September 26, 2007
Nike's Air Native N7 Brand Naming for Native Americans
Nike's new Air Native N7 is the new sneaker brand name designed especially for Native Americans. This is the first time Nike has designed a shoe for a specific race or ethnicity. With a "culturally specific look" and a wider, higher design, it is meant to cater to the specific foot needs of Native Americans. The design sounds pretty cool: there are feathers inside and stars on the sole to represent the night sky. These are referred to as "heritage callouts," and are accompanied by "sunrise to sunset to sunrise patterns on the tongue and heel of the shoe."
The N7 name is a direct reference to the "seventh generation theory" which some tribes ascribe to, looking three generations behind them for wisdom and three generations ahead of them for legacy.
While alphanumeric naming is nothing new, particularly in the auto industry, this product reminds me of Wrigley's "5" gum brand, which depends heavily on the associations derived from the number itself (in this case the 5 senses), unlike the Milky Way 2 to Go bar.
I also must say that Nike has made a good move by addressing the needs of a small, niche market like that presented by Native Americans. It shows a kinder, gentler side of the company and underlines the interesting "core" of the brand name: "If you have a body you are an athlete."
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