History of Adidas and their Logo Design
Today, Adidas stands as one of the most popular footwear and apparel companies in the world. Recently, they’ve even come to challenge the likes of the footwear giant Nike, finding a way to attract new customers in a time when many companies in the athletic wear industry are struggling. As with any apparel company, Adidas’s clever marketing and eye-for-design have played a monumental role in their success, and in this article we’ll take a look at Adidas’s history, the history of the Adidas logo, and the role that their logo has played in their marketing strategy.
Origins of Adidas
For many, the origins of Adidas may entail a bit of controversy – the company’s founder Adolf Dassler fought on the side of the Germans in WWI and joined the Nazi party in WWII. After returning from fighting in WWI, though, Dassler began working to produce sports shoes in his mother’s kitchen. At first he was joined by his younger brother Rudolf, but after a falling out, Rudolf left the company and founded a company that would later be one of Adidas’s bitter rivals – Puma.
Adidas – then Dassler Shoes – got its first big break when Adolf drove to the 1936 Summer Olympics with a suitcase full of cleats and convinced sprinter Jesse Owens to wear them in the competition. Jesse Owens became the first African-American to receive a sponsorship in the Olympics, and the popularity of Dassler Shoes skyrocketed.
In 1947, Adolf changed the name of his company to Adidas after his nickname “Adi”. He retained control of the company until 1987 when he sold it to a French investor named Bernard Tapie. Tapie ramped up production of Adidas shoes, but unable to pay the interest on the loan he used to buy the company, Tapie sold Adidas to Robert Louis -Dreyfus.
Adidas changed hands a few more times in the years that followed, slowly growing more and more successful. Today, Adidas supplies apparel for the NBA, NFL, and others, and in 2016 the company saw €19.3 billion in sales. Along the way, Adidas has leveraged clever marketing and the popularity of their designs to reach such success, and at the forefront of those designs is the recognizable Adidas logo – a logo they purchased for €1,600 and two bottles of whiskey.
History of the Adidas Logo
Adidas has long been famous for its three stripes logo, however, they weren’t the first company to use the design. The original owner of the logo was Karhu Sports. However, Karhu Sports was hit hard by WWII, and short on capital, the owner agreed to sell Adidas the trademark to their logo for €1,600 and two bottles of whiskey.
In 1971, the company unveiled the three-stripe logo in a form that resembled a leaf they called the “trefoil”. This version was later replaced by the current logo which is shaped like a triangle, though the trefoil logo can still be found on some Adidas products.
Design Elements of the Adidas Logo
Even before Adidas purchased the trefoil logo from Karhu Sports, they were adding three bars to all of their products, and they referred to themselves as the “three stripe company”. These three stripes were meant to convey the diversity and international appeal of the company by symbolizing the three major land masses where Adidas shoes were sold – North America, Europe, and Asia.
Adidas added even more meaning and symbolism to their latest logo by making the logo into a triangle shape that looks like a mountain sloping upwards. This mountain is meant to symbolize overcoming challenges – a popular theme for the athletes that Adidas sells their apparel to.
Adidas has also chosen to feature the name of their company in all lower-case font on their logo. This choice represents the casual, informal nature of the Adidas brand.
Lastly, since no particular color scheme is attached to Adidas logo, Adidas is free to alter the color of the logo anyway they see fit in order to compliment the design of the apparel they are putting it on.
Popularity of the Adidas Logo
Apparel companies live and die by the popularity of their design. Not only do they need their design to be appealing to customers, they also need it to be immediately recognizable in order for the most important aspects of their marketing strategy to work.
For example, Adidas pays mass amounts of money to have their shoes worn by pro athletes in the NBA and beyond. The goal is that people will see these athletes wearing these shoes and be inspired to buy them for themselves. However, when a basketball player in the NBA wears Adidas shoes on the court, there is no advertisement that they are wearing them other than a prominent logo on the shoe. Adidas, therefore, counts on people being able to recognize the logo in an instant in order for these promotions to work.
While there’s no doubt that people buy Adidas apparel for its quality, it is still the Adidas logo that is the primary selling point for the company. All of their apparel features the iconic logo in some form or the other, making the logo the chief element of their clothing design.
Best of all, Adidas has managed to tie a message to their logo. When people see Adidas apparel or they see someone else wearing it, they immediately associate the apparel with quality and athleticism. It is this association that keeps many customers coming back to Adidas time and time again.
While great, quality logos are important for any company, they are especially important for companies such as Adidas and Nike, which anchor their entire marketing strategy to their logo. Given the international success of the company, Adidas is a great example of how much success a logo can bring a company when it’s done right.