Olympic brand identities, love or hate?

Olympic brands, love or hate?

‘Inspire a Generation’ was revealed as the official motto for the London Olympics 2012. But the brand identity has not inspired all, to the extend that shortly after the emblem was unveiled, a Change the London 2012 Logo petition was set up on GoPetition.com. Will it grow on us in time?

Unlike most global brand identities a new Olympic logo is developed every 4 years, some are considered too garish or fashionable, others are considered visually stimulating and timeless.

Some of the identities really captured the spirit of their host countries and the essence of their times. One such Olympic identity was for the Moscow Olympic Games 1980, A socialist country, the red color is suggestive of the red color used in the flags of communist countries, while the star above a stylized Kremlin represents a very communist Russia reaching toward excellence.previous-olympic-logos

My own personal favourite is the inspirational visual identity for the Munich 1972 Olympics by Otl Aicher. Firstly he helped to design the logo. He went through several stages with his design team before finally finding the successful emblem, the Strahlenkranz, a garland which represented the sun but also the five Olympic rings merged in a spiral shape. In 1972, Germany was a newly democratic nation looking forward to a brighter future so the sun represented the Olympics and Munich as a city perfectly.

Oti also created all the brand collateral for the Olympics, He developed a set of innovative pictograms that paved the way for the ubiquitous stick figures currently used in public signs. The pictograms were created to provide a visual interpretation of the sport they featured so that athletes and visitors to the Olympic village and stadium could find their way around.

Using the font ‘Univers’ and the colours green, blue orange and silver as the brand palette, he created way-finding pictograms using a series of grid systems and the bright colour palette. These were used to identify allocated themes such as media, technical services, celebrity hospitality and public functions and each had a different colour so visitors could differentiate the themes around the stadium and village.walid

The design team produced 21 sports posters to advertise the sports at the games, using a technique called “posterization” for the graphics on the posters, separating the tonal qualities from the images and using the official munich colours for these games. This had to be produced manually as there was no such thing as Photoshop in 1972! Posters were hung in twos alongside posters designed by famous artists chosen to represent this Olympics all over the city of Munich.

Oti also created the first official Olympic Mascot, a striped dachshund named Waldi. His work today still inspires and can be purchased as collectors items, Maybe the London Olympics 2012 visual identity will get recognition for being ‘forward thinking’ or being a ‘kitch’ logo of its time.








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