They spend millions of dollars annually on sports products. Whether it's on football, running or hockey, companies in this field need to use a lot of imagination and ingenuity to capture market share. Today, we are going to tell you about the little-known history of Adidas and Puma. It is a story of two well-known companies founded by two brothers in Germany, and the evolution of their respective logos over time.
In the 1920s, in Herzogenaurach, Germany, brothers Adolf and Rudoft Dassler founded a small shoe factory. Their father was a shoemaker and they wanted to break into the sports market. Initially, Adolf, nicknamed Adi, and Rudolf complemented each other well. Adolf was the technical manager who would look for new ways to create shoes while Rudolf was an excellent salesman who marketed the products. Over time, they equipped some athletes of the German Olympic team at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics and the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The company, then known as the "Gebr-der Dassler Schuhfabrik", appeared to have a promising future.
During the Second World War, things began to deteriorate rapidly. First, the company became controlled by the army. They had to make shoes and boots for the soldiers instead of their sports shoes. Then, family disputes, especially between the wives of the two brothers, escalated. In 1948, the Dassler brothers' company closed, but two new shoe factories were created in the same German village, one on each side of the river: Addas and Ruda. As you may have noticed, each brother decided to use a combination of the letters in their first and last names to name each business.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, Adolf Dassler had to change the name of his new company to Adidas since the former looked too much like one that already existed. After some time, Rudolf Dassler, decided to change the name of his company to Puma so that it could be better marketed. Since then, Adidas and Puma have been two big players with Nike in the field of sports equipment and apparel; and still, after all these years a great rivalry still seems to exist between the two companies of Herzogenaurach.
Despite that one may think, it was not Adidas that found its brand image composed of the legendary three lines. The founder allegedly bought the idea from a brand called Karhu Sports for an amount of money and bottles of alcohol. In 1971, the German company created its first legendary clover logo crossed by three white stripes. The clover signified, at the time, the continents while the lines represented diversity. Thanks to this new image, celebrities began to proudly show off their Adidas products.
In 1990, Adidas wanted to refocus their work on sports products and decided to create a new logo. Called the performance logo, Adidas' three lines were positioned in a way that created an image of a mountain, symbolizing the obstacles athletes face during their careers. In 1997, the performance logo replaced the original logo. Since 2005, however, Adidas can be found with a logo composed only of its three well-known lines. They are found on all their products including their sneakers.
When Rudolf Dassler changed his company's name to Puma, he wanted his products to reflect the agility, power, and speed of the animal. The company's first logo consisted of a black silhouette of the puma running through the letter D, the letter of the founder's surname, representing Rudolf Dassler and Schuhfabrik (shoe factory). In 1967, a German cartoonist designed the new Puma logo by simplifying and showing the animal in a way that represented the desired characteristics.
In 1979, the company's name was added to the puma's image in a bold but effective font. Since then, the Puma logo has had only a few minor changes and the brand is recognized around the world. Many sports stars like football players Pelé and Diego Maradona, tennis player Serena Williams and Olympic champion Usain Bolt have become spokespersons. Even after all these years, it seems that Puma has managed to maintain excellent marketing skills since the founder.
In conclusion, it is interesting to ask what would have become of the Dassler brothers' business if it had not been separated into two separate companies. After all these years, there remains a rivalry between Adidas and Puma, who are both still located in the small German town where they started. At least the hatred between the two companies has resulted in having to innovate to gain more market share. How about you, which brand do you prefer, Adidas or Puma?