Is a modern office really an office without inspirational quotes scrawled on the walls, in the stairwell and in the meeting rooms? These days, such quotes are an integral part of office life, though it’s hard to tell if anyone is truly inspired by such maxims. However, we bet the ones in your office don’t stick in your mind as much as those in an old internal Nike memo, or as much as the famous Nike logo.
The memo was apparently distributed by Nike marketing director Rob Strasser in 1977 and includes ‘live off the land’, ‘It won’t be pretty’ and ‘If we do the right things, we’ll almost automatically make money’. , which are various degrees of odd. Let’s unzip them a bit more. First of all, we don’t quite understand what ‘living off the land’ means. Did Nike want its employees to forage for food? Or is it a comment on the use of sustainable materials (we suspect not)?
‘Won’t be pretty’ makes us think that the workplace was more of a horror story than an office. And ‘If we do the right things, we’ll almost automatically make money’ is presumably meant as an exciting ending to the manifesto. It’s a lovely sentiment that we assume is about putting results before profit, but let’s be honest, it’s actually not true in many situations. For starters, doing the right thing and capitalism or mass production don’t always go hand in hand. If you plan to start a business anytime soon, we don’t recommend sticking it on your wall.
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Personally, I would love to know how the memo was received by the employees at the time. Were you really inspired by ‘push hard, push others’ and ‘your job is not done until you the the job is done’, or were they cynical about the whole thing?
Possibly my favorite of all is ‘Break the Rules: Fight the Law’, which to me suggests that people should ditch the manifesto altogether, or maybe commit a crime. Although the more you think about it, ‘Just Do It’ says pretty much the same thing, so maybe this was just an early version of the now famous catchphrase. We’re glad they scaled it down if that’s the case.
We’re also left trying to decide if this manifesto is more or less wild than Pepsi’s design document. It’s complicated. However, both Nike and Pepsi have been very successful, so perhaps a little ‘wild’ is the way to go. If you’re not entirely convinced, check out our tips for running a commercial piece of design, which is a little less widely available.