The 2016 Olympic games, also known as Rio 2016, are about to start. They will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from August 5 to 21, 2016. Record numbers of countries are participating in a record number of sports and, as for every sports competition, logos represent an essential aspect of the event.
The logo designs of the modern Olympics have been striking, sometimes iconic, and they have always been a representation of the design ethic of the time. Powerful and in some cases controversial, designs often become symbolic of a time and place in history, playing a colossal part in the task of the games’ marketing around the globe. With technological advancements in typography, these visual representations have evolved and their role facilitates communication between the games and its audience and creates a lasting legacy for the tournament.
Here is a list of the most famous and controversial Olympic games logos:
The Munich Olympic logo is an outstanding work of modernism of the 20th century. It is simple in color and style, but profound in meaning. The alternate black and white creates a strong visual effect, and the spiral forms a round geometric shape with a central perspective. It symbolizes a shining and bright Munich. The Industrial Revolution definitely had a great impact on the design of the logo.
The Sydney Olympic logo is comprised of a brush-drawn figure, also known as the Millennium Athlete. “Sydney 2000” is written in a harmonising brush script and the five Olympic rings. The figure is made from symbols and colours emblematic to Australia. Boomerangs and suggestions of the sun, together with the colours of the ocean and the red of the desert, evoke a landscape unique to that continent. The colours represent the soul of the logo.
After more than 100 years, the Olympic games returned to their birthplace. The 2004 Athens Olympic Games logo contains a drawing of an olive branch wreath, “ATHENS 2004” in a hand-drawn epigraphic typeface design, and the five Olympic rings. The wreath, or kotinos, is a reference to the ancient Olympic games, where it was the official award of Olympic champions. Compared to the previous Olympic logos, the olive branch represents an innovative design in its simplicity. The blue background is very important too since it symbolizes the open-mindedness of the Mediterranean people. The whole logo conveys a sense of natural ease and pleasure.
The 2006 Olympic Winter Games emblem portrays the unmistakable silhouette of the Mole Antonelliana of Turin. In the logo design, it is transformed into a mountain, among crystals of ice, where the white snow meets the blue sky. The crystals come together to form a web: the web of new technologies and the eternal Olympic spirit of communion among different peoples.
The logo for the Beijing 2008 Olympic games continued the tradition of incorporating an image, the name of the games in hand lettering, and the five Olympic rings.
The image is a stylised person running, or embracing triumph. This figure is intended to represent the Olympic motto of “Citius, Altius, Fortius” or “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” It is also based on the Chinese character “jing” which means capital in Chinese and is the second character of Beijing’s name. The emblem and the figure within were drawn to look like a Chinese seal. Red, because of its importance to Chinese culture, is the predominant colour in the logo.
Based on the numbers “2012” and a custom typeface design, the logo for the 2012 London Olympic Games is, perhaps, the most controversial design in the 116-year history of the modern games. Developed by the branding firm Wolff Olins, the logo has been reviled by graphic designers, bloggers, design critics – and the general public. In the International Herald Tribune, Alice Rawsthorn observed that “it looks like the graphic equivalent of what we Brits scathingly call – ‘dad dancing’– namely a middle-aged man who tries so hard to be cool on the dance floor that he fails.”
The visual identity of the Rio 2016 Games is inspired by the harmonic diversity and contagious energy of Brazil’s people and Rio de Janeiro’s exuberant nature. All the elements were created based on the brands, allowing for integration and alignment.
According to the official Rio 2016 Olympic games website “the brand translates the Olympic spirit and the nature, feelings, and aspirations of the athletes, Rio and the cariocas. Different countries, athletes and peoples are joined in a warm embrace – in an individual and collective move, which at a second glance, reveals one of Rio’s most beautiful icons, a vibrant Sugar Loaf, radiating joy, unity, celebration, and friendship.”
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