Is a modern office really an office without inspirational quotes scrawled across the walls, on the stairway and in meeting rooms? These days, such quotes are part and parcel of office life, though it's hard to know whether anyone ever does actually feel inspired by said maxims. We bet the ones in your office don't quite stick in the mind as much as those in an old internal memo from Nike, though – or as much as the famous Nike logo.
The memo was apparently circulated by Nike's director of marketing, Rob Strasser, in 1977 and includes 'live off the land', 'It won't be pretty' and 'If we do the right things we'll make money damn near automatic', which are varying degrees of odd. Let's unpack them a bit further. First of all, we don't quite get what 'live off the land' means. Did Nike want its employees to forage for food? Or is it a comment on using sustainable materials (we suspect not)?
'It won't be pretty' makes us think the workplace was more horror story than office. And 'If we do the right things we'll make money damn near automatic' is presumably meant as a rousing ending for the manifesto. It's a lovely sentiment that we guess is about putting results before profit, but let's be honest, it's not really true for a lot of situations. Doing the right thing and capitalism or mass production, don't always go together, for one thing. If you're planning on starting a business anytime soon, we wouldn't recommend sticking that one on your wall.
I personally would love to know how the memo was received by employees at the time. Did they genuinely feel inspired by 'push yourselves, push others' and 'your job isn't done until the job is done,' or were they cynical about the whole thing?
Possibly my favourite of the whole thing is 'Break the rules: fight the law', which to me suggests people should ditch the manifesto completely, or perhaps commit a crime. Although the more you think about it, 'Just Do It' is saying pretty much the same thing, so perhaps this was just an early version of the now famous slogan. We're glad they slimmed it down if that's the case.
We're also left trying to decide whether this manifesto is more or less wild than that Pepsi design document. It's a tricky one. Both Nike and Pepsi have been very successful though, so maybe a bit of 'wild' is the way to go? If you're not quite convinced, see our tips for running a design business piece, which is a bit less out there.