NIKE 5 Principles Handbook

In a marketplace filled to bursting with cheap come-ons for this energy drink and that automobile, there are still brands, rare though they may be, that aren’t just trying to sell you a product, but instead a unique way of looking at the world. Nike springs quickly to mind. Their so-simple-it’s-profound tag line “Just do it” is expressed in everything they put their name to.

Over the years, I’ve featured a number of printed marketing pieces commissioned by Nike that have one thing in common: they push the bounds of what we’ve come to expect. Kirigami pop-ups, dazzling gold-foil invitation packages, gorgeous over-size lifestyle books – the list goes on. Sometimes the piece is tremendously showy, other times respectably subtle.

The 5 Principles Handbook that Engin Creative designed for Nike Sportswear definitely falls into the latter category, showcasing some stunning techniques in a decidedly low-key package.


Forget mission statements. This little notebook, roughly the size of Field Notes, lays it right on the line with the cover, which reads: “Times change. Players change. Styles change. Even the game itself is subject to change. But Nike Sportswear’s core beliefs remain intact. The principles that guide us have endured for decades. They are an integral part of each and every success. And their direction will be what propels the category confidently through its continued evolution.”

A tad wordy, perhaps, but that’s hardly the point. Explains Engin Creative Principal Kelley Doering, Nike Sportswear “bases their work and goals on a foundation of Five Principles. The aesthetic of the sketch journal is bold and inspirational in its own right, and also a compact size that’s easy to have always at hand. We wanted to give them a tool that would make the principles feel personal and a seamless influence on their day-to-day work.”

The design studio made it feel personal in part by the binding style they chose: Smyth sewing with exposed black thread. There’s no mistaking this for some mass-produced cheapie notebook bought in bulk. “The exposed thread visually talks about the craftsmanship of the book,” adds Scott Gray, VP of Branding at MET Fine Printers.

And as it turns out, the binding is just a hint of the experimentation to be found inside. As Kelley explains, “Each printed signature is dedicated to one Principle, so the user discovers these statements throughout its use. Each Principle is accompanied by imagery that supports the statement. Both the type and graphics appear as a half-tone application, but are achieved through precise laser cut perforation, revealing a flood of color beneath. Quite literally looking through these foundational statements to see the work beneath brings its inspirational quality to life.”


This notebook is a stunner in part because it’s just not something you see every day.

“The virtual half-tone, the unique signature binding and the premium execution of a flood of ink on matte paper made this journal feel exceptionally elevated,” says Kelley.

Adds MET Fine Printers’ Scott, “Curating iconic Nike Shoe designs in a very considered method by laser cutting ingrained a permanence into the book.”

That all of this was achieved with a sharp eye on its environmental footprint is particularly remarkable – naturally cutting is much more eco-friendly than adding hard-to-recycle elements. The use of FSC-certified Mohawk Superfine [Get Swatchbook] was also a good choice, says Scott. “Mohawk provides exceptionally eco-friendly paper options. And combined with MET’s carbon neutral operations and [volatile organic compound]-free UV print and binding with no glues or adhesives, the [eco] footprint is as small as the book itself.”

After years of exhorting us all to “just do it, just do it, just do it,” it’s nice to see that when it comes to innovative printing techniques, Nike is happy to put its paper where its mouth is.

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Project Details

Title NIKE 5 Principles Handbook Client NIKE Inc. Date June 2015 Design Engin Design Print MET Fine Printers Vancouver, BC Canada Paper Mohawk Superfine Smooth Ultrawhite 80 lb. Text

Production Details

Page Count 120 + cover Print Quantity 400 Production Time 3 weeks Printing Method Offset lithography sheetfed Number of Colors 2 colors (gold + black) Finishing and Binding Spot UV satin varnish; laser cut (rasterizing) with laser back burn gold print pages; trim fold; Smyth sewn binding

  1. C. Armstrong 2 years ago

    Lovely book and cover article, is there somewhere I can buy a copy?

    • Aaron Berman 2 years ago

      I’m afraid we haven’t been able to locate it for sale anywhere, sadly.

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