Design Debate: Tokyo's 2020 Olympic Logo

This week the official logo for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was unveiled. Designed by graphic artist Kenjiro Sano, the logo is a celebration of Japanese culture and a symbol of togetherness. As a symbol of the most significant global event in the calendar, the design has quickly garnered attention and sparked debate in the design community. tokyo olympics 2020 For our part, we're advocates and believe it is a strong, clean identity that succeeds as an emblematic celebration for both the Olympics and Japan. The design makes powerful use of the red circle making connections to the rising sun on Japan’s flag, the Olympic rings, and the world. The negative space elegantly transforms when used in the Paralympics logo into an equal sign, the universal symbol of acceptance. It would have been easy to overcook the red circle idea, but here it feels fresh. It is cleverly incorporated into the design to create the serifs and the holding shape of the T, further reinforcing the Team, Tomorrow, Tokyo idea. The red circle also has a sensory effect, alluding to the sound of the O’s in Tokyo.

tokyo olympic logos

The logo plays to a fine art sensibility, using abstract and minimalistic techniques that reflect a Japanese aesthetic. The design also harkens back to Tokyo’s 1964 Olympic logo, offering a small homage to tradition while being forward-facing. The logo also comes equipped with an animation, which breathes life into all of the elements of the seemingly static mark.


While critics feel the logo is too corporate and perhaps inaccessible to the general public, we see its dignified simplicity as a success. It builds a bridge between tradition and innovation, a fusion between East and West. Plus it's a sophisticated shift change from the colourfully exuberant logos we've had in the past few Olympics years.

olympic logos

Seeing as how 2020 is five years away, we imagine a little controversy and debate to keep our eyes on Tokyo has been welcomed. What do you think of the new logo? Comment below or tweet us your thoughts @bluemarlin.

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