Nike Football: Nike Pro Genius 

Winners: AKQA

Award won: Digital - App Design 2017

About AKQA

AKQA is an innovation and experience design agency with operations on five continents. Inspired by the imaginative application of art and science, they look to collaborate with clients to create what’s next. With innovators, storytellers and entrepreneurs who are inspired by the future, the agency work with the mantra that they exist to create just that for their clients, the future.


About Nike Football and the brief

During Euro 2016 Nike Football’s inspirational message was to ‘Spark Brilliance’. To create the moment that changes the game. AKQA’s brief was to enable the audience to be that spark.
They started by interrogating what Spark Brilliance really meant. And that for any single moment of brilliance on the pitch, the spark always starts as an idea in the mind. Johan Cruyff’s classic quote, “Football is a game you play with your brain” is one of many soundbites from players at the top of the game that reinforce the thinking around mental training. In elite football, fine margins separate the good from the truly great. Modern training is both advanced and holistic resulting in precious little differences between the physical, tactical and technical attributes of players. However, one great differentiator remains – the mind. That’s why the world’s best train their brains. It became apparent the disconnect between this acceptance and understanding at a pro level, and lack of understanding at grass roots. This was AKQA’s opportunity. 

Nike Football Pro Genius was born, a revolution in football training. It exposes young footballers to the importance of mental preparation in relation to performance, making the mental practices pro players build into their training regimes and match preparation available to all. The app is multifaceted with a series of tools and techniques designed to help young footballers with the mental side of their game. It features five training tools: Counter Attack, Priming, Cross Anticipation, Visualisation and Self-Talk – all exclusive to the app, as a mixture of interactive mobile games, audio tools and inspirational video content.


Why did they win?

AKQA went to great lengths to ensure the training tools were developed with the world’s best footballers and renowned sports performance psychology and mind training experts. The level of rich content, designed in a way that is authentic, true to purpose and with end user development at the heart of it, really made AKQA’s entry stand out for the judges. 

At launch, the service was available in 20 languages and instantly accessible to 2.6 million Nike Football App users. Rooted in exercises previously only accessible to pros, Nike Pro Genius’s design created mass accessibility; elite tools for young footballers globally. Combining that access with a UI specifically designed to engage this young audience made Nike Pro Genius especially unique and have the edge ahead of other entrants. 

Some of the Nike Pro Genius launch statistics also made for impressive reading in terms of the app’s impact and how the design of it held such significance in driving awareness for the brand positioning and brought visibility to the role of mental training in sport; on launch day, it racked up over 15 million views on all Nike channels, driving 120k downloads of the app. Within the first week, 570k training sessions had been logged resulting in over 10k hours of time spent in the app. 


The award win aftermath

Adding a Design Week Award to the AKQA trophy cabinet gives the agency an added level of credibility in the design world. They’re an award-winning agency with recognition across an array of disciplines and sectors but design sits at the very heart of many of the solutions they look to create for their clients; much of the future they look to create. 


Advice to those thinking of applying for the 2018 Design Week Awards from Team Nike, AKQA:

“Start by having a great partner and opportunity, as we did with Nike. Ensure the project has its foundation in a consumer need or insight. Making the app specifically to solve a human problem and designing it with a detailed audience in mind gave us a sharp point to focus the team. The research, insight and design lead us to the final execution, which in turn enabled us to put it forward for a Design Week Award.”