Episode 26


What does it mean to be a brand?

One of the most critical barriers to success is understanding what a brand is and what a brand is NOT. I get this question all the time. Let me tell you what a brand is NOT: A brand is NOT a name, logo, tag-line, package design or the product itself. I call these elements: Window-dressing your brand. A brand is simply an EMOTIONAL IDENTITY that differentiates products, services and people.

As a former marketing executive at global multi-billion dollar consumer products companies like Nabisco, Kraft Foods, Cadbury and Godiva, I successfully crafted emotional identities for some of the world’s most iconic brands. Over the course of 25 years, a frequent challenge I faced was communicating the role a brand played in consumer’s lives…in other words its Core Value. To solve this problem, I developed a process to label that brand’s Core Value using just ‘One Word’. This helps consumers understand what they are actually buying.

During this series, I will select a brand I worked on or studied and share it’s ‘One Word’ Core Value, as well as share valuable topics in the branding arena that will help you Stand-Out Conquer Obstacles and Reach Excellence…in other words, SCORE.

So let’s turn to today’s brand clip… NIKE

Show Notes (click to expand)

Just Do It!


Everyone knows this brand after hearing this iconic tag line…Do I really have to say it….


OK…I’ll say it anyway….NIKE!


Let me start by taking you back to NIKE’s roots. Their path to GREATNESS goes back to a company called Blue Ribbon Sports, which Phil Knight, a former runner at the University of Oregon, and Bill Bowerman, Knight’s former track coach, created in 1962. Blue Ribbon Sports’s performance-oriented product innovations and mastery of low-cost production translated into shoes athletes wanted to wear and could afford. Knight and Bowerman’s track connections got the shoes onto the feet of real runners. And then jogging emerged as a new national pastime.


By 1978, the year Blue Ribbon Sports changed its corporate name to NIKE, Jon Anderson had won the Boston Marathon wearing NIKE shoes, Jimmy Connors had won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open wearing NIKE shoes, Henry Rono had set four track and field records in NIKES, and members of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers basketball teams were wearing them. Sales and profits were doubling every year.


To showcase the power of this #1 sports company, I want to share a campaign that I believe demonstrated what NIKE truly sells to every customer that purchases their products.  In 2012, NIKE launched a worldwide campaign called “Find Your Greatness.” that coincided with the 2012 Olympic games in London, England.

The central theme was very powerful: everyday athletes, not just elite ones, can achieve GREATNESS. The goal was to inspire us to find our defining moments of GREATNESS through sports. It featured people from all walks of life who moved beyond their comfort zones and took the steps necessary to achieve their GREATNESS. The campaign was designed to capture the Olympic spirit of GREATNESS.

While Adidas was the official sponsor of the games, post-campaign research left people with the impression that NIKE was actually the sponsor, indicating how the impact of this campaign overshadowed Adidas, who spent millions of dollars with minimal effect.

The essence of what NIKE stands for came through in every execution, showing us that GREATNESS can be achieved by anyone who pushes past their limits.

Here are some of the inspiring TV Campaign narratives that made each of us stop and think about how we can achieve our own level of GREATNESS: 

“Some people are told they are born with GREATNESS…some people tell themselves!”
“If GREATNESS doesn’t come knocking at your door, maybe you should go knock on its door!”
“GREATNESS needs a lot of things…but it doesn’t need an audience!”
“GREATNESS is not born…it’s made!”
“GREATNESS is no more unique to us than breathing…we’re all capable of it…all of us!”
“GREATNESS is a scary thing…until it isn’t!”

The essence of this campaign, which still resonates with me almost 10 years later, lies in believing that the mind is our most powerful asset. Anyone can push their limits, be a champion and achieve GREATNESS.

Every person has GREATNESS within them. What’s yours?

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s this:

Your product is NOT your brand.
Your brand is your Core Value…AND
You use your product as the vehicle to drive your Core Value.
NIKE uses their athletic footwear, apparel, equipment, and accessories to drive their Core Value of GREATNESS.

So the next time you’re looking to “Find Your Greatness” in both sports and life, remember this…GREATNESS is how Nike SCORES.

I’m Rich Keller, The CATALYST and see you next time on The CATALYST Effect!

Listen & Subscribe on

Join my

and Never Miss an Episode

Join my

and Never Miss
an Episode

Share this episode



Submit a Comment

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