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Adidas: The Come Up of a Lifestyle Brand


January 27, 2021

When you take a look at the largest brands in the world, it seems impossible to fathom their beginnings. How does a company go from a small idea being worked out of a humble home kitchen to a multi-faceted, multi-million dollar giant operating out of cities all over the globe?

Of course, it doesn’t happen at once. It takes a lot to get there–perseverance through some ups and downs and continuous trial and error over time as you figure out what works and what doesn’t. One thing we can learn from the brands that have already made it through the journey to success is that strategic marketing is essential to making any brand valuable.

Take a look at the Adidas brand. The umbrella company owns over 700 patents and is ranked amongst the world’s most valuable brands. As one of the largest athletic brands in the world, Adidas has demonstrated all aspects it takes to become amazingly successful.

The Start

Adi Dassler Adidas

Adi Dassler founded what is now Adidas Group in 1920. The German 20-year-old was a passionate athlete and made it his mission in life to create the best possible equipment for athletes everywhere. He started producing shoes out of the washroom of his mom’s house in Bavaria, Germany, using the few materials that were available in the post-WWI era he was living in. Using canvas and studs, Adi created a lightweight version of cleats.

Being an athlete himself, Adi understood the need for high quality and well-made sports equipment, but he was never overconfident in his own knowledge. He would make regular visits to watch and observe professional athletes, and have discussions with them to find out what kinds of issues they may be having with their shoes. He would find out what it was they needed and create a product that solved their problems. This is one key takeaway that contributed to Adidas success as a brand–Adi’s passion for sports and genuine want to make athletes better drove him to create products that were solely focused on improving the lives of his consumers.

Making a Name in Sports

Jesse Owens 1936

By 1928, only 8 years after the brand was founded, Adidas landed its first huge success–providing the track shoes for their first Olympic athlete. It was successful again in 1936 when they provided the spikes for Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owen. By this time, the brand had expanded its market to over 11 different sports and produced over 30 different shoe styles to cater to them.

In 1949, Adidas rebranded when Adi Dassler wanted to transition the image of the company from a track and field apparel brand, to an all-encompassing athletic brand. This was the same year of the design of the famous three-striped shoes that are synonymous with Adidas today.

Expanding to Other Markets

Franz Beckenbauer Tracksuit

While the brand continued to experience great success in athletic footwear, they took the leap into apparel marketing in 1967 with the Franz Beckenbauer tracksuit–still a classic and recognizable outfit in sports and fashion today.

They provided their lightweight soccer cleats to the German national soccer team’s World Cup victory in 1954, and by 1970 held a more official place in soccer as the official ball provider for the FIFA World Cup. All throughout the 70s, they continued to expand their brand to different athletic markets using their same model of celebrity athlete endorsement. By the end of the decade, they had captured gymnastics, mountain climbing, and even branched off a new brand that produced golf equipment, TaylorMade.

Breaking into Pop Culture

Run DMC Adidas

Things took a huge turn for Adidas in 1986 when the brand transcended the sports scene and became a name in music. Without Adidas even knowing, the hip hop group Run DMC had written a song about their shoes, “My Adidas,” and it led to an unexpected partnership.

It was the first time pop-culture had seen the merge of sports and art, and inevitably grew the brand’s influence over a much larger audience. This was the beginning of an entirely new marketing path for Adidas, and one that would play a key role in the company’s tremendous success.

Kanye West Adidas

Today, Adidas has a long list of celebrities they have partnered with their marketing efforts. From athletes like David Beckham, Tracy McGrady, and Candace Parker, to artists like Kanye West, Rita Ora, and Pharrell, Adidas has celebrity lines that cover a huge range of customer grounds.

The company is still one of the biggest proponents of celebrity endorsement in their marketing strategy, and it contributes just as much to their success today as it did in the brand’s early days.

A Lifestyle Brand

Adidas Here to Create Campaign

It’s safe to say Adidas has come a long way from the small shoe company that started in a washroom. Today, the brand’s marketing approach portrays Adidas as a lifestyle. With campaigns like #heretocreate and numerous branches of the company, such as Reebok and TaylorMade, the corporation is definitely an unstoppable cultural force in the apparel and sporting industries.

The two biggest takeaways from Adidas success are their focus on their consumers and Adi Dassler’s passion for improving the quality of equipment for athletes. Through the whole span of their brand, they also used effective partnerships to build their brand image and to build trust with their consumers.

Over its lifespan, the Adidas Group has earned over $14.88 billion and has been ranked the 2nd largest sportswear manufacturing companies in the world. The company has collaborated with some of the other largest brands in the world, both within and outside the sports industry. It’s impossible to explain the reach of the brand in total, but it is evident in the popularity of Adidas products and abundant use in media that it has been tremendously successful, and that it isn’t going anywhere.

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