Jonny Aldrich
Mar 27, 2024

Brands can learn a lot from Nike’s reimagined St George’s Cross

The new England football kit, featuring Nike’s reinterpretation of the St George’s Cross, has been the talk of the design world and much of the nation since its release last week.

Brands can learn a lot from Nike’s reimagined St George’s Cross

While critics have been emerging left, right and centre, slating Nike and The FA for ‘tampering with national heritage’, there’s a lot that other brands can learn from Nike.

Rather than the traditional red and white colours, Nike’s reimagined St George’s Cross on the collar of England’s home shirt incorporates blue and purple, also featured on the trim of the cuffs, in homage to the training kit worn by the 1966 World Cup-winning team.

Much of the outcry around the new kit has centred on the argument that our flag is a source of pride and identity that we shouldn’t mess with. But surely England’s World Cup win is one of our nation’s proudest moments, so why is Nike being demonised for celebrating that?

Serving and celebrating athletes is what Nike is all about, so it makes sense that it’s chosen to honour the 1966 team – it seems to be a genuine fit for the brand.

Whether you’re a football fan or not, most of us are familiar with the excitement that sweeps the country when England are winning matches. If wearing a kit inspired by heroes like Bobby Moore helps our footballers perform any better when it comes to the Euros this summer, I doubt the critics will be complaining any longer.

While this is the first time Nike has made changes to any nation’s flag, it’s known for using bold design moves to tell a story and is one of the leading brands when it comes to tapping into culture and embracing diversity. Just last month, Nike launched a new kit for all 14 National Women’s Soccer League teams, with each inspired by local culture and identity. With Nike as much a lifestyle brand as a sports brand, using storytelling to sell its products is crucial for reaching more than just sports fans.

You only need to look at current sales of Adidas’ Samba shoe, first popular in the 90s, to see that retro is also having a big resurgence when it comes to lifestyle brands. An attempt to tap into the enduring appeal of nostalgia could be another reason for Nike’s nod to 1966 and is certainly a good way to connect with a younger audience.

Whether you like the kit or not, Nike seems to be getting it right when it comes to embracing heritage and broader cultural trends, something that plenty of brands could learn from. While the response to the reworked flag seems less than positive so far, stories sell, so it will be interesting to see how sales perform now the kit has hit the shops.

Jonny Aldrich is managing director and co-founder of branding and design agency Deuce Studio


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