About a month ago, I wrote about Nike Golf’s highly organized “apparel scripting” program for it’s PGA athletes. It’s science as much as art, like their amazing dri-fit fabric technology, but what it really comes down to is Nike’s singular dedication to brand management.
What does this marketing focus look like when it hits the links? It looks like a clean palate punctuated by an occasional swoosh. This unified approach to logo control is a unique and deliberate strategy that Nike uses to differentiate their athletes amid a sea of golfers sporting multiple logos across shirt, pants, hat, glove, shoe, belt and just about anything else you can think of.
By contrast, Nike endorses an entire athlete – head to toe. The only logo you’ll see is that iconic swoosh. And when it comes to choosing which shirt, shoes, pants and hat go together, Nike takes care of that too. I recently had the chance to spend some time with Nike Golf’s global public relations director, Beth Gast, down at The Oven, home base for Nike Golf’s R&D operation down in forth Worth, Texas. I’ll have more on that amazing trip in the next day or so, but one thing she made clear was that Nike understands the power of its brand.
And although relatively new compared to some other big guns like Callaway, Nike Golf’s brand is big enough to stand on it’s own, literally. Which means when Tiger or Michelle Wie, or defending U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover step on the green, all you see is ever present but discreet Nike. Is there a premium to get a world class golfer to forgo potentially lucrative mini-ads? Of course, no one will say how much, but for Nike Golf, the point is to dominate the asset, and when your asset (such as he is at the moment) is Tiger Woods, that additional concession is cheap compared to the brand benefit.
As I found out at the Oven, Nike is fixated on excellence. It’s always on full display, from the genuine love, bordering on obsession, that the R&D staff has for creating the perfect club to the technological innovations that drive everything from fabric technology to golf ball core development.
So when it’s time to suit up for a tourney, Nike’s athletes are looking good right down to their socks.