As hot pink and yellow certainly don’t scream “Olympics,” nor do they particularly represent England, it’s no surprise that bloggers have filled cyberspace with criticism for the 2012 London Olympics logo. Looking back, the 1948 logo is certainly more traditional, with the famous five rings, the iconic English monument of Big Ben, and a simple black and white color scheme, while the newest logo is bright, sharp, and unique. To understand how a similar purpose can result in two significantly different designs, let’s look back over the past 64 years of Olympic logo evolution.
Helsinki, Finland 1952—This bright blue logo stands as the beginning of a shift to more colorful logos, which, in the future, would base their color scheme on the Olympic ring’s spectrum. Like the previous summer games, this logo features an architectural monument to highlight the games’ location.
*Equestrian events took place in Stockholm, Sweden.
Mexico, 1968—This logo utilizes typography to emphasize the games’ location above any other element; the unconventional choice arguably acts as a transition from the previous colorful cartoon-esque designs to the ultra modern Munich design to come four years later.
Seoul, South Korea 1988—Seeming to foreshadow the coming change (these games preceded the abolition of the South African apartheid and the fall of the Berlin wall), swirling lines and gradation make forward motion the focus of this logo.
Barcelona, Spain 1992—In the year of the US basketball’s “Dream Team,” Barcelona’s logo emphasized the individual athlete, a trend that would resurface in Beijing and Sydney. The color palate holds true to the Olympic rings and plays on tradition.
Beijing, China 2008—The logo seems to foreshadow Usain Bolt of Jamaica breaking two world records as he sprints to victory: focus is on the athlete, and a monochromic color scheme ensures that the viewer is not distracted from this point.
London, England 2012—The London logo’s hard lines and sharp corners contrast previous logos that capture movement and athleticism through swirling curves. 2012 instead focuses on abstract design and the year of the games.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2016—Looking ahead to the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, it appears that the logo adheres to established Olympic logo tradition, upholding a traditional color scheme, imagery of movement, and an athlete focus.
After an analysis of previous and future logos, London stands as a striking anomaly, not a pioneer of a lasting change. This being said, the 2012 logo indeed marks the first time that the Olympic and Paralympic games share a visual icon; despite controversial design decisions, this emblem will forever stand as a visual representation of increasing acceptance and respect for the physically disabled, and this is certainly a milestone worth celebrating.
*Thanks for voting! The results are in, and here’s how the competition played out:
GOLD Rio 2016
SILVER Mexico 1968
BRONZE Munich 1972
Valerie Kuznik is a Strategist at Blue Marlin New York