How Nike Uses Sustainable Business to Renew Its Customers' Brand Loyalty
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How Nike Uses Sustainable Business to Renew Its Customers’ Brand Loyalty

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In my previous post, I said firms with multiple audiences are actually full of culture. People with disparate interests can still pursue the same product with similar intent. Because corporations have the most disparity, it stands to reason they also carry this culture.

But big business, you may think, is too generic to maintain a sense of brand loyalty. Often the only way you’d recognize a brand is seeing it capitalized: We don’t copy forms; we Xerox them. Bandages don’t protect cuts the way Band-Aids do, and Nike is almost synonymous with “sneaker”—even if you’re not actually wearing the swoosh.

A Three-Pronged Approach

This is no way to live for firms such as Nike, whose audience is too extensive to buy based on a catchy tagline. The solution? Tell stories like yours, in the following ways:

  1. Grow with your audience.
  2. Forget about the product.
  3. Write to the knowledge.

To prove the first one, we’ll look at how a green attitude is renewing customers’ long-standing commitment to some of the world’s most timeless kicks.

Message in a Bottleneck

Founded on the feet of runners (predominantly track athletes at the University of Oregon), Nike’s shoes were once a rather exclusive item, unfitting of the sales philosophy the brand upholds today: “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” This remark, coined by cofounder Bill Bowerman, gave Nike a shared purpose wherein anyone is a potential customer—not just collegiate runners like those who first trained in them. But a bigger audience makes way for bigger ideals, and sports outfitters can’t always nail it with a message of dedication to a familiar following.

Today, products are only as good as the practices that led to their creation. And although athletes don’t traditionally have a bias for sustainable or “green” manufacturing—let alone student athletes who depend purely on performance—it would be shortsighted to suggest new customers are simply injecting new types of demand.

Instead, it’s more likely current customers are wising up. One’s carbon footprint may be an inherent focus of brands such as Patagonia, but sometimes, even classic sneakers require you to come up with a new story.

Nike’s Solution

Nike sought a better world for its athletes, literally, through an initiative that yields more lightweight equipment by using fewer processed materials. And to be honest, I think it’s brilliant.

Nike finds brand loyalty in sustainable shoesThe Nike Better World platform allows the organization to explain how it raises the bar of success by lowering its impact on the environment, and it’s a far cry from something meant for short-term likability.

How do we know that? By how the athlete is preserved within each item the company develops: Nike isn’t just recycling old sneakers to use less rubber—it’s breaking those shoes down to lay new courts and playing surfaces. It isn’t just saving water like the average household—jerseys can actually obtain a more lasting color when dyed without it. These are important distinctions influencing how you think about and write for a company that has been around a while. Brands can update their story without reinventing themselves; they just have to bake it into their strategy. This keeps them from confusing the target reader at any point during the story.

Strengthening old brand loyalty shouldn’t require you to change the audience if the products stop selling or start diversifying. Instead, grow with your audience. Chances are, people want to see the same thing spoken about, just in a “better” way.

Keep up with this series by subscribing to the Content Standard Newsletter. Want to help companies as big as Nike maintain their brand loyalty? Join Skyword’s community of storytellers.

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