The Olympics are an amazing celebration of sport, nationalism and community. The athletes are an example of hard work and dedication and are under pressure to bring their countries glory and recognition through winning medals.
Unveiling an Olympic logo is a brave feat on its own accord. With millions of viewers glued to the television at every moment of a world event there is sure to be some criticism. Branding plays a big role in any big event. The Olympics are no different and have often been a point of contention in the design world; with designers weighing in on what they would have/could have done differently.
In time for Rio 2016, Graphic design king, Milton Glaser, recently looked at “the good, the bad and the ugly” of Olympic logo design and assigned each logo in history a score out of 100 in an article on AIGA’s Eye on Design blog.
Milton Glaser is a celebrated designer; best known for his iconic I ♥ NY logo, which is one of the most imitated and widely distributed marks in the world.
Coming in tied for last with the low score of 20/100 are Paris – Summer Olympics 1924 and Berlin – Summer Olympics 1936. Glaser suggests they both lack focus, with imagery that is confusing and unrelated to the Olympic games.
His top logo choice was Tokyo – Summer Olympics 1964, which he scored a 92/100. “Appropriately redacted and without any confusion. The parts fit.”
Some of Glaser’s criticism centered on questions regarding the strategy for a mark of such magnitude and historical significance; “it raised the old question of the struggle between novelty and familiarity.”
When speaking about the highly controversial London – Winter Olympics 2012 logo?, he noted “as an assembly of forms, I find it unattractive. But because of its aggression, it persists in memory.” He scored the logo a rather high 80/100 reaffirming that anything transgressive is likely to cause more controversy.
To view Glaser's complete audit of the Olympic logos of the past, present and future, take a read through the original article.
First introduced in the 1948 games, refined by many after and notably perfected by the Germans for the 1972 Munich Olympics, pictograms remain one of the most familiar forms of Olympic language. But that’s a whole other blog post.