Sawdust Finds Their Greatness with Nike
Kevin Durant signed with Nike fresh out of an incredible college career. He was entering the NBA with an agreement with the top athletic company in the world and it was only going to get better. Pretty soon his signature sneakers came along, dubbed the KD, with new iterations releasing every year. But one thing has remained constant since that first year: the logo. A minimal “KD” has been the icon defining the KD brand. But this year, Nike needed a little more. They wanted to expand the logo into an entire typeface and asked Sawdust to help them out.
Sawdust didn't create the original logo themselves but they used it as the basis for developing the typeface. Since the original logo included only the letters K and D, there was plenty of work to do. And for a typeface that was poised to be as unique as this one, there was a lot of potential creative exploration. “It was about looking at clues to retain the feel,” Sawdust explains. “The reputation of Nike is so well known and progressive and dynamic and forward thinking. We were just trying to capture all that if we could through the rest of the alphabet.” They experimented with typographical details and played on themes until they started to find a direction they liked. And Nike liked it too.
They really explored their design instincts and Nike went right along with it. “Nike was pretty open to new ideas, actually,” Sawdust says. “A lot of the elements that you see, like the unique tails, they were inspired by the shape and the form of the KD, so that translated into the other letter forms where we felt we needed to include them.” They ended up with a full alphabet that drew from the logo but expanded on the design provenance.
Building custom typography is important, especially for brands as significant as Nike and for figures as large as Kevin Durant. If they opt for a premade font they run the risk of it becoming available to anyone else, which can dilute the messaging. By creating something that will remain exclusive to Nike, they can be sure the typeface will never be seen anywhere else and keep the integrity of the brand. “There is value in having something that’s completely bespoke and exclusive, because nobody else can get it. By having something completely bespoke for yourself, there’s a value to that.”
This isn’t the only typeface that Sawdust has created for a Nike basketball player with their own signature shoe. But we can’t give anything away quite yet. Stay tuned.