Olympic Gold Design

Holly Gerard / Posted 8.14.2012

Olympic Gold Design

Oh the Olympics.

No matter how you slice it, I’m a huge fan of them. Though I prefer the winter games, I enjoy the summer ones as well. The sights, the sounds, the tension, the glory, the design.

While watching the London games this summer, it dawned upon me that this year’s games’ logo was, well, not a favorite of mine. It’s hardly legible, to say the least! It look me a minute to even figure out what it was.


“Oh… It says 2012!?”

That got me thinking about previous Olympic logos. If there were some Olympic losers, that had to be some real, first-class designs as well.

While researching, I came across a very interesting collection of logos from 1924 until now. It is really interesting to see the progress of technology in design, just from taking a look at how these logos changed over the years. It is interesting to compare the typography on all of them. Some are great, others are so-so.

Please reference this article to check out all of the logos: www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/03/39-olympic-logos-from-1924-to-2012/

The advent of computer use in design sure did shape the outcome of many of these logos - ranging from okay to awesome.  Others weren’t improved regardless of technology, sorry to say.

The ones that stood out to me the most were the 1968 Mexcio, 1980 Moscow, 1988 Calgary, and 2004 Athens logos.


Gold - Calgary 1988: I really like that the Olympic rings form a maple leaf (referencing the Canadian flag). Design elements form a logomark, for the win! 

Silver- Moscow 1980: I like that the lines form a building with the star on top, a nod to classic Russian architecture. I like that the Olympic rings are flush underneath the mark, creating an overall sophisticated logo. A close second-place finish!

Bronze – Mexico 1968: I love the typography!  It’s super retro now, but at the time it would have been a very progressive style. I love that the typography reflects the circular pattern of the rings and then even incorporates them into the design with the numbers. Unfortunately, that part is a little bit hard to see right off hand, so it’s a bronze, since legibility is lacking a little bit.

Special mention: Athens 2004: A nice logomark on this one. I really like the hand-painted style of it. Plus, there’s a nice nod to the origin of the Olympics with the olive branch. I can totally envision athletes wearing togas and crowns of olive leaves. The only disqualifier is that the typography seems really bland.

It’s also interesting to note how some of the logos seem similar or even have similar elements and layout. Take Helsinki 1952 for example, the layout seems really similar to 1980 Lake Placid; it’s even the same blue color!

Several of them have a “grouped” theme going on with the shapes: Sarajevo, Calgary, Nagano, and Salt Lake are good examples of each logo’s designer’s opinion of the countries coming together.

In the midst of all the Olympic excitement and the sports themselves, it’s certainly fun to take a moment to think about the logo from each of the games and to see how they stack up, design-wise.

What are your gold, silver and bronze winners for Olympic design? Share below.




Holly Gerard

Designer at Q Digital Studio

Holly Gerard is a designer at Q Digital Studio who creates for both print and web. You can bet that she'll make it look amazing, whether it's on-screen or off. When Holly doesn't have her designer's eye at work on a project, it's usually behind the lens of a camera. Like a true Coloradan, Holly enjoys crafting up a good homebrew, rocking out to good music, baking something tasty, and/or trying the new eateries around town. As such, she's quite the Yelping pro.