sporting brands

US Olympic Team Unveils New Branding

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 22, 2012 04:04 PM

The U.S. Olympic team raked in 104 medals in last summer’s London Games, 16 more than its closest competitor, China. The U.S. team also led the medal count at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. So things are on a good path athletically for America.

Obviously, there’s nobody at the United States Olympic Committee who is superstitious and afraid that any change could hurt the team’s performance because when the U.S. Olympic team takes to the slopes and rinks of Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Games, they’ll be wearing a new logo.

The USOC has introduced a new five-ring logo that “now feature the United States flag and the Olympic Rings in the designated IOC colors,” according to a press release.

When tested with consumers this past summer by SRI International, “consumers strongly identified the marks to stand for patriotism, inspiration, leadership and dedication.” What else could the USOC want in a logo?

This is part of a rebranding that’s been going on for two years now. "This redesign of our five-ring logo continues to build our framework for a consistent look and feel for all USOC assets as well as our desire to work collaboratively with the IOC,” said USOC Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Baird. “Additionally, since the American flag is the most recognized symbol of our country, putting it at the center of our marks signifies the importance of identifying with the history, spirit and symbolism of our country."

That’s all well and good, Baird, but can it finally bring curling gold to America? We’ll have to wait till 2014 to find out.


Tom Douglis United States says:

The Olympics have always been a global design showcase and one of those rare nation branding opportunities - a visual barometer of who we are and where we stand relative to the other countries of the world in terms of our national image.

These solid, classic logo designs are pretty much what one would expect from the USOC, but at least in my opinion, they lack some of the energy, inspiration and design promise inherent in the Olympic brand globally.

On one hand, I admire the simplity of the designs. With a national flag design from the 1770s combined with world's most recognized brand (The Olympic Rings, c. 1913), the USOC has plenty of iconic material to work with here. It's very easy to see why this logo tested so well - people (and sponsors) like what they already know and we've all seen how safe choices will always score better in logo testing. At the same time, we Americans are globally renowned for going too far with our patriotic designs (See Knievel, Evel) so it's nice to see the retro simplicity and restraint employed. The team USA 'badge' design also visually updates the old US Olympic shield branding from the the 1920s-1960s, which adds a comforting sense of classic continuity.

On the other hand, I see this a missed opportunity to evolve -- these logo designs strike me as the literal and expected safe choices - the same kind of thinking that chooses more classic designers such as Ralph Lauren as the Olympic Ceremony outfitter of Team USA.

With all the amazing design talent available in the USA, I would have liked to see more design creativity, modernity and aspiration employed in our Olympic brands. America is more than just classic design - we are an innovative, global leader that should employ more evolved thinking in how we display our national image to the rest of the world.

November 23, 2012 12:27 PM #

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