Tokyo 1964 Olympics: A Design Moment
When my friend invited me to the Tokyo 1964: Designing Tomorrow Olympics exhibition at Japan House, I was initially baffled.. I’m not an Olympics or Japan fanatic, & it seemed the only reason was proximity – Kensington is just around the corner & it was a good excuse to go to favourite Japanese, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi Kings Road. It was a lovely summer evening as we cycled around SW and I couldn’t have been more happy to go in the end..
What I didn’t realise in the beginning (or indeed until I was halfway round the exhibition), is the monumental importance of these games from a design perspective. It was the first time pictograms were ever used (icons to represent meanings), the first time a brand guide was created to define a cohesive identity, and had the most recognisable logo of any Olympics in history, a simply coloured circle on a white background.
Kamekura Yusaku, a little-known Bauhaus / modernist designer changed the course of graphic design forever! Yusaku was selected to create the identity for the games.
Tokyo 64 Games was the first time pictograms had been used at the Olympics to communicate to a multi lingual audience from different backgrounds, without language.
The most comprehensive brand guide to date was produced for Tokyo 1964 which mandated consistent use of colours, the logo, uniformity of typography and the Helvetica font.
The most striking and memorable logo ever designed for a Games in my opinion is that designed by Kamekura for Tokyo. A huge block colour red circle on a white background – simple and powerful, representative, almost an image of the flag itself!
“The design of these Games influenced every international sporting tournament since, from the pictograms to the idea of a brand.”
Many of my clients don’t have brand guidelines when I start working with them. All my clients know my mantra, marketing is about values (Steve Jobs not me!) – brand guidelines defines how a brand communicates with an audience by representing its values through colour, images, shapes and words.
Far from being of little interest, Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games exhibition at Japan House is extraordinary, fascinating and exciting. It’s on until 7 November, is free and you can book here.
If you’d like to discuss your brand guidelines or communicating with current / prospective customers please contact me at vanessadb_at_adlumin.co.uk.