Scott Gladd, MFA
4 min readJan 27, 2019


PROJECT BRIEF | olympic bid

The modern olympics have been held biannually since 1896 (alternating between summer and winter occurring every four years).

Being chosen by the Olympic Committee to host the summer or winter games is a great honor many cities dream to one day achieve. The process is lengthy, involving first an invitation to learn about what hosting the olympics entails, the candidature process and finally becoming an official candidate city, at which point the proposal from each city includes their games concept and strategy, funding, delivery, experience and legacy.

Not surprisingly, the United States has the highest number of total bids (56) almost triple the number of the next closest country (Canada, 18). Eight of the 56 were awarded as the olympic host cities.

US Olympic logos:

Summer Olympics

CWTL: 1904 St. Louis, 1932 Los Angeles, 1996 Atlanta, 1984 Los Angeles

Winter Olympics

CWTL: 1932 Lake Placid, 1960 Squaw Valley, 2002 Salt Lake City, 1980 Lake Placid

The candidature and planning process requires years of preparation, therefore the next decade+ of Olympic games locations is currently underway. Imagine being charged with designing a logo for an event occurring 10–15 years from now!? What challenges would you face? How can you communicate the essence of a city — it’s culture, it’s people, it’s landscape — while projecting the future? It’s time to consider these questions, because this is your next logo assignment! More details at the end.

Interestingly, a logo chosen to represent a city for it’s Olympic candidacy is not the same logo used as the official Olympic logo for the final host city. Recently, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo marks have gone through even more changes (and challenges):

Top Row: Original Olympic Logo, by Kenjiro Sano (2015), Belgium Theatre Logo, by Olivier Debie (2011) Bottom Row: Final Olympic Logo, by Asao Tokolo

Brand New: Olympic Bid

Assignment: Olympic Bid Logo
For this project, you will begin by choosing a city randomly from a hat that has presented a bid for the Olympics in the past, but has never hosted the Olympic games. You will not know if you are working with a summer or winter season until you have selected your city at random.

Please read the following articles as your initial research for this project:

Olympic bidding history
Olympic games candidature process
Milton Glaser Olympic logo critique
Olympic Bid vs. Official Olympic Logos
Summer 2020 Olympic candidate logos
Tokyo 2020 unveils new Olympic logo after plagiarism allegations
New Tokyo 2020 Logo

Once you have chosen your city, begin familiarizing yourself with its history, culture, people and landscape/environment. What makes it unique?

Create a mind map utilizing your research and combine it with information you’ve learned through the articles below about the history of the olympics and their logos.

Begin sketching! Please sketch your logo ideas by hand or digitally with a stylus — do not use existing typefaces or ‘example’ visuals (you may use visual references when sketching, but be wary of copying!

Consider the following Olympic bid logo criteria:

  • Able to be trademarked
  • Created within a limited bid budget and timeframe (remember this isn’t the real deal — win or no win — it will be thrown away eventually)
  • Engage business, government, sponsors to raise funds for the bid
  • Make a statement about the host city — an Olympic bid is surely an exercise in tourism and business, if nothing else
  • Excite the host city and country, and get everybody behind the bid
  • Appeal to IOC (International Olympic Committee) members
  • Not take away from the possibilities of what could be if the bid is successful
  • Be a symbol of what the bid represents — the bit people passing judgement seem to forget, what is the brand beyond the logo? What does the bid stand for?

DUE 2/14: Research: mindmapping/brainstorming, initial ideas/sketches on loose paper/printed for group/individual critique.

DUE 2/19: 50 sketches: spanning all categories of logo design. Silent critique.

DUE 2/21: Studio day.

DUE 2/26: 3 Revised Logos: black & white, mark or wordmark ONLY.
*if you were instructed to do more sketching, please bring in all of your sketches for critique as well as any revised logos you were instructed to move forward with (if you did not have any solutions strong enough to move forward with, keep doing research, brainstorming and MORE SKETCHING!!!!)

DUE 2/28: One final b&w logo: 12 type variations, printed, 4 per 11"x17" sheet.

DUE 3/11: Revised Final B&W Logo(s) with type: choose one and create 20 color trials. Please print your B&W logo on an 8.5x11 sheet at 1" and 4" in size, and your 20 color trials printed 4 per 8.5x11 sheet (6 sheets total).

DUE 3/13: Final Olympic Logo: b&w and color versions. Please refer to the email and Ai template for final submission.





Scott Gladd, MFA

Unequal parts creative director, writer, educator, type designer, father figure, Labrador Retriever. Have laptop, will travel.