Birth of Brand Jordan: The Power of Branding

#Shoesday Special

Birth of Brand Jordan

Air Jordan 12 Retros “Playoffs”

“The Jordan brand became official as a Nike subsidiary with the release of the Air Jordan 12.” – Flight Club


As a copywriting company, we study marketing giants like Nike to improve our knowledge of what is effective and why.


  • What stands out most about Nike is every product has a story.
  • To me, the best stories come from Nike’s sister company, Brand Jordan/Jordan Brand.

Growing up in the ‘90’s I was heavily influenced by the marketing of Jordan’s shoes to the point I recently (2018) had the undeniable desire to buy my favorite pair of all-time, the “Playoff” 12’s.

Even today, I am inspired by the simple and clean design (it is art to me).

I loved the shoe even more once I learned Jordan brand became its own company with the release of its 12th Jordan.

StockX copywriting


StockX copywriting call to actions

Once I got my hands on the pair of retros released in 2012 (Thanks, StockX), I decide to look into the “why” these were my favorite shoe even though they originally came out in 1996. Obviously, I knew it had to do with the marketing but “what” about it made these shoes valuable in 2018 and how could I apply that to my own company, Stupendous Copy.


The Power of Branding:

Through its use of stories to brand the shoes, Jordan Brand has built a loyal fan base and continues to sell new versions of the shoe (International Flight), old versions of the shoes (Playoffs), and collaborations with fashion designers and entertainers (PSNY).

The stories connect with their audience through “emotional branding” which induces emotions from the consumer by being carefully crafted to evoke particular emotions and needs that can only be satisfied by Jordan products. ***psychology alert***

The brand targets 13-25-year-old males that participate in high school and college sports, as well as fans of basketball so every story is geared toward that audience.

The original commercial for the release of the “playoff” 12’s has Jordan playing the role of a “traditional narrative hero” working to overcome adversity (his age).

Check it Out

(The copywriting in the script is amazing)

The commercial is meant to inspire the masses by simpling saying even the great athletes like Jordan have to overcome issues.

Nike also infuses the features of the product is its marketing to enhance the effectiveness of the story.

For example, one feature of the Jordan 12  is its technology known as Zoom Air.

“Retro basketball shoes are the reason the brand still has value 15 years after Michael Jordan has retired.” – Rudy the Stupendous Writer

Incorporated Jordan into the Brand:

The main concept of Jordan’s branding is showcasing the character traits that make him a successful basketball player through the copywriting. The brand became known for its quality as it shaped the consumer’s mind into loyal customers.

With their branding focusing on appealing to consumer’s emotions, they position their product as a superior shoe due to Jordan wearing them himself along with offering consumers high-quality materials that in theory translated to high-quality performances while being stylish.  

Based on branding, Jordans became a status symbol and fashion statement as the logo was easily recognized by people not even familiar with sports. With that type of branding power, the shoes were able to be priced at a premium rate. That value created by the brand allows companies like StockX to make a business out of reselling authentic Jordans no matter how old they are.

Impact of the Brand:

In 2015, Jordan Brand owned 96% of the resale market – according to Josh Luber, the CEO of StockX.

In 2016, Michael Jordan had sold eight times more Jordans than the signature line of LeBron James, the top player in the NBA.

In 2017, Jordan Brand was estimated to be worth $3 billion dollars.

Quick Run Down of the “Playoff” Twelves:

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Tinker Hatfield

Name Origin:

Jordan debuted the color during the games of the 1997 NBA playoffs.

Release Dates:

Nov 1996 (Original)




Black/Varsity Red-White-Metallic Silver

Shoe Details:

1st official Jordan brand shoe.
Traditional leather uppers – stitched panels inspired by the Japanese Rising Sun flag “Nisshoki.”

Toe and accent – full leather reptile.

“Two 3” on the 👅.

Small “Jumpman” printed along the side panel in silver.

1st Jordan to feature zoom air.

No Nike branding.

“Quality inspired by the greatest player ever” on back tag.

Other Notable 12’s:

“Flu Game”


Collaborations/Highly Limited Colorways:

PSNY collaborations
OVO collaboration

“Challenge Me” Commercial.

Known for:
One of the most durable Jordans in the line.

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One Comment on “Birth of Brand Jordan: The Power of Branding

  1. Pingback: Social Proof is Social Media Marketing. Show and tell to sell on Instagram (IG Digital Magazine Marketing) – Atlanta-Based Freelance Copywriting

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