When I was a teenager I would happily showcase Nike, Adidas, or Puma shoes on my feet. All brands looked just as appealing to me. Yes, there were the exceptions and for a couple of season one brand just got more than his fair share of attention (I still can’t believe how much I loved my Adidas Galaxy. Did I really believe that wearing shoes that looked like a spaceship was cool?), but all in all, no undisputed winner.
The days of sneakers everyday have ceded the scene to all sorts of high-heels, ballerinas, boots, wedges now – my horizons opened up to a whole new world. But every time I go to my gym’s locker room or when I get ready to go for a run, there they are: my Nike’s. How is possible that from being a brand among others, Nike managed to create such a strong bond with me?
First off, Nike was the first sports fashion company to partner with Apple and to supply additional software (and hardware) for runners to better track
their runs. After hearing my friends raving about it, I literally ran to the store to buy the inexpensive sensor to place in my (brand new) Nike’s. The new shoes feature a slot underneath the sole where to place the sensor. It was great: I could leverage my iPod, with the addition of a piece of hardware that cost €20, to receive insights and analytics on my performance that before only €100+ watches from Garmin would deliver. And this service was branded Nike.
As the iPhone started becoming ubiquitous, Nike didn’t fall behind. The Nike Running App is, to my experience, has consistently been the best running app out there. It maps your run and tracks your pace, it allows you to compete with your friends, or to tailor a personalised training. Serena Williams’ voice congratulates you at the end of your workout! How motivational is that? Through the desktop portal, your Nike profile gives you all sorts of insights and analytics and you can see all the runs you have ever made. And if you are a data nerd like me, you end up visiting that portal frequently and really digging in those stats.
Hit after the other, the Nike Training Club became part of my daily routine as soon as I downloaded it in my phone. This app features circuit training with a virtual personal trainer. It is uniquely catered to women. The UI is fantastic and the journey through the app makes it one of the most intuitive complex apps I’ve ever come across. And again, all sorts of integration with your running profile are present, the social aspect is strong: it has a place on my home screen.
Nike’s digital presence is unrivalled. And all of the products that they have created online are free for any consumer to download and use. You don’t need to wear Nike shoes to use the Nike Running app to train for your next half marathon and you don’t need Nike leggings to to the ‘the total body sculpting’ workout on the Nike Training Club. But at the end of the day, when I go to store to get another piece of clothing, I am now incredibly loyal to a brand that invests its assets in developing digital services I love – and that does so much better than many of its Silicon Valley ‘competitors’.