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Tokyo 2020: When the abstract world meets the games

The logos for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games were recently revealed, and so far, they have been the target of many critics. Something expected for an identity so simple - and yet so deconstructive.

Olympic Games Tokyo

Above are the official emblems of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games at Tokyo, released at the end of July of this year. In order to better understand the factors that led to these graphic representations, I couldn't help but want to find out everything I could in terms of the reasoning behind them.  

According to the Olympic Committee, the first symbol illustrates the letter "T" - in this case "TOKYO, TOMORROW AND TEAM". The Paralympic symbol illustrates the universal sign of "="  - meaning equality. The circle - present in both emblems - represents a more inclusive world. (Source: Official Website Tokyo 2020)

The color black – the combination of all colors – represents human diversity. And the red, the power of every beating heart. (Let's not forget it also represents the sun within the Japanese flag.) 

THE ESSENCE OF IT ALL

“When the world comes together for Tokyo 2020, we will experience the joy of uniting us as one team. By accepting everyone in the world as equals, we will learn the full meaning of coming together as one. The Tokyo 2020 emblems were created to symbolize the power of this unit.” (Source: Official Website Tokyo 2020)

The brand identity and the logo itself were created by designer Kenjiro Sano, who's work was chosen among 104 other competitors. He is well known for his prowess in various creative fields and has won numerous awards on an international scale.

Kenjiro Sano 

THE PROBLEM

Despite not liking the color scheme, I must confess that I find quite interesting the fact of seeing something that differs so greatly from past games, and that genuinely reflects Japanese culture and art. 

Olympic logos

After watching the explanatory video, I fear that the logos are something more along the lines of abstract art and less of a brand that actually communicates something specific.


In terms of typography, it certainly seems a bit more occidental than Asian (some even refer to it as a reformed version of Clarendon). The straight serif disappoints those who expected the classic combination of geometric symbols and sans serif fonts, something perhaps done intentionally with the purpose of conferring more detail to the whole minimalist set. 

But most likely, it is possible that the intention was to provide a nostalgic evolution from the Tokyo 1964 logo, designed by Yasaku Kamemura (notice the yellow). After all, the Japanese are nothing if not devoted to their traditions.

 Tokyo 1964 2020

But the biggest problem - and asset- from this identity lies in its simplicity, and the fact that it generates different interpretations, in a world as connected s this one.

The act of representing diversity through universal geometric symbols is not an easy one - even more so when the task entails presenting them in a new and innovative way. Now imagine what is must be like to design a logo as global as the Olympic games. Challenging, huh?

PLAGIARISM?

It's no surprise when the world accuses a brand of copying something previously seen somewhere. And with Tokyo 2020 it was no different.

According to sources, Belgian courts will issue a lawsuit against the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  Designer Olivier Debie claims that the Olympic logo is a copy of one of his designs, specifically the Théatre de Liège, launched in 2013. 

 Tokyo and Theatre de Liege

I personally don't pay much attention to rumors on plagiarism. For me, good ideas may arise in different places, making it common for things to look similar, especially in a technology-driven era. I do, however, consider that this particular case is beyond common sense. Both designs are extremely similar in proportion, balance, number of elements, form, typeface, and in... well, almost everything. I probably would have felt - and done- the same thing Olivier Debie has done.

The Committee insists that it thoroughly researched all trademarks on an international level before announcing the winning artwork. Mr. Sano claims he had never seen the other design. Could that be true? In any case, I  honestly doubt Mr. Debie will win - although he does have a point.

We still need to wait five years until the games, and many interactions and deconstructions will still be made with this identity. Perhaps it will improve with pictograms and be slightly altered with some dynamic graphic arrangements, making it a bit more commercial, without losing its Japanese delicacy.

As they say: "2020 is right around the corner." Let's wait and see.

Follow Giovanna Lettieri at EsttudioG

Brazilian brands get ready to hit the field for this year’s World Cup

Brazil World Cup

The year 2014 represents one thing for the sports world: the FIFA World Cup. Whether you like or not, it's here, and in less than a few weeks it becomes real in Brazil. How does this worldwide phenomenon affect Brazilian products? How are advertisers supposed to behave and compete with international brands in this very crowded marketplace?

The FIFA World Cup moves extraordinary - as well as dubious - sums of money that range from infrastructure to ad campaigns. "Brazil expects to receive 500,000 foreign tourists and move tens of millions of Brazilians for the host cities." (Source: Ministry of Tourism)

Within this scenario, Brazilian brands are offered a unique opportunity of competing on the same arena with other major international brands. As a country, Brazil should export a comprehensive picture of modern, developed and creative nation. An image that relies heavily on a good performance of its national products, since the brand identity created for the 2014 World Cup had proven to be a colossal failure. A poorly structured logo, foolish typography and a mascot that became a joke, all seemed a random combination of elements without any previous planning.

World Cup logo

The branding of the 2014 World Cup consists in a random junction of elements without much planning.

Despite the not-so-great image of Brazilian marketing and branding, national products may still have a chance to change this paradigm. Here are some ideas as to how to make that happen.

1. Brazilian pride

The country's essence and fervor for the World Cup dictates a distinct set of factors within its global marketing: energy, passion and happiness, which are perhaps more important than leadership and quality. National brands should encourage  patriotism by creating motivational campaigns that take advantage of their market and extensive consumer knowledge. A Brazilian-to-Brazilian approach and message within campaigns will generate an inherent marketing advantage.

2. Keeping an eye on FIFA Partners

Something that is definitely worth watching out for are the actions executed by the six major international brands involved in the World Cup - Adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Kia, Emirates, Sony and Visa - who have paid sums as large as £230 million to FIFA for a four-year partnership. These brands will bring a lot of creativity and branding quality and will be present in all matters of the tournament. These advertisers will have access to more than 50% of the world population. 

 3. Joining in

Brands should improve and promote the consumer experience and become a part of the worldwide event through local and spontaneous activations. Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube ...) are ideal platforms for Brazilians and foreigners to share their own experiences and interact with each other.

Brands could also integrate their efforts onto social and mobile platforms, paving the way for a more immediate and  tight-knit contact with the audience. 

Coca-Cola World Cup FIFA

 4. Adding value

Brands must find a way to incorporate themselves in the middle of the experience between fans and the sport without being invasive. Through this connection, they should strive to add value and continue a longterm relationship with consumers, not only during 2014, but until the next World Cup in 2018.

The tournament is ready and guaranteed to the public and the consumers; now the question that remains is whether it will get a taste of Brazil's victory.

 Brazil World Cup

Follow Giovanna Lettieri at EsttudioG.