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Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic pictograms revealed

By Penina Finger | Branding | Nov 14, 2013

On the celebrated heels of its new logo and custom typeface, the Olympic brand team has just completed the most exhaustive collection of Olympic pictograms ever created in the history the event.

Taking their cue from the typeface designed for the Rio 2016 Olympics by London-based studio, Dalton Maag, the team worked for 16 months to produce a total of 64 pictograms, 41 for Olympic sports and 23 for Paralympic sports. A solid five months of that period was dedicated to validation of the pictograms by the 42 International Federations.

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Rio 2016 asserts that this is probably one of the world’s most complex design projects. It certainly could be the most well staffed: in addition to the designers brought in to create the games’ main graphic elements, a group of 28 other Rio 2016 staff were directly involved in the development of the pictograms.

Creating an individual pictogram for each of the Olympic and Paralympic sports is a first, says Rio 2016 President, Carlos Nuzman, and added, “This is one of our unique contributions to the history of the Games. I congratulate the creative team for their dedication and hard work together with diverse groups who contributed to this launch.”

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What we see here are the designs that were considered the best of the team’s proposed ideas.

Rio 2016’s Brand Director, Beth Lula, talked about how flexible these icons will need to be. “From now until 2016, the pictograms will serve as a communication platform for the promotion of the sports, for partner activations, and will be present in all the games’ visual identity.” Expect to see them on everything from Olympics web pages and shop stands to signposts and t-shirts.

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What do you think of Rio 2016′s new sports icons? How consistent are groups of designers compared to individuals? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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  • Jan

    Interesting article. Thumbs up! And I really, really like these pictogramms. You can actually see the hard work behind them.

  • daverocks

    Not sure about the horse riding events . . . looks a bit dodgy

    • penina

      Ha! We thought they kinda looked like fish hooks…

      • G_McSheen

        For a split second I thought Quidditch made it into the Olympics, then I realised there was a hook hanging off the end.
        My initial reaction was ‘Oh, Harry Potter took up fishing’

        It took me so long to realise it was some kind of horse riding event.

      • http://www.melisaarta.com/ Melisa Arta

        Lol I thought the same..
        Could it be due to the gesture of the rider o,O”?

  • Daniel Kim

    Whoa, graphic design team at Rio really rocks!

  • Marco Aurélio Rodrigues

    The pictograms look pretty neat and consistent. Fair play to the team behind.

  • named

    These are totally unoriginal and almost and exact copy of the Swim, Bike, Run Triathlon designs that have been around for a couple of decades…