Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Olympic Logos: Introduction

I am a self-proclaimed Olympiphile. In fact, the Olympics are pretty much the only sporting event I ever watch. But in addition to watching the amazing feats of the Olympic athletes, around game time, I always enjoy looking at the Olympic logos, medals, and venues from the perspective of a designer.

Given my growing interest in graphic design, in the relatively recent wake of this year's winter games in Vancouver, I thought it would be interesting to look at Olympic logos throughout history. (You can find a full list of Olympic Games and host cities here.) After looking at all of the logos from the modern Olympics, I critiqued them through my own design eye and grouped the best of them into three categories: Gold Medal, Silver Medal, and Bronze Medal winners.

But before I get to the pretty pictures in the next few posts, there are a number of themes that I observed while evaluating the graphic power of the logos. Based on my observations, the best Olympic logos exhibit the following characteristics.
  • Graphic Simplicity: The best logos are simple, adhereing to the adage that "less is more."
  • Spirit of Place: The best logos express something unique about the host city or host country.
  • Spirit of Time: Graphic design aesthetics change over time. And although I am a product of my own time and therefore most of my medal winners are from more recent Olympics, in their graphic representation, the best logos generally express the spirit of their own time.
  • Wild Card: Sometimes the best logos are mysteriously compelling for no objective reason.
[This post is part 1 of 5. Click for parts 2, 3, 4 & 5.]

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