First, we took the time to rank our favorite Olympic logos ever. You didn’t think we’d neglect to mention our least favorite logos, did you?
Generally, the ones that we thought didn’t measure up lacked the attributes that we were looking for: a grounding in local culture, a sense of sport or activity, and a sense of timeliness. But more simply, in some cases, we just didn’t like how they looked.
As judged by the six-person editorial team here at Ceros, these are our least favorite Olympic logos of all time, ranked:
10. Los Angeles — 1932 Summer Olympics
In fairness, the use of an Olympic logo was pretty limited back in 1932, but this is far too busy and barely legible. No matter the limited application—today’s logos have to pop on mobile screens and Jumbotrons, t-shirts and TV ads—some decluttering would’ve helped this 1932 design quite a bit.
9. St. Moritz — 1948 Winter Olympics
Not so much a logo as it is the cover of the brochure that they hand you at the entrance gates of the stadium. Regardless, it’s boring and hard to read.
8. Tokyo — 2020 Summer Olympics
Accusations of plagiarism got things off on the wrong foot for Tokyo 2020. This logo, which replaced the original, seems more like a snowflake than an emblem of summer. It doesn’t evoke images of Japan or Tokyo, and we wonder if this logo is more evocative of the artist’s style than of the host country.
7. Oslo — 1952 Winter Olympics
Oslo Town Hall is a funky-looking building, but its huge clock face and tall rectangular windows add some gawky charm. In this logo, the building looks like nothing more than three LEGOs. Boring, dense, and hard to read.
6. Sapporo — 1972 Winter Olympics
Though we loved Tokyo 1964, Sapporo’s logo just didn’t add up. Not quite an homage to Tokyo, it’s a pale imitation, with the careless addition of the snowflake. The elements feel disjointed and weirdly independent, like four logos haphazardly stacked on one another.
5. Albertville — 1992 Winter Olympics
Quick—where’s Albertville? Sounds like it could be Canada. Is it Switzerland? Fair guess based on the red-and-white cross design. Too bad it’s France. Using the flame as the focal point is also pretty generic, not at all rooted in local culture. Finally, what even are the composition lines in the background?
4. London — 1948 Summer Olympics
This Ye Olde Olympics logo feels traditional to a fault, even for the 1940s. The Palace of Westminster, although unquestionably London, does nothing to conjure either sport or activity of any kind. Neither does the boring black-and-white color scheme.
3. Berlin — 1936 Summer Olympics
Even putting aside the dark context of Nazi Germany’s Olympic logo, the line art is far too thin and delicate. It doesn’t read well in small uses. The Reichsadler (“imperial eagle”), a common part of Nazi Germany’s insignia, isn’t very sporty.
2. Paris — 1924 Summer Olympics
This design is noisy, the overlaid text is hard to read, and the image of a ship doesn’t seem to fit either the Olympics or landlocked Paris. This was the first Games with a unique logo, and they certainly left some room for improvement.
1. Sochi — 2014 Winter Olympics
Before we impart some constructive criticism onto Sochi’s logo, we’ll say some nice things first: the URL structure is modern and forward-looking; there’s some graphic flair—the S and Z reflect one another, as do the H and the 4; and It’s a good typographical exercise. And that’s where the compliments end.
This logo is a very lazy servant of the Games, the worst on our list of the worst Olympic logos. It’s not rooted in tradition, and we don’t learn anything about Sochi from this logo. If you removed the Olympic rings (which aren’t really integrated into the design), would you have any idea that this wasn’t just an ad for the Sochi Board of Tourism?