Inspired by the AIGA article where the great Milton Glaser rates every single Olympic logo, I decided to pick out my favorite and least favorite out of all of them. While the Olympics have been going on for centuries, the very first logo design seems to be from the 1924 Paris Summer Olympics. Anything before 1924 is more a poster than a logo. Since then, there has been 42 additional Olympics logos, each one very different from the last. Before I get started, you should read the AIGA article and see just how much the design of the Olympic logos have evolved in the last century.
1968 Summer Olympics – Mexico
The 1968 Summer Olympics were a big deal. Not only were they the first Olympic Games to be hosted in a Spanish-speaking country, they were the first to be hosted in Latin America. Graphic Designer Lance Wyman had a difficult assignment; creating a logo that portrayed the culture of Mexico. He was asked to create a logo that “isn’t an image of a Mexican wearing a sombrero sleeping under a cactus.” What he created was a unique, modern, and vibrate design taking inspiration from geometric Mexican art like Huichol yarn paintings and Aztec carvings. Lance’s logo is my absolute favorite because it portrays the vibrancy of Mexican culture without having to use stereotypical imagery.
2002 Winter Olympics – Salt Lake City, Utah
While although I couldn’t find the designer or agency behind the 2002 Olympics logo, it is definitely one of my favorites. The stylized snowflake design is unique, using colors that are found throughout Utah’s desert and mountains. The geometric shape of the snowflake design gives it a three-dimensional look and gives the appearance of the Olympic torch. I enjoy a logo design that steps away from the expected (ex: a mountain) and creates something refreshing and one of a kind, and the 2002 Olympic logo did just that.
My Least Favorite
2012 Summer Olympics – London
Created by the brand consultancy Wolff Olins, the 2012 Olympic logo caused quite a bit of an uproar from the design community and probably anyone else. So much so, that a petition began circulating to have the logo redesigned. There are quite a few things that I dislike about this logo. First, it takes way too long to see the year 2012 in the design. After you’re over the initial shock that this was the logo design for the 2012 Olympics, then does it start to dawn on you that the random shapes are actually the year 2012. In my opinion, the logo is trying way to0 hard to be edgy, modern, and bold. It’s not just the shapes, the logo feels disjointed overall, and the magenta color does not help make it any better.
2006 Winter Olympics – Turin, Italy
Designed by the Italian studio Benincasa-Husmann Brand Design, the logo for 2006 Olympics was inspired by Turin’s Mole Antonelliana, a landmark building named after its architect. While it’s supposed to portray a stylized profile of the Mole Antonelliana, it’s hard to see the beauty of the architecture in the design. The shape of the logo is awkward, while the font chosen makes it feel like this was designed for a technology convention rather than the Winter Olympics.