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The #1 Lesson From Tokyo’s New Olympic Logo: Originality Matters

Back in August 2015, GraphicSprings published a blog post entitled 3 Lessons Tokyo's Olympic Logo Teaches Us About Logo Design. Unfortunately, with claims that Kenjiro Sano's design was plagiarized, we learn a fourth lesson: it's incredibly important to ensure that your logo design is unique.


In September 2015, a Belgian designer named Olivier Debie stated that Sano's design looked too similar to his own design for a Belgian theater. Though Sano asserted that he'd never seen Debie's design before, the Olympic committee decided to err on the side of caution and scrap the logo entirely.

Even if Sano was telling the truth and he hadn't seen Debie's design, this controversy brings up the importance of making sure that your design is truly one-of-a-kind. But in a world there are logo design trends and technologies (like ours!) that make creating logos even easier, how can one ever be completely sure that his or her design is unprecedented?

As a Wired article stated, "Cases of copyright infringement are rarely cut and dry, and that's especially true with graphic design, where its creators are tasked with trying to legally claim and protect abstracted, geometric shapes and lines. It's hard to own a square."

It is hard to own a square. That's why the new Tokyo Olympic logo committee reviewed all new logo design submissions thoroughly and checked both domestic and international trademarks--all nearly 15,000 of them.

Recently, the new Tokyo 2020 logo was unveiled. Designed by Asao Tokolo, the new design is inspired by a pattern popular in 18th-century Kabuki theater. A majority of the committee voted for it, and the committee also took the public's opinion into consideration. Over 100,000 people submitted comments.


Even though the new logo was deemed to be original, it still received some negative backlash. (Remember lesson #3 in our first post on the Tokyo 2020 logo? You'll never please everyone.) Still, the games must go on.

If you're looking to easily create your own one-of-a-kind logo, try the GraphicSprings free logo maker. We supply you with a jumping-off point, and then you have the freedom to design your own totally unique logo.

But first, if you're looking for some more important design lessons before you begin, check out the 5 most important things to know about designing a logo.