Are you familiar with Adidas logo history? While most people can easily recognise the Adidas symbol, few know how the iconic emblem earned its stripes.
At this point, the Adidas logo is so widespread it’s hard to imagine anything other than the three lines we know today. However, the brand image has actually evolved quite a lot over the years, since its launch in 1924.
Alongside brands like Nike and Champion, Adidas is one of the best-selling clothing brands in the world. As of 2018, the company was reporting a phenomenal 21.82 billion EUR revenue. That’s almost four times the size of Puma (5.5 billion), and just a little behind Nike (37.4 billion).
So, how did the Adidas brand reach the point it’s at today?
Adidas history: The incredible Adidas emblem
The Adidas symbol and brand was first conceived when Adolf Dassler began making sporting shoes in his mother’s laundry room in Germany. Back then, Dassler probably had no idea his company would become the iconic brand we know today.
In 1924, with the help of his brother, Rudolf Dassler, Adolf began working on a series of shoes designed specifically for athletes. By the second world war, the two brothers were selling around 200,000 pairs of shoes a year.
In 1947, the brothers split and went their separate ways, each founding their own company. Adolf changed the name of the “Dassler” company to “Adidas”, and even added his own name to the company’s new emblem.
Rudolf created his own company, “Ruda”, which later became Puma.
The Adidas logo as we know it today is an iconic image featuring three stripes (in varying sizes) atop a sans-serif wordmark.
Adidas logo history: Adidas logos through the years
There have been a number of Adidas symbols over the years. Some consider the original Adidas logo to be the Dassler shoe company emblem first introduced in 1924. Others say the official Adidas logo first arrived in 1949, when the brand adopted its new name.
The old Adidas logo first used before the company took on its new title was a simple shield-style emblem, featuring the name of the two brothers: Dassler. The design of the wordmark above the shield was designed to almost look like a crown, sitting on top of the flat part of the shield.
Within the black emblem was a white bird, carrying a boot. According to some experts, the bird carrying the shoe was intended to demonstrate how lightweight the footwear was.
After the founders of the company went their separate ways, Adolf chose the name “Adidas” for his athletic company. The first Adidas logo for the newly named brand featured a wordmark, with the name “Adolf Dassler” atop an image of the shoe.
The extended parts of the two “ds” were designed to look as though they were holding the shoe in place. This version of the Adidas logo also included the phrase “sportsschuhe” to remind customers what the primary focus of the brand was.
It wasn’t long until a new Adidas logo designer was hired, and a simpler logo was introduced. Only the name of the company remained in this version, with shorter “d”s, and a simple sans-serif font. Until 1967, this design featured the name written in white on a black background.
During 1967, Adidas refined its logo again, simplifying the font even further, and inverting the colors to black font on a white background.
This wordmark formed the foundation of the design for Adidas name we continue to see today.
In the 1970s, Adidas introduced its famous “trefoil” three-point design. This image featured an unusual shape, as well as a series of three white stripes.
Although the three stripes have since been associated with Adidas, they were actually part of the logo design of another company named Karhu Sports. Hit hard by WWII, Karhu decided to sell the trademark to their logo to Adidas for two bottles of whiskey, and 1,600 Euros.
The new logo design featured the iconic three-stripe Trefoil, with the existing adidas wordmark placed beneath it. This version of the Adidas logo is still present in some product lines.
During 1991, Adidas updated its logo to retain the three stripes, but create a sort of triangular shape out of them. The stripes were bolder, inverted in color, and rotated. This is the image many of us know and associate with Adidas today.
During 2002, however, Adidas introduced an alternative version of its logo which placed three stripes within a black circle instead. This was the design chosen for the Adidas “Style” range.
In 2005, another alternate 3-stripe logo was introduced, placing the three lines of the Adidas emblem alongside the wordmark, rather than in any particular shape.
The company has since returned to using the triangular three-stripe logo from the 1990s in most of its branding and marketing campaigns. Notably, while various aspects of the Adidas logo can change depending on the clothing collection introduced by the brand, the wordmark remains consistent.
Adidas logo meaning: The Adidas symbol
The Adidas symbol has taken on a number of meanings throughout the years with its various designs. When the Trefoil Adidas logo was initially introduced, it was based on a design from Karhu Sports, another company producing sports clothing at the time.
In 1970, Karhu revealed its trefoil logo – a design Adolf greatly admired. After the Karhu company began struggling financially, Adidas took ownership of the emblem, and used the image for a number of years. You can continue to find the trefoil logo today.
The “Mountain” emblem is the triangle-shaped logo many of us know best today. This design was introduced by the Adidas logo designer at the end of the 1980s, when the company was looking for new ways to update its brand identity.
Focusing heavily on the three lines which many customers had begun to associate with the athletic company, the brand designed to re-position the lines to create a symbol similar to a mountain.
According to the Adidas company, the “Mountain” image was intended to highlight the goal-oriented mentality of athletes, and the incredible accomplishments they achieve.
What color is the Adidas logo? Adidas logo colors
Officially, the colors of the Adidas logo have always been white and black. However, these colors haven’t always been used in the same way. Some variations of the Adidas logo saw white stripes on a black background, while others saw black stripes on a white background, and so on.
Like many fashion companies and designers, Adidas’ decision to maintain a monochrome color pallet for its official logo means the company has been able to recreate its symbol in a range of shades.
Throughout the years, Adidas shoes and apparel have sported various multi-colored versions of this image. Indeed, some collections have also focused on using a specific color. For a time, the color blue was frequently associated with Adidas.
Today, for the sake of branding, a black design and black font on a white background is the official choice of the brand.
The hex colors are simply:
Black and white might not seem like a very creative choice of colors for a clothing company or athletic brand, but it’s a very all-inclusive pallet. The logo can appeal to a wide audience easily and adapt to suit the needs of the company.
White also often stands for creativity and vision, while black can depict ideas of power and strength.
What font does the Adidas logo use?
Similar to the Adidas logo color, the Adidas logo font is something that has remained very consistent for the majority of the company’s life. The typeface of the brand fits the clean, simple, and focused nature of the Adidas brand.
Officially, the Adidas logo font is unique to the company, and created specifically for the brand. However, most experts agree this typography is based on the ITC Avant Garde typeface.
You can create a very similar design to the Adidas font using this type.
Adidas experimented with the shape of various letters and the weight of the font from time to time. For a while, the company explored the potential of unique shapes, or the decision to change the square circle above the “I” into a square.
Despite this, the brand seemed to find its ideal font in 1967 and stuck with it ever since.
If you’re keen to see more of the Adidas logo, these resources will help:
Celebrating the Adidas logo today
The Adidas logo is one of the many emblems in the world with an interesting history. Today, the three stripes of this iconic symbol are so well-known, it’s difficult to imagine Adidas once actually purchased its brand identity from another company.
No matter how you feel about the Adidas symbols yourself, it’s difficult to ignore their long-standing impact on the sporting market.
Don’t forget to check out some of our other Logofiles for more insights into leading logos.
Fabrik: A branding agency for our times.
Now read these:
—Meet the Adidas and Puma brothers
—Celebrating the iconic Puma logo