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3 Lessons Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics Logo Teaches Us About Design

Even though we’re still five years away from the 2020 Summer Olympics, the Internet is abuzz with opinions on Tokyo’s recently released official logo. Designed by Kenjiro Sana, the logo has been met with a whole spectrum of reactions, from adoration to disgust. No matter what you think of Sana’s design, you can learn something from it. We’ve put together three important lessons that Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics logo teaches us about logo design.

By GraphicSprings.com

1) LOGO DESIGN IS THOUGHTFUL AND PURPOSEFUL

According to the official website, the Tokyo 2020 logos were “created to symbolize the power of [the] unity” that the Olympic experience provides. The site then lists the significance of each color and shapes used in the design. For example, the black middle column represents diversity, as black is the combination of all colors. The red circle symbolizes “the power of every beating heart” in an inclusive world. (A fair explanation, but it also certainly mirrors Japan’s flag.) As for the abstract “T”, it stands for Tokyo, Tomorrow, and Team. These aren’t just four random shapes thrown together to form a haphazard logo; clearly a great deal of thought and purpose went into each component.

2) DESIGN TRENDS GO THROUGH CYCLES

Many have noted how Tokyo’s 2020 logo is a classic throwback to the simpler Olympics logos of the 1960s and 1970s. For SportingNews.com, the logo’s minimalistic abstraction and lack of bright colors make it seem as if it’d be “comfortable in the Mad Men era.” The logo certainly calls back to the last time Japan hosted the Olympics in 1964; the 1964 logo featured a large red circle and “Tokyo 1964” in plain, dark gold lettering. The 2020 logo mimics the simplicity and color choices made by Japan almost six decades prior. It’s notable that Tokyo’s 2020 logo has more in common with the 1964 logo than London’s 2012 Olympics logo or Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympics logo. While both the London and Rio designs feature wild colors and dynamic, complex images, Tokyo’s 2020 logo rides on nostalgia. It modernizes a classic design trend, demonstrating how these trends go through cycles. Check out all Olympics logos from 1924 to 2016 here and see if you can spot how the styles shift and recycle over the decades.

3) YOU’LL NEVER PLEASE EVERYONE WITH A LOGO DESIGN

This BBC article compiles several strong Twitter reactions to Tokyo’s 2020 logo. From tweets calling the logo a new all-time low for the Olympics to ones deeming it “pretty neat,” it’s clear that the logo evokes divisive opinions. Even a Wired article title calls the design “a confusing, geometric mess.” It’s impossible for a design to make everyone happy—this is a futile goal (especially in the age of Twitter, where anyone can spout off a judgment in 140 characters or less).

Even if you’re not hosting the Olympics, you still need a brilliant logo. Check out our post on the 5 most important things to know when designing a great logo. Take a page out of Sana’s book; make sure you choose colors thoughtfully and have your design tell a story. Then explore GraphicSprings’ free logo designs and custom logo maker--we recommend perusing our sports logo templates.

Click here to create your new logo for free; we guarantee it’ll take less than ten minutes! Please contact us if you have any questions.

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