A Look Into Six Olympic Logo Designs

After more than 100 years of development, the Olympics has become a ceremony for the entire human being in the name of peace, friendship and joy, and the Olympic logo is an indispensable part of this great event. Each Olympic logo is a work of art that demonstrates the best designing ideas and skills of the time. For logo designers, what can you learn from those excellent designing works?

Today, I list 6 Olympic logos from different analyzing perspectives which help us developing inspiration to our own work.

Munich (1972)

Munich Olympic logo
Application of Modernism

1972 Munich Olympics is a disputing one that left us gray memory. Many people don’t want to recall that sad period of time. Well, let’s just forget about all the political aspects, and only focus on the design. Munich Olympic logo is an outstanding work of modernism in mid 20th century. It is simple in color and style, but profound in meaning.

The alternate of black and white creates a strong visual comparison; the revolving treatment forms around geometry with a central perspective, which is abstract in meaning. It symbolizes a shining and bright Munich.

The Industrial Revolution has a great impact on designing style; the Modernism created by Bauhaus College became the fashionable design style of the globe. It abandoned the miscellaneous decoration and advocated the pattern of simplicity and purity. Modernism preferred symbolic visual elements like regular geometry and abstract color to generate the world.

At present, Modernism is still an important designing skill in some cases. For logo designers, it is applicable to choose this style if you want to achieve an abstract and profound effect.

Sydney (2000)

Sydney Olympic logo
Color Combination

Sydney uses 3 colors to form an image of a running athlete relaying the Olympic torch. Blue carve out the form of Sydney Opera House; red and yellow shape the running image. Each color of the logo has symbolic meanings: blue refers to the blue harbor; yellow represents sun and beach; red means the native culture. The logo keeps the color balance with the warm and cold color combinations.

Color is the soul of the logo. Each color represents certain kinds of meanings. Before choosing any color, you need to understand the meanings of the color.

  • Red: action, confidence, courage, vitality,
  • Pink: love, beauty,
  • Brown: earth, order, convention,
  • Orange: vitality with endurance,
  • Gold: Wealth, prosperity, wisdom,
  • Yellow: wisdom, joy, happiness, intellectual energy,
  • Green: life, nature, fertility, well being,
  • Blue: youth, spirituality, truth, peace,
  • Purple: Royalty, magic, mystery,
  • White: Purity, Cleanliness,
  • Black: Death, earth, stability, and
  • Gray: Sorrow, security, maturity

Athens (2004)

athens olympic logo
Skills of Natural Features

After nearly 100 years development, Olympic back to its birth place. Athens left us a deep impression both in opening ceremony and Olympic logo. Check for the Olympic logos before 2004, it is easy to find difference.

The olive branch looks like a pleasant children drawing, it represents victory and humanism; the blue background is different in depth which shows the open mind of the Mediterranean. The whole logo conveys the sense of natural ease and pleasant.

Personally speaking, Athens Olympic logo is a milestone in designing skills. Compare to the frosty, mechanic of modernism, it is natural and intimate. So I’d like to call it natural skill. Instead of the regular geometric drawing, it emphasizes of using natural features, such as the random of handwriting, the sensation of pencil sketch or the irregularity of image. The natural skill expresses an open and creative mind that makes your work vivid and friendly.

For logo designers, it is common to design on a computer; however, it is important to get rid of the cold and mechanics of the machine. A natural mind creates a natural skill; a natural skill creates an atmosphere of ease and freedom, that’s something that makes your work stand out from the crowd.

Turino (2006)

Turin Olympic logo

Turin Winter Olympic logo is special. Compare to the other ones, I think Turin is special in dimension. The logo is inspired by Mole Antonelliana – the most famous landmark of Turin. The designer endows the building with an icy mountain image which indicates Winter Olympics; meanwhile, it could be view as a net that gathers the people of the world.

The logo looks like a real dimensional mountain top rather than a plain graphic triangle. It’s just like you look up to appreciate the high mountain – an excellent dimension application.

Dimension application is frequently used in logo design; it helps you to achieve vivid visual effects. As a logo designer, you need to be familiar with different effects to achieve dimension. Different combinations of line, shape, color, light, and shadow can create different effects. You need to radiate your mind through different practices to achieve the best result.

Beijing (2008)

Beijing Olympic logo
Cultural Elements Adoption

Beijing Olympics is one of the greatest Olympic Games in human history, and its logo is the most unique one because it creates a strong oriental cultural atmosphere. Each part of the logo contains rich cultural meanings.

The logo was inspired by traditional elements that only exist in China: the Chinese seal, Chinese character, and Chinese calligraphy. They have strong cultural signals that carve the ancient eastern civilization. The red seal catches your eye at the first sight; the hollow stroke in the middle is a style of Chinese calligraphy that shapes the character that symbolizes Beijing; most importantly, the character seems like a dancing person that makes the whole logo dynamic. Beijing Olympic logo succeeds in using cultural elements to demonstrate the attitude and personality of the whole country.

Culture is unique.

Wherever you come from, you must have your own cultural background. So it is a good idea to inspire from culture. It contains something that tells who you are, from literature to religion, from architecture to drama; it is inspiring storage for design.

So the duty of a logo designer is to find out cultural elements that exclusively represent the features of you or your client. Along with that perspective, your design often develops into a unique and special one.

London (2012)

London Olympic logo

London Olympics emblem was designed by WolffOlins. They adopt the number 2012 as basic elements of the emblem and transform the shape of the number to achieve a modern and meaningful effect. It expresses the idea of the 2010 London Olympics that encourages all youth to participate in the game regardless of region and nationality.

The most attractive impression of this logo is the transformation of shapes. The designer delicately transformed the numbers into abstract ones which bring huge visual shock that initiate your imagination.

Transformation is another important skill in design. In order to achieve a special effect, it is a good idea to change the shape of the number, text, and image. Although there are different ways to transform the shape, the key factor is you need to jump out from the regular thinking model, that’s something that leads to a special effect.


Wassily Kandinsky said "Any work of art is the product of times; the culture of each period of times creates its unique art." The Olympic logos were designed from different periods of time which represent a different pattern of art and aesthetics. They have a certain kind of guiding significance.

Whatever designing tools you choose, it is beneficial for logo designers to analyze through different perspectives, which broaden the mind in our own work. Perspectives are the original source that helps you to shape your design idea.