What’s in a logo? When it comes to the Olympic games: geography.
While the concept of a “logo” is a relatively modern phenomenon spurred by the rise of capitalism and reproducible print, the Olympics have long been infused with geographic symbolism. Take the Olympic flag, for starters: The five interlocking rings are typically taken to represent the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Why are the North and South American continents lumped together? That’s a political question I hope another geographer out there can answer!
In addition to universal Olympic symbols like the torch and five-ring flag, each of the host cities supporting the modern games has developed icons to mark its unique incarnation of the event. Almost always, the posters, medals, and logos evoke a strong sense of place. The reasons are obvious: Olympics provide a great sense of pride for the host city, and often serve as a “coming out party” on the world stage. Let’s take a look at a sampling of Olympic logos from 1896 – 2016 to investigate how geography factors into design.
Disclaimer: I am NOT an art history or graphics expert, so I welcome YOUR input on this topic!