#changemakers – Adidas

Picture this. It is the year 1920. Adolf(Adi) Dassler is just another cobbler living in the town of Herzogenaurach, Germany.  This young boy, all of just 20, also has a passion for running and extreme sports. Lately, something has been hovering over his mind. It is the need that he has spotted in the sports market for better shoes. The shoes that can enhance a sportsman’s performance and can go beyond functionality. And guess how he decides to deal with this need? With whatever knowledge he has as a trained cobbler, plus his experience as a sportsman and that mixed with his passion to bring about the change – Adi himself starts making sports shoes in his mother’s laundry! Today, the world knows what started as an in-house venture as the global giant ‘Adidas’.

Many can make shoes. But it takes vision and passion to turn them in to ‘Adidas’.

Almost a century back, who would have thought that what Adi was making in his mother’s laundry was going to become a game changer?  He wasn’t just making shoes. He was creating a legend. How did that happen? How was he not your regular shoemaker? What did he do so differently than the others that Adidas grew in to a phenomenal brand?

Let’s have a look at what made Adidas, well, Adidas!

  • Spotting the need and addressing it :

Adi Dassler himself was an ardent sportsman. Along with many other entrepreneurs, he too had spotted the need for better-performing shoes for the sportsmen. The difference between him and those other entrepreneurs was that Adi not only spotted the need but went that extra mile to address it by making an effort to create those ideal shoes by himself.

  • Determination to make it work :

Being a path maker is anything but easy. In Adi’s case it was even trickier as starting this sort of a business in Germany soon after the First World War was not a cakewalk. But it was his determination that made him rise above all the difficulties and continue with his endeavour.

  • Innovating and improvising :

As it was the dark era of post World War I, Adi didn’t have the privilege of availing the ideal material to make his dream shoes. Lack of resources, however, couldn’t bog this tough willed guy down. He tried making shoes out of whatever he could lay his hands on –  parachutes, army helmets etc! This outstanding creativity and never-say-die attitude kept his business going. It also indirectly refined Adi’s vision to develop the perfect running shoes.

  • Making it effective and result oriented :

As smart and focused as he was about his venture, Adi always kept himself in constant contact of many of the world’s best athletes. It made him understand their requirements and enabled him to perfect different shoes for a variety of sports. For example, In 1954, Adidas came out with shoes for the German football team. These shoes had screw-in studs, a first-time feature at that time. This feature made the German players get a strong grip during a match while running on the wet ground on a rainy day. It actually made the German team win against Hungary and these shoes came in limelight all over the world overnight.

  • Smart, fearless and unique ways of marketing:

Adi was always so confident and proud of his products that marketing them boldly and aggressively came quite naturally to him. By 1936, the majority of the German athletes used to wear Adidas. This also made Adi realize that athletes themselves were the best advertisements for the products. In fact, Adidas marked the beginning of the concept of sports promotion and endorsement that exists today.

  • Expansion :

By the time Adi passed away in the year 1978, Adidas had 700 patents and other industrial property rights under its umbrella. It had also pushed boundaries of its reign by its global expansion in to new product lines like leisure and clothing sector, apparels, sports accessories etc.


A thing or two to learn from Adidas

What kept Adidas a consistent brand was the clarity of vision of the owner as well as the alignment of the product with his vision. The basic idea behind the product that the shoes should protect the athletes from injury and that they should last; created such a pioneering brand promise in those times that it changed the consumer’s perception forever. The credit of inventing something as revolutionary as brand endorsement also goes to Adidas.



When you have vision, vigour and the right product; all you need is that determined push to widen your reach. A wider reach that you so aptly deserve. Your product can be that one thing that refines the way the world lives. What follows after that is an eternal glory. Ask Adi if you don’t believe us!

“You need good thinkers around you. Without them, you will go broke.”
– Adolf Dassler
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