What other identity can you imagine that is only asked to work in a very short time frame? This really is given tremendous exposure, more than any other identity and then it’s over. And then it’s going to disappear and go off into the archives as a piece of Olympic history and the next city is going to go and put their own stamp on it.
Salt Lake is going to come and go. It did come and go. The next Olympics came and went, and so on and so on, but the part that is ongoing are those rings. If you think of the strongest brands right now, you have Nike, you have Coca Cola, you have Apple, and I would put the Olympic Rings in that category as well. And there’s so much beautiful symbolism in the rings.
A ring is eternal, it’s a circle. It goes forever. The five rings represent the five continents and the colors of the rings represents one color from every flag in the world.
It feels global because of its shape. It feels international because of its colors and it feels so simple and clear. If you think about it, the Olympic Rings are very basic and from a logo perspective, they stand up really well. It’s a piece of the world designed for everyone. Everyone is part of this emblem and that’s why it’s, in my opinion, a fantastic logo and still working after so many years.
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When you get handed the rights to the Olympic Rings and you get given the rules and the guidelines, you feel a huge responsibility to look after, to protect, but also to also to grow and to make sure there’s a next generation of people that know and understand what that mark stands for. There is this background, this history that is behind the Olympic Movement and behind the Games.
Pierre de Coubertin created the International Olympic Committee in 1894 in Paris and two years later, he was able to organise the Games in Athens, the first edition of the modern Games. For him, it was a pedagogical mission.
It was a strong message that he wanted to deliver. It was really to help people to lift together and to respect others, to compete together in a way to be better in everyday life. So it started in Athens.
The Games were organised in Paris, St Louis, London, and suddenly, it was a success. Coubertin felt that it was very important to have something that can remind people that these games were something special, so he was certainly the one who created the most famous brand in the world.
Coubertin designed the five rings early in the 20th century and suddenly the five rings appear, but there is not a real programmed or a strategy regarding the display of these rings. But suddenly there is a fusion of the identity of host city with the Olympic Movement.
Visual identity is very important to remind that the Olympic Games are something that happens in a specific country, in a specific city, but at the same time it’s a way to speak to the world..
Also published on Medium.