The best and worst Winter Olympics logos and symbols
Love them or hate them, the Winter Olympics logos are some of the most iconic symbols in sporting history.
Although the Winter Olympics can sometimes play second fiddle to the larger Summer Games, they’re still a phenomenal opportunity for host cities and countries to share insights into their culture and heritage with the broader world.
Celebrating the diversity of the winter sports landscape, the Winter Olympics captures the attention of countless viewers worldwide every year.
They’re an opportunity to watch athletes compete to win the gold and learn more about the diverse societies that make up our world.
Virtually every Winter Olympics logo design aims to tell us something about the city or country responsible for hosting the games.
While some of the Winter Olympics logos have gone down in history as phenomenal examples of stunning design and creativity, others have, unfortunately, failed to hit the mark. Today, we will examine the best and worst Olympics logos produced throughout the decades.
An introduction to Winter Olympics logos
Just like the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics is far more than an athletic competition. It’s an opportunity for each host city to take center stage, shining a spotlight on its history, heritage, and geographical branding. Most Winter Olympics logo designs will have consistent components.
For instance, the five circles, or “Olympic Rings,” created for the official Olympic games by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, typically appear in every version of the emblem. Additionally, each suggested Olympic logo must be approved by the International Olympic Committee before the games begin.
As a result, while the Olympic games themselves only last a couple of weeks, the process of coming up with the ultimate brand identity can often take years. The majority of host cities for the winter sports events submit logos years before the games.
Some launch a design competition to assist in the discovery of new logos, while others source the help of professional designers.
This might be why so many objectively poor logos have made it through to our screens over the years.
The best Winter Olympics logos
While the Winter Olympic Games can sometimes seem like the overlooked younger sibling of the Olympic Games, with smaller budgets and viewership, it does give host cities a chance to tell their own distinct story through design.
Ever since the first winter games took place in Chamonix, France, in 1924, design groups have been experimenting with ways to connect with viewers on a global scale.
Notably, while there are objective ways to define a “good” design for an emblem, such as looking at color balance, shape usage, and typography, every Olympic fan will have their own preferences.
There’s a good chance you have a favorite logo from the Winter Olympics already, which may or may not be included in this list.
Based on our experience in the design world, here are our picks for the best Olympic emblem designs introduced for the Winter Games over the years.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, 1956
One of the earliest examples of an eye-catching Winter Olympics logo design came from Cortina d’Ampezzo during the Winter Games of 1956. Although this design might seem a bit complex by today’s standards, it featured a lot of compelling elements.
The landscape depicted in the badge draws attention to the unique aesthetic of the host city, with eye-catching colors of gold and blue.
The star above the Olympic rings highlights the focus on excellence and ambition within the Olympic Games. The surrounding circle also reminds us of the gold medal athletes compete for in the games.
This was also one of the first logos in the Winter Games to use a Snowflake motif, something which continued to appear frequently in the designs of the following years.
With an almost Art Deco motif, the Grenoble Winter Olympics logo was relatively modern for its time. The delicate, elegant emblem was produced in a variety of colors, including a soft monochrome bronze palette with a graceful white snowflake in the center.
There was also a version of the emblem which turned the circles around the snowflake red to symbolize red roses.
The three red roses were a well-known symbol for the French city at the time. The emblem, created by French designer Roger Excoffon, was stylish and clean. Even the positioning of the wording around the emblem made it appear more modern and impressive.
Another Winter Olympics logo to use the snowflake motif, the Calgary 1988, is one of the most attractive emblems produced in the early years of the games. The design used interlocking curves and lines for the snowflake emblem to highlight unity and the power of the games.
Thanks to the single line at the bottom of the snowflake, the design also doubles as a representation of a maple leaf.
The maple leaf, the national emblem of Canada, draws attention to the heritage and history of the host city and country. Additionally, if you look closely at the components of the snowflakes, you’ll see the lines look like interlocking versions of the letter “C,” which stands for both Canada and Calgary.
Designed in the official colors of the Savoie region, the Albertville Winter Olympics logo is a compelling and modern emblem. The design team wanted to create an emblem that was both meaningful and inspirational.
As a result, they used the iconic flame from the Olympic torch as the central component of their design, with the flag of the country embedded into the image.
The bold colors and simplicity of the design make it instantly recognizable and beautifully clean. If this logo was designed for a standard company, without the rings beneath, it would likely stand the test of time as a contemporary, compelling emblem.
At a glance, the Lillehammer Winter Olympic logo looks a little like the poster for a musical event. However, the lines in the emblem are actually intended to represent a stylized aurora borealis.
According to the designers, the emblem was inspired by the power of nature and the connection between the sky and snow in the winter.
The Lillehammer logo looks powerful and artistic, with its cobalt blue background representing the sky. The simplistic wordmark beneath the Olympic rings helps to draw attention to the design as the primary focus of the emblem.
The white textured component at the bottom of the blue banner also gives the logo a sense of motion and dynamism, representing falling snow.
Easily one of the most creative examples of the snowflake motif in Winter Olympics logos comes from Nagano in 1998. This stunning emblem is a fantastic example of a compelling abstract logo, brimming with hidden meaning and depth.
The different components of the snowflake, or flower design, represent different athletes competing in various winter sports.
The colorful and eye-catching emblem symbolizes diversity and unity, highlighting the community spirit of the games and the welcoming nature of the host city. This is a truly impressive logo with a vivid color scheme and a rich emotional impact.
Salt Lake City, 2002
Another abstract Olympic Winter Games logo, the Salt Lake City emblem, uses geometric elements and bold colors to capture attention. The stylized snow crystal combines colors found in the Utah landscape, blue, orange, and yellow, with bold lines.
According to the designers, they wanted their symbol to convey the elements of courage, culture, and contrast.
The design reminds us of sunlight rising over a snowy mountaintop, thanks to the positioning of the blue and yellow, and orange elements. It’s one of the more modern designs created by a host country or city for the Winter Games.
The Vancouver 2010 emblem divided opinions in the design landscape. On the one hand, it’s a relatively simplistic design, made up of block shapes and basic colors. On the other, the abstract geometric logo tells us a lot about the host city and its history.
The stylized person in the logo is meant to represent a multi-colored inuksuk, a stone landmark built by the Inuit tribe in the Canadian Arctic. Though the depiction isn’t a perfect representation of the landmark, it’s friendly, concise, and easy to recognize.
The vibrant colors and playfulness of the rounded shape make this logo instantly appealing to a global audience.
Created by Miroslav Antonic, the Sarajevo Winter Olympics emblem features a stylized snowflake meant to represent traditional patterns used in the embroidery of the region.
While the bright orange coloring might not be particularly wintery in essence, the logo is warm and friendly, with a powerful modern vibe.
The stylized snowflake is simple and modern, made up of block shapes. On closer inspection, each section of the snowflake appears to look a little like a person throwing their arms up in joy. This could be part of the designer’s strategy to convey the spirit of the games in the logo.
Lake Placid, 1980
Another relatively minimalistic design for the Winter Games, the Lake Placid logo aims to convey a number of messages with simple shapes and lines. The chevrons on the right-hand side represent the mountains of the Olympic region.
These components join with the vertical lines running throughout the design, recalling the predeceasing hosts of the games.
Interestingly, the two curved elements beneath the Olympic Rings in this logo are designed to draw attention to the fact that the city previously held the games earlier in its history, in 1932.
Though simple, the design is soothing, patriotic, and athletic.
Beijing, Winter Olympics 2022
One of the most recent additions to the Olympics Game logos created at the time of writing, the Beijing logo, was designed by artist Lin Cunzhen. It’s intended to highlight traditional and modern elements of Chinese culture.
The image was inspired by the Chinese character 冬, which stands for “winter.” However, the emblem also resembles a person skiing.
The flowing ribbon-like motif highlights unity and innovation. It also points to the fact that the games in the country coincided with the Chinese New Year.
The use of blue is intended to symbolize the purity of ice and snow, dreams, and the future. While the red and yellow colors of the China national flag symbolize youth, vitality, and passion.
Milano Cortina, 2026
The Milano Cortina Winter Games emblem is the first logo in history to be designed solely on the opinions of the local people. Citizens cast almost 900,000 votes to choose between two short-listed designs, and around 75% chose the emblem shown above.
The simplistic logo features a stylized “26” for the year of the games.
The fact that a single, bold line is used to connect the two numbers in the logo symbolizes the city’s commitment to legacy, sustainability, and innovation. Although this might not be one of the most creative logos of all time, the clean and crisp design works well for the modern age.
The worst Winter Olympics logos
Now we’ve seen some of the best examples of design throughout the history of Olympic logos, it’s time to take a closer look at some of the less impressive options.
While virtually every Olympic host city aims to convey meaning and culture in its emblem, not every design has effectively captured the hearts and minds of viewers over the years.
Once again, our choice of the worst Winter Olympic logos comes from our own personal opinions. Many of the logos below do have their own redeeming qualities, but we feel they simply don’t convey the spirit of the games in the same way as other designs.
Lake Placid, 1932
At a glance, the Lake Placid logo for the Winter Olympics in 1932 does have a lot of positive qualities. The outline of the state in the background draws attention to the host city. The design of the person placed on top of the circular emblem is sleek and sophisticated.
However, we feel the artist, Witold Gordon, may have done more to harness the spirit of the city.
Perhaps the most unattractive aspect of this emblem is its typeface. The letters in the design look confusing and poorly placed, making them appear as though they’re jumping around on the screen.
It might be a fun look for some use cases, but it doesn’t really highlight the power of the games.
The logo produced for the Winter Olympics in 1936 does draw attention to a snowy landscape, making us think of winter sports. It’s also worth noting the mountain in the design is based on the summit of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Alps.
However, this relatively simplistic logo just doesn’t say much about the history or heritage of the host country or city.
There’s very little impact in this logo beyond the contrast between the white mountains and the blue sky. It’s not a bad design in general, but it doesn’t seem like the best way for the region to capture the attention of a wider audience in the Olympic Games.
This logo certainly represents the graphic design and artistic trends of France at the time when it was created. However, there are various aspects of this logo that don’t really send the right message. The rising sun is a little unusual in style, with its stern, human face.
The sheer length of the logo also means it wouldn’t necessarily stand the test of time today. The complex design wouldn’t really work well in a variety of different mediums. The variety of different fonts used in the emblem is a little overwhelming too.
Squaw Valley, 1960
This abstract Winter Olympics logo is made up of three triangles, depicted in a variety of colors. The official emblem featured the colors red, white, and blue to symbolize the American flag. However, various additional color palettes were also produced to symbolize unity and diversity.
Though abstract logos can often work well for the Olympic games, this particular design is a little too simplistic to be truly impactful. The Olympic emblem really doesn’t tell us anything about the history or culture of the region, and it doesn’t have any truly memorable components.
Opinions are often divided over the Innsbruck emblem. On the surface, it’s a relatively good example of a simplistic, modern logo. However, it really doesn’t say much about the power or spirit of the games.
Apparently, the logo and poster for the Olympic Games this year were produced by a series of 12 artists, which makes it all the more unusual that they came up with such a basic design.
We’d struggle to see how this particular design would inspire a big buzz among audiences. It also doesn’t really send any messages about the values of the games, such as unity and diversity.
Speaking of uninspiring logos, the Sapporo 1972 Olympic emblem doesn’t have a lot going for it either. The emblem features input from 8 of Japan’s top designers. However, it seems relatively basic and boring at a glance.
The snowflake, though intended to represent a coat of arms from an ancient Japanese family, looks hastily constructed.
The rising sun, the symbol of Japan, seems like an obvious choice and holds no real meaning for the host city itself. Aside from drawing attention to the national flag, this logo doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose.
Often, when a city gets an opportunity to host the Olympic games for a second or third time, they use it as a chance to redesign its logo and enhance its visual identity. However, Innsbruck used almost the exact same logo as the previous games.
The emblem represents the coat of arms from the city, and the bridge aims to symbolize the link between the people competing in the games. However, once again, this emblem really just isn’t that impactful.
We think Innsbruck missed an opportunity here.
Designed by an Italian studio, the logo for the 2006 Olympics was inspired by a major landmark monument in Italy, Turin’s Mole Antonelliana. The emblem is intended to highlight the silhouette of the monument in abstract shapes and lines.
However, it’s difficult to determine whether this logo is really effective or not.
While some people like the modernity and simplicity of the design, others feel it looks more like a poster for a technology convention than the Olympic Games.
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics emblem was the first logo to feature absolutely no graphical elements or images. It features an internet address next to the Olympic logos. According to the designers, the emblem was supposed to highlight the city’s commitment to innovation.
Unfortunately, it really just seems like a boring, uninspired logo. There’s nothing particularly compelling or memorable about it at all. We think this is one of the most disappointing examples of a bad design for the Olympics.
If you research the meaning of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics logo, you’ll discover it actually has a number of hidden messages.
The logo stems from the first consonants of each symbol in the word PyeongChang written in Hangul. The first character also represents a gathering place where humanity, earth, and heaven are in harmony.
The star shape symbolizes snow and ice, as well as the stellar performances of the athletes. However, none of this meaning really shows through clearly in the emblem itself.
Amazing Winter Olympic logos throughout the decades
Since the games launched so many years ago, the various Winter Olympic logos produced over the decades have given host cities a phenomenal opportunity to experiment with design.
Everything from the color scheme to the imagery chosen in each emblem plays a part in sending a crucial message to a global audience. Of course, some countries have been more successful with their logo designs than others.
While some of the best Winter Olympic logos highlight the host city’s history and culture, others have fallen flat, failing to convey any real meaning.
If you need help ensuring your iconic logo can capture the proper attention, contact Fabrik Brands today to see how we can help you design an emblem that deserves a gold medal.
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