Branding a City and its Games – The Delhi Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games in Delhi are in full swing. And while all the action goes on, the lead up to The Games have the city buzzing with activities, preparing for international media focus. It is a unique time for a city to wrap its cultural, aspirational and significants around a sporting event.

How each city chooses to represent itself in its visual language is always fraught with controversy and criticism. While the event is solely about sporting prowess, the visuals should incapsulate the the spirt of unity, competitiveness, the culture of the city, its people and also, probably the curliest requirement, communicate the aspirational qualities of the city. For a place like Delhi, a sprawling metropolis that is as diverse as it is large, the task would be mind bending.

An explanation of the Delhi brandmark from the creators explains, ‘The logo depicts an India and an Indian who wants to reach higher, who no longer wants to be restrained but has the confidence to reach his/her full potential.” and “The games and the design of the games logo has been an opportunity to explore the Indian Idiom of design and to create a legacy. In the future, whenever the games are discussed or the 19th Commonwealth Games are discussed, the logo will be used as the representation and it best represents our times. Where, we each want to do our part to make the nation reach higher and achieve its ‘true destiny’ (as Rabindranath Tagore puts it). Which is why the chakra and the nation have been the staring point and the individual is the dynamic force or the creation”, both very solid thoughts for a city that needs to look to the future and communicate hope and prosperity for its residents. I would love to know how you feel about the mark, does it represnt the spirit of Delhi and The Commonwealth Games?

The Delhi brandmark got me thinking about how other city’s have approached creating their mark, so I have compiled a short history Commonwealth Games brandmarks. It is an interesting insight in how trends change and interpretations evolve.

I was suprised how little magic I found in the Commenwealth Games brandmarks, especially compared to some of the Olympics Games marks.

If you would like to talk about how your brand or event can have some real sass, drop us a line.

Lachlan McDougall
Design Creative


  1. You’re right Lachy, when it comes to brand design for the Commonwealth games, there is a history of poor levels of creativity and execution. Whilst not having anywhere near the profile of the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games are still a significant event for the host city and as such a significant opportunity for place branding.
    As the debate continues about the level of interest, support and respect the games command, I believe the visual language design for future games should play a role in lifting the profile.
    Is it time for a review of the soulless Glasgow 2014 brand identity?

  2. Hi Lachlan, very quick comment. Found your post on Games brand re twitter – am in the midst of a Commonwealth Games upcycling project right now with a non profit called Conserve India. We are aiming to make the Delhi 2010 Games the first major sporting event to upcycle waste into new products.

    Here’s a curly question for you: when a branded material (eg vinyl Games banners) is thrown into rubbish, does this mean the owner of the brand is giving up their IP rights to the brand? I’m contacting an IP lawyer friend about this but just thought I’d put it out there.

    I believe two of the main challenges for increasing the uptake of sustainability processes and technologies lie in 1. marketing and communications 2. intellectual property laws. Although there’s not much we can do about IP ownership and we won’t be able to sell the our Games products without organising committee permission, we are having a red hot go at communicating a story about positive change.

    Thanks for the pulling all those logos together (does anyone see Federation Square BMW Edge glass shapes in that London 2012 logo?)


  3. Thanks for your comment david. For me the beauty of creativity is that it can inspire people to participate, take notice and create deep connections. If the Commonwealth Games developed a creative strategy that positioned themselves in a new space, where it didn’t see itself as the little brother of the Olympic Games, it could become a powerful entity in its own right.

    The Glasgow brandmark is quite soulless indeed, and for a city that is (a bit rainy but) so rich in culture and history it seems that they are not leveraging their strongest assets. I realise that there is no one contributing factor, but I would love to know why the mark has been designed in such a structured and soulless way?

  4. Hi Liz, good luck with the upcycling project. In regards to IP laws, IP laws vary from country to country and are complex, my advice would always be to consult someone with expertise in IP in that particular market.

    The Fed square and the London brandmark do share similar triangular shapes, but there are some subtle difference that make each solution successful its market. The colours in the London brandmark are bright and primary, hinting at a festival mood, while Fed Square uses more subdued colours, a modern take on the industrial period. But the angular shapes are quite similar, something that it trending quite well in design circles at the present. We have created our own Brand Trend Report that you might want to take a look at. You can download a copy of it from here.

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