Every two years, a different city hosts the Olympic games, and each city gets to design it's own logo, which will be reproduced on uniforms, on swag, in print, online, on stadiums — global exposure for millions, if not billions, of impressions.
It's a challenging mark to create. It must include the 5 Olympic rings, the city name, the year, and a unique mark. Sometimes this is achieved quite elegantly, sometimes... not so much.
The AIGA has compiled all the Olympic logos since 1924 and had Milton Glaser grade them on a 100 point scale. You can check out Eye on Design here to see if you agree with his grading (I didn't). Also, see how many of the recent logos you remember— the only ones that felt familiar to me were London 2012 (for it's horridness) and Atlanta 1996.
As far as favorites, I picked three:
1. Athens 2004 - for bringing back the Greek. This is a simple, classy mark, that modernizes the traditional Olive wreath.
2. Tokyo 1964 - it so clearly represents the country in a totally simple and uncluttered way.
3. Montreal 1976 - I like that the rings are worked into the logo itself, though I'm not entirely sure if this is a "M" or a building.
And what about Rio?
The Rio mark is fluid and organic. The color scheme is fresh. I didn't totally love the dancing dudes though... at least not until I noticed the corresponding family of icons that accompanies it.
There's a full set of icons representing each sport in the games—clever little stick men sporting. These sort of sold me on the Rio mark.
So what's to come? On the Eye on Design page, you can also get a sneak peak at the works-in-progress for the 2018 PyeongChang, 2020 Tokyo and the 2022 Beijing game marks. Nothing like spying on the design process! ;)