson and US Patent papers


Davidson's tick-like logo was seen as a symbol of positivity, but it's actually the outline of the wing of the goddess Nike (who personified victory). Her logo was subsequently registered as a trademark and, aside from some tinkering with the Nike lettering, has remained unchanged.

Black and white photo of a man holding a shoe with the Nike tick logo

A Nike archive shoot from the 70s of a running shoe bearing the famous swoosh

Chasing Originality

According to Nike's website, upon first seeing Davidson's design, Knight said: "I don't love it, but it will grow on me." In 2011, Davidson told (opens in new tab) that it was a challenge to come up with a logo that conveyed motion and that Phillip Knight was very impressed with the stripes of rival company Adidas, so it was increasingly hard to come up with something original. 

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Rob is editorial, graphic design and publishing lead at Transport for London. He previously worked at Future Publishing over the course of several years, where he launched digital art magazine, ImagineFX; and edited graphic design magazine Computer Arts, as well as the Computer Arts Projects series, and was also editor of technology magazine, T3.