The recently revealed brand image for the Paris 2025 Olympic and Paralympic games has created something of a stir on the web. As with every other category, the market gets used to a consistent approach to how the brands in that market will present themselves, and people have all sorts of responses when a brand strays away from those expectations.
Over the decades the Olympic Games brand identities have featured moving figures, graphic shapes and bold colours inspired by the rings. The Paris 2024 branding breaks with these conventions in a design response that clearly has a different brand personality.
Whilst the design rationale from the IOC provides a perfectly sound basis for the design approach, it skirts the white elephant of a question; ‘but why does it look so different to the previous Olympic Games identities?’ This is not the first time the games have gone ‘off-script” with their branding; the London 2012 games branding created a furor when launched as a result of its cutting edge aesthetic. But now as then, we should not use popularity to asses the value and relevance of the brand design.
“The logo features the hair and lips of Marianne, the personification of the French Republic since the revolution in 1789. It is made up of three symbols, both simple and powerful. The gold medal, symbol of sport. The flame, icon of the Olympic and Paralympic movement. These symbols reveal a face that embodies our ambition to put people at the heart of the Games.” IOC
Interestingly the original branding developed for the Paris Candidate City pitch sits much more comfortably withing the context of historical Olympic Games brand visual language. The ribbon elements reflect the movement and energy of the athletes, whilst also representing the iconic Tower Eiffel. But with the Olympics as with every other brand, following the category does not always lead to the best solution.
The main question for me is whether the branding for an Olympic Games should reflect the spirit of the host city, or reflect the spirit of the athletes and the Games themselves. As is often the case, the answer is neither one nor the other, but both. In my view this brand mark leans too strongly on representing Paris as a place and falls short on reflecting the energy of the Games. However, with the implementation of the secondary brand visual language yet to be revealed, in the best designed branding, the mark is just one element (albeit an important one) in the overall system. I’ll reserve my judgement until we understand the brand image in its totality.
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a branding agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more here
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