Get A Free Quote

Drop Us Your Details Below

    The Iconic Jumpman – Demystifying the Famous Jordan Logo

    logopoppin Published: July 31, 2023 14 min read

    Discover the Significance of the Jordan Jumpman Logo Design

    Athletic endorsements by companies has been popular for a long time. This practice allowed businesses to support promising/local talent, capitalize on a new star’s popularity to grow their brand, as well as helped athletes supplement their income.

    And this practice of endorsements gave way to proper business collaborations, as is the case with the Jordan logo. During the latter half of the 20th century, some athletes were starting to gain celebrity status. That was especially true for many basketball players, whose athletic prowess and dramatic way of play made them popular with the youngsters.

    Athletes like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and many more were expanding their influence beyond the sport, using the power of their fame and status to broker business deals. Some had collaborated with sports companies like Puma, Adidas, and Nike to launch their own collaborative lines of shoes.

    However, there has been none more iconic than Nike’s Air Jordan line. It resulted in such massive success that it spun off into its own line, and has been credited with saving a dying Nike’s fortunes.

    So how was it that the Jumpman icon made such a great impact on the consumers? What was it based on, and what is its cultural significance today? These and many other questions will be answered in this article. Let’s read on and discover the secrets of Jordan’s iconic symbol.

    What is the Jordan Logo?

    Jumpman Jordan logo on an Air Jordan sneaker tongue

    Let’s start with an overview of the Jordan logo itself. What is it? Well, it is the logo that represents the collaboration between Nike, and NBA superstar Michael Jordan. In the early to mid-1980s, Jordan was rapidly rising through the ranks of the top players of that era that included the likes of Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, and more.

    The young player’s style of play had a flair that attracted fans, especially youngsters. During a game, when Michael was flying through the air dunking the ball, a photographer took a shot of him in the air. That majestic profile was what inspired the Jumpman logo, and helped them model the design we all see and love today.

    Now, if you ask any professional logo design company about whether the design fits the tenets of a good logo, you will be treated to one of two answers. Some may be of the opinion that as a logo, the design fails. And that its success was only possible due to Jordan’s popularity. Other believe that the simple, understated design is the perfect representation and contrast to Jordan and his explosive style, making it a great logo.

    In any case, it has now been nearly four decades since the launch of the first Nike Air Jordans. And even today, the addition of the Jumpman on the sneakers makes them highly valuable.

    Michael Jordan – An Overview of the Legend Behind the Jumpman

    Michael Jordan playing

    Now that we know how the Jordan Jumpman logo came to be, let’s take a look at the career of Michael Jordan, and see what was it that made Nike want to collaborate with him.

    Michael Jordan was born in 1963, in New York. During his childhood, he played football, baseball, and basketball. Moving to North Carolina when he was five, this is where he finished his schooling, and where he took the first steps towards an illustrious basket career.

    While in high school as a sophomore, he tried to join the school’s basketball varsity team. However, with a height of 5ft 11 in, he was considered too short for a position on the team at that time. Joining the junior varsity team instead, he dominated the court. A year later, after training extensively, and growing taller by four inches, he was awarded a spot on the varsity team. In his remaining two years at school, he averaged a higher than 25 points-per-game.

    As a senior, he was invited to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game, scoring a high of 30 points, more than his average of 27 points-per-game. His high school varsity performance, as well as his performance in the McDonald’s All-American game, resulted in him being recruited by many colleges, including Duke, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Syracuse, and more.

    However, he joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a student athlete, and majored in cultural geography. Playing under legendary coach Dean Smith, he learned to improve his game. His performance led to him being selected for the NCAA All-American first team twice, as a sophomore and as a junior. His career taking off, he would have made it in his senior year as well, had he not left a year early to join the 1984 NBA Draft.

    MJ’s Time in the NBA, The Dream Team, and More

    Michael Jordan and the Dream Team

    The Chicago Bulls as that NBA Draft’s third overall pick chose him. During his rookie year, his impressive scoring statistics turned the tide of the team, that went from someone who won 35$ of their games in the last three seasons combined, to a team that became playoff contenders. Despite being voted the NBA Rookie of the Year, the Bulls lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.

    1985 was the start of the rise of the phenom that Jordan was going to be. At a Nike exhibition game in Italy, a dunk by Jordan shattered the backboard glass. The same year, during the playoffs, he scored a playoff career high of 63 points in a single game, while playing against the Celtics in a game that his team lost.

    In 1986, he had another amazing season, scoring 3000 points in a single season, a record held by only Wilt Chamberlain before. Despite the Bulls’ score of 40 wins, Jordan lost the NBA MVP award to Magic Johnson, and the Bulls lost to the Celtics in the playoffs again.

    However, it wasn’t until 1991 that Jordan was able to win a NBA Championship. That decade is considered the finest for Jordan, as it saw him become a part of “The Dream Team”, as well as win six NBA championships. He won in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1998.

    After finally retiring, Jordan spent time as a coach, team owner, and businessman, becoming the first NBA player to become a billionaire. Overall, the man is a legend, and his impact on NBA has often been compared to that of Wayne Gretzky on the NHL.

    The Concept of the Jordan Logo

    Jordan LIFE Magazine photoshoot 1984

    Now that we have discussed the significance of Michael Jordan as an athlete and a cultural icon, let’s take a look at the Jordan logo.

    Now, most of the sneaker aficionados know that the Jumpman logo first appeared commercially on the tongue of the Nike Air Jordan 3. However, the concept of the logo started out much earlier, technically even before Michael Jordan started playing in the NBA.

    As we discussed earlier, Jordan signed with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, after a highly acclaimed college basketball career. However, before he started playing for the Bulls, he had another commitment to fulfill. As part of the 1984 Olympic Games playing for Team USA, Jordan was a star player for those who had followed his collegiate career.

    Therefore, before the Olympics, an interview for LIFE Magazine featured Jordan wearing a pair of New Balance sneakers and executing the now iconic Jumpman pose. And that became a classic Jordan move. In 1985, to highlight the launch of Nike’s Air Jordan 1, Michael replicated the move, this time wearing a pair of black toe Air Jordan 1, and a set of black and red Nike Air Jordan Flight Suit. Set against a darkening Chicago skyline, it was an iconic image.

     Air Jordan 1 with photo of Jordan as hangtag

    While the Air Jordan 3 was the first to feature the Jordan Jumpman logo, the first two iterations of the Air Jordan did feature a custom symbol on it. Known as the Nike Air Jordan Wings logo, it was an iconic design in itself, and were accompanied by the actual picture of Jordan executing the pose onto a hangtag.

    Since the Air Jordan 3 however, the items have featured the logo silhouette derived from that Jumpman photo. This new logo featured an interesting asymmetric balance in design, which made the logo look dynamic. And today, the image is almost as iconic as the logo for Nike itself.

    The Evolution of the Jordan Logo – From Winged Design to the Jumpman

    As mentioned earlier, the Air Jordan logo we know and love today came quite a bit after the launch of the Air Jordan line. In fact, it wasn’t until the third iteration of the product that the logo was launched.

    Initially, it was a symbol of a basketball flanked by aviation-style wings. It was made as reference to the name of the sneakers themselves, as in Air Force. However, just a few short years later it was changed to the Jordan Jumpman logo. Generally, in a fast-paced and dynamic industry just as fashion and apparel, logos change as the design expectations and aesthetic of the consumers change. However, in the case of the Jordan logo design, the Jumpman has remained the same throughout its nearly three and a half decade run, with even the color combinations not seeing any change.

    Let’s take a look at the evolution of one of the finest sports logos, and how its drastic change affected the brand worth, if at all.

    The Air Jordan Wings Logo (1985 – 1986)

    Air Jordan logo with Wings

    In 1985, to celebrate the collaboration between Michael Jordan and Nike, and the launch of the Air Jordan 1, the company decided to create a logo representing this new line. The result was an image of a basketball within a winged badge, like those worn by pilots and aviators. The reason behind this design was to lend credence to the name of Nike’s Air technology, a cushioning technology in athletic shoes pioneered by them.

    The design featured a red and black color scheme, a reference to the Chicago Bulls colors at that time. As the team that Jordan played for, it made sense that the logo be reminiscent of that.

    Despite presenting on the first two versions of Air Jordans, this version of the Air Jordan logo felt like it lacked something. During that time, Nike’s lead designer experimented with a few versions of a logo inspired by Michael Jordan’s iconic Jumpman pose of 1984. However, before anything could come of it, Moore left the company.

    The Jordan Jumpman Logo (1987 – Today)

    Jordan Jumpman logo

    Moore was replaced by Tinker Hatfield, a footwear genius now known everywhere for his amazing creations at Nike. He used some of Moore’s sketches and ideas to come up with a new design that was inspired by Jordan’s iconic photograph. The result was the new Jordan Jumpman logo, which debuted on the Air Jordan 3.

    The new logo was an instant hit, and soon replaced the old wing symbol on the Air Jordan 1 and 2 as well. So iconic was the symbol, that even three and a half decades later, the design is still the same for the logo.

    The Jumpman logo can be seen in one of three colors, red, black, or white. This color scheme is meant to represent the Chicago Bulls team colors, as that is the team associated with Michael Jordan and his greatness.

    The Significance of the Jordan Jumpman Logo in Our Culture

    Michael Jordan dunks from the free throw line

    When we talk about the Jordan Jumpman logo in reference to our culture, it had a significant impact. For one, it bought about the change in perception, where sneakers became more than just an athlete’s equipment and more a fashion statement.

    During Michael’s time in the NBA, the association has had some of the highest viewer numbers and attendance in history. Before that era, the NBA had seen a massive slump in viewer numbers as well as fan support. But the numbers achieved during the final championship year for Jordan are a benchmark that the NBA hasn’t come close to since then.

    His fans started sporting their Air Jordans as a form of portraying their fandom, with both the winged logo and the Jumpman becoming some of the most popular basketball logos of that era. They became a sort of status symbol. It started the trend of buying and collecting sneakers, an item that had been seen as sportswear for a long time. And it also started the trend of brands collaborating with athletes and celebrities to launch new lines of product, a trend that gave us things like Adidas’s Yeezy line.

    Today, the Jordan logo is a symbol of greatness and immortality achieved by Michael Jordan. It is legacy that will be remembered long after he is gone, making it one of the best cases of personal branding examples that were a byproduct of a business venture.


    What is the logo on Air Jordans?
    The logo is known as the Jumpman, and it is the symbol of Michael Jordan from his 1984 LIFE Magazine article before that year’s Olympics.
    Who designed the Nike Air Jordan logo?
    Peter Moore designed the first version of the logo, called the Air Jordan Wings logo. The modern version of the logo, known as the Jumpman, was conceived and partially worked on by Peter Moore before he left Nike. After his departure, his replacement at the company known as Tinker Hatfield finished and released the new logo on the Air Jordan 3 in 1988.
    Did Jordan ever replicate the pose in the Jordan Jumpman logo?
    While Michael first did the pose for LIFE Magazine in 1984, he did it again in 1985 while doing a photoshoot with Nike for the launch of the Air Jordan 1. However, since then, he has not replicated the pose on camera.
    Why are Air Jordans so popular?
    Air Jordans are popular with the fans because of their status as an elite brand of designer sneakers by Nike. Moreover, the popularity is also affected by its association with Michael Jordan, an NBA star still loved by fans decades after his retirement.


    To sum it up, the impact of the Jordan logo has been massive, both on the NBA and on the world at large. Today, if you ask a basketball fan who followed the sport throughout the 80s and 90s, what symbol would they most associate with the NBA logo at the end of the 20th century, chances are that they would reply with the Jumpman.

    The Jordan Jumpman logo is an amazing study in logo design. The fine details and the iconic pose is something that is hard to miss. And something that many brands can learn from when designing their own brand logos.

    Latest news you want to know!

    Subscribe for cutting-edge design inspiration at Logo Poppin! Elevate your brand with updates on logos, branding, web design, and video animation.

    Subscription Image

    Note that by clicking “subscribe,” users may agree to our privacy policy and consent to Logo Poppin to use your contact data for newsletter purposes.

    Logopoppin Logo


    Logopoppin is a graphic design agency that specializes in logo designing, web development, video production and advanced branding services. We love to innovate businesses with new age technologies, allowing them to improve their visual reputation.