Designing an original Olympic Logo

| Dean Anthony | ,

Logo design can be complex at the best of times, but when the world is your target audience things can get a little bit problematic. Some of the biggest design agencies in the world crumble under the pressure, some come up with something truly special whilst others simply copy other logos. This is a breakdown of the most recent summer Olympic games branding and the long and winding road towards olympic gold, design wise anyway.

London 2012 – That logo

London 2012 was four years ago. It was a fantastic Olympic games and you could genuinely feel the spirit of the games for those two weeks in July and two weeks in August. Everyone was on a high. This however wasn’t always the case. Roll back to 2010 when the official logo was revealed. While its impossible to impress 100% of people 100% of the time its still handy to have a little support. It was simply put, Hated. Called ‘ugly’, ‘crass’, ‘a waste of money’ to name but a few of the glowing reviews from the general populous. Needless to say is wasn’t popular but this did blow over when the overall branding was brought in. The games looked great on Television, in-Print and online. The arenas looked stunning as the bold magentas and electric blues lit up the events and made London 2012 stand out as an Olympic games to remember. The specially created typeface did wonders when bringing the whole concept together also. In summary the storm passed and people learnt to accept the logo or just simply forgot about it because we did so well at the games.

Samba de janeiro

Rio 2016 is this summer, while the logo seems like a standard logo its actually something pretty special. Inspired by the unique geography, culture and history of Rio it is a well thought out design and a bit of research into the designers will show the shear amount of effort that went into creating this logo. It’s brazil, it’s colourful, its carnival and It also actually says “Rio” within the three embracing characters. The logo was created in 2012 and so far has stood the test of time. This year we will be seeing a lot more of it, lets hope it can work in the same way the London 2012 worked in situ.

Tokyo, Tomorrow, Team & Terrible

Following Rio 2016 is Tokyo. When Tokyo was announced as the 2020 Olympic city I was genuinely impressed/excited. Its been sometime since the games have been held on Japan’s shores. The culture of Japan and the metropolis of Tokyo would make a fantastic setting and give a more urban/unique games. Can you just imagine what the opening ceremony is going to be like? All that technological history & all those icons. Sure things got off to a stormy start with regards to the Stadium design, spiralling costs, bickering between various architects and scrapping of entire venues but as with recent games this has become the politics and strain of hosting. Fast forward to July of 2015 and we finally have some branding from the games. The branding was revealed to great fanfare.

The emblem had a T standing for “Tokyo, tomorrow and Team” it was very clean, slick and very japan. Well that was until about an hour or so when twitter got a hold of it. The logo was trending and so was a image of another logo. Belgian designer Olivier Debie’s logo for “Théâtre de Liège” has a few things similar to the Tokyo emblem, and when I say a few I mean everything. The only Difference here is that there is no red dot, which in the Tokyo logo represented the Japanese flag. The designer of the Tokyo 2020 logo, Kenjiro Sano, has stood his ground denying any wrong doing and that extensive research was done in regards to trademarking issues and any similarity with other brands. The problem is that in a world where everyone is connected it only takes a few minutes for any allegations of plagiarism to be passed around. Also we have eyes. Needless to say on September 1st 2015 the Tokyo Olympic planning committee pulled the logo explaining that they would be having an emergency meeting to “decide how to proceed”. Well they decided, by October there was a design competition open to anyone to design the Tokyo 2020 emblem with a result expected soon or as there website puts it.

“12 January 2016 – Conduct domestic and international trademark verification processes”

It might be sensible to have this process go on for some time, Needless to say Olivier Debie has decided against pursuing the case as he simply “wouldn’t be able to afford the legal costs” but since i’m pretty sure everyone agrees on the similarities between the logos he has already won. Tokyo haven’t had the best time since being voted Olympic City. Here’s hoping that in the next 4 years they can turn it around, or they could just stick with their bid logo which to be honest is sort of perfect of Japan.

Viva le France

As recently as last week Paris announced their official bid for 2024, marking it; if they get it, a century since the last Olympic games on french soil. Exciting times! Naturally a spot of branding is in order. The logo was projected onto the Arc de Triumph with many people agreeing that it was a great use of Parisian Iconography and the use of the ‘2-4” within the logo, inspired. However shortly after our old friend twitter got a hold of it. Whilst not to the scale of the Tokyo logo epidemic it did spark the plagiarism debate. 4 Global are a British sports events consultancy with a logo similar in colour and style, whilst not an exact replica the similarities are striking. For such a large sporting event, possibly the biggest in the world you think a little more time would be spent researching especially when a sport related logo from across the pond could be misconstrued as a replica. This is only an Olympic bid logo so it isn’t guaranteed to stay if the games are awarded to Paris, just as Tokyo changed their from the bid logo to, Well that logo.

“We believe this logo captures the essence of Paris as a forward-thinking, modern capital city that is also proud to celebrate its rich culture and heritage.”

Co-Chairman of Paris 2024, Bernard Lapasset when discussing the reasoning behind the design. While I’m not going to deny that it  looks like the eiffel tower. I am going to call it out on its laziness. While no further action has been taken over the allegations, its still there in the public forum being discussed. It’s starting to turn into the Olympic equivalent of visiting

Olympic logos are always going to be a divisive subject. You are never going to please the entire worlds population regardless of the thought behind it. The problem arrises when world class designers & agencies are accused of plagiarism back to back. The next candidate city to announce their branding is Los Angeles, Tuesday 16th February. My money is on LA 2024 to be completely original, reflect LA lifestyle and have no similarities with anything ever before…for at least 30 mins.

SugarProjects - Olympic Logo design - Los Angeles 2024
LA 2024 (May 2015) & LA 2024 ( #followthesun Feb 2016)

Update* LA 2024 logo is here. Its original. Well its okay but it could have been so much more. The first logo revealed by LA 2024 was absolutely stunning now the update released this week seems a little bit genenric, if not very Los Angeles. Using the tag-line #followthesun we where given a few hints via twitter that the sun would play a big role in the overall branding from their teases all week. Keep in mind the candidate cities could change their logo’s again. We won’t find out until next year where the 2024 games will take place.

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