In the modern landscape the majority of high-profile players in any professional sport wind up getting their own brand logo at some point. However, there are only a few that are able to make a logo that is iconic enough to be remembered forever. Michael Jordan is clearly one of those elite athletes that combined success with brand building.
How Did Michael Jordan Get His Logo? Jordan’s iconic Jumpman logo came through his partnership with Nike. The brand design team looked at a lot of imagery surrounding Jordan, including a photoshoot he did with Life Magazine before the 1984 Olympics. The image (shown below) pictured him in an Olympic jumpsuit jumping towards a basketball rim.
This served as the inspiration for what would become the globally recognised Jumpman logo. The Nike team. Led by Peter Moore, recreated a photo in an attempt to avoid any future copyright issues while still maintaining the essence of the pose that they believed would become iconic. The actual logo was drawn in early 1988, by an artist named Tinker Hatfield, who had been commissioned to create the logo from Peter Moore’s newly taken photo (shown below). The first Jordan shoe to carry the logo was the Air Jordan III which was released later in 1988.
There are multiple reasons why Jordan’s logo connected so well and has since become so iconic. There were also a lot of other ideas that came around for the logo before finally settling on the one that we all know and love today. One of the original Jordan Brand logos can still be seen on shoes today.
Why Does This Logo Work So Well?
First things first, the logo is simple. When you want to make a legendary logo, it’s best to not overthink the challenge that’s in front of you. Jordan’s team did just that by making it a simple image that anybody can identify with while simultaneously knowing exactly what brand this is from. It is also very memorable. Not just because of the simplicity, but the colors that really went along with it. Most of the time, you see it in red, white or black. It’s a type of logo that immediately stands out among the rest of the pack when you are looking for shoes or other items like that. Finally, the logo is consistent and versatile. We mean consistent because the message that the logo shares to the public is always the same. That meaning and truth behind the logo has stuck around with fans for so long that the trust was earned by everybody supporting it. This consistency was coupled with versatility because even though the message was the same, it could be used in a number of different circumstances. The color or item that it was placed on could be swapped out and yet people would still know what it is and understand their objectives as a brand. These are just some of the rules that apply to logos nowadays, and Jordan’s creation of the Jumpman really checked off every box here. It’s not very often that you see this happen with a professional athlete of Jordan’s stature.
What Happened Before the Logo Was Created?
It might not be talked about often, but Jordan actually didn’t use any type of branding when he first started to become a superstar. When Michael was partnered up with Nike, they started to release shoes. While many people think that the Jumpman logo was created before that initial release, it wasn’t. In fact, Jordan and the team settled on using just a pair of wings for three years with no lettering attached. At the time, there were a lot of fans out there that genuinely had zero clue as to who the brand was behind the wings. There wasn’t any meaning behind it and most times logos have some form of creative lettering on it to let you know who it’s from. During these three years, shoes weren’t selling as great as you might expect. The first Jordans that ever released under the wing brand were really difficult to sell at $65 each. Some stores even started to list them at $20 on the clearance rack because nobody wanted them. Then, fast forward a bit of time and Jordan now has a legendary logo and a ridiculous amount of shoe sales to go along with it. The logo change was so popular and recognized for years that many fans actually believe it is the logo of the league itself. At first glance, you may think that the logo is so familiar it just seems right that it is the official NBA one, but it is still the great Jerry West.
What Is The Jordan Brand Worth Today?
The numbers are ever changing for the Jordan brand nowadays, but after the Last Dance documentary released, numbers started to come out regarding their worth. It was reported that Jordan signed onto Nike for approximately $500,000 a year back then. Nowadays, he is making about $100 to $120 million each year just from royalties in the company. As for his overall brand selling shoes, he allegedly earns $130 million a year. The Jordan Brand itself has reportedly paid him about $1.3 billion in total. This isn’t all that surprising considering how expensive some of his original shoes are selling for today. Sneakerheads will do anything to capture a pair of these legendary old school shoes. Some websites have those original pairs listed for as much as $2 million for just one. Yes, they are that expensive and popular among collectors. Funnily enough, Jordan didn’t even want to begin making his brand with Nike back when it all started. He originally was going to sign with Adidas. We got to see the full story in the Last Dance documentary, but he revealed that his mother forced him to travel and listen to the deal that Nike was putting onto the table. While he was very against it at the time, he ultimately went and received a huge pitch towards him and his father. Nike not only offered that $500K a year, but they also gave him the opportunity to get a signature shoe which Adidas didn’t want to offer yet. His father told him that he’d be a fool if he chose to decline the offer. Now, look at the money he is making from this logo and brand. The Jordan logo has gone down as one of the greatest logos in the history of shoe branding.