Tokyo 1964 Olympics: A Design Moment
When I was invited me to the Tokyo 1964: Designing Tomorrow Olympics exhibition at Japan House, I didn’t know what to expect. 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 until I was halfway round the exhibition), is the monumental importance of the Tokyo 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 the most recognisable logo of any Olympics in history, a red 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. Images transcend language and can communicate messages without words.
The most comprehensive brand guide to date was produced for Tokyo 1964 which mandated consistent use of colours, logo, uniformity of typography and Helvetica font.
The most striking and memorable logo ever designed for a Games is the one designed by Kamekura for Tokyo. A block red circle on a white background – simple and powerful, representative, 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 companies don’t have brand guidelines. But marketing is about values (Steve Jobs not me!). Brand guidelines define how a brand communicates with an audience / messages by representing its values through colour, images, shapes and words.
Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games exhibition at Japan House was fascinating and exciting.
If you’d like to discuss brand guidelines or communicating your values to a wider audience please contact me at vanessadb_at_adlumin.co.uk.