Five years in the making, a complicated disclosure agreement and a finger print locked office.

As a design agency there aren’t many branding projects which you can confidently say will be seen by the world.

The responsibility of developing the Olympic branding must be huge. I can remember when the London Olympics branding was first released to the world media. Its safe to say the initial reaction wasn’t so great.

With London being the previous Olympic games it is natural that people are going to compare.

London took a very different design approach to many that have done it before. If there was ever a hand book or a ‘how to’ design a great sporting logo its safe to say these rules were ignored.  There was no significant landmark or geographical reference to the host city, no organic rounded friendly shapes and certainly no welcoming approach. It is clear that this was by no means an oversight, but more so conscious design decisions made through out the development of the branding.

Unfortunately for most it still remains a significant design disaster.

So what does it take to become the design agency in charge of such a prestigious branding project?

To even be considered you have to be prepared to enter the most gruelling of tender submissions. If you are the chosen agency at the end of it, you have likely signed up to one of the most frustrating, time consuming and difficult branding projects you will have ever undertaken. This is all speculation of course and more so backed up from what we’ve heard from other design agencies.

We sit back in admiration for any agency that even considers to put themselves forward for such project. The brief is very simple, you need to produce a strong, distinctive and memorable Olympic identity. With no single decision maker and a whole host of opinions and interests to satisfy, then the desired agency must have the dedication of an athlete and the patience of a saint.

On top of this you will be required to sign a frightening NDA agreement and have an office which has no window, a finger print entry lock, and someone to monitor that any staff entering do not have any mobile devices, phones, cameras or laptops etc.

RIO 2016

The branding for the Rio Olympics was appointed to a major Brazilian design agency called Tátil.

Tátil Are based in Rio and service other clients such as Walmart and Fiat. They were keen to ‘represent the passion and transformation of a city’.

The brand was developed to represent unity and to inspire success and achievement. As concepts and ideas started to develop it was clear there were some key elements. They wanted the identity of Rio to be focused around the ethos that they share their sky, ocean and happiness with the world. They are a nation with a mixture of cultures and ethnicities and openly embrace all faiths and generations.

They likened this ethos and spirit to much of the morals and values of the Olympic spirit. Rio is certainly a city that inspires us to live, love and engage with others.

With all this research, content and brand mapping completed, this led to some initial concepts of people joining together. The colour choices were probably an easier selection as Brazil is such a vibrant and colourful country.

Tátil explains that “Yellow symbolises the sun and our warm, vivacious and happy nature. Blue expresses the fluidity of the water that surrounds us, and our easygoing way of life. Green represents our forests and hope, a positive vision that inspires us to go even further.”

Cleverly they have sculpted the outline of the logo to represent a major Rio landmark. The logo has been mapped to the shape of Sugar Loaf mountain.


Overall we think the Rio branding has ticked many of the boxes even if it is slightly on the safer side of things. London certainly went in the extreme opposite direction with their branding and we’ve yet to see anyone give it some positive acclaim. I’m sure that like most design projects Tátil will have had many opinions to satisfy and will have also had many hoops to jump through. The Sugar Loaf mountain is a real clever and subtle added value to the visual identity. However after seeing some of the initial sketch concepts, it would seem they had a lot more creative, stronger and more original ideas at the beginning.  Maybe if they had the creative freedom and license to run with these ideas the final result could have been even better.

Grey Coffee offers Branding, and Brand Development to businesses in Nottingham and all over the UK.

We are happy to talk through any new projects or how we can support your business needs. If you would like to get in touch with us then email us or call us 0115 798 0699.