Check Out The New Olympic Pictograms

One year ago we saw the curvy logo for the Rio 2016 games. Today, we get the rest of the graphic identity.

We still have two years and some change before the athletic elite descend upon Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic games, but preparations are, of course, already well underway. Along with stadiums and pools and dizzying changes to the city’s infrastructure, there’s also a brand new graphic identity.


Last October, the London and Brazil-based design house Dalton Maag revealed the brushstroke-and-ink laden logo for the Rio 2016 games. Today, with Maag’s loopy script as a template, the organizing committee unveiled the individual pictograms for each game in the Olympic and Paralympic sports.

The pictograms are as much a part of Olympic tradition as the grandeur of the opening ceremonies. Like the ceremonies, they change dramatically every year, in honor of the hosting city. Maag created a graphic identity that mirrors the visual iconography found in Rio de Janeiro–like a letter T that gets its posture from the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

A press release (translated from Portuguese) describes how the in-house team adapted that language:

The bod[ies] of the athletes and sports equipment were constructed from the character or part of them, in a continuous line, with thickness variations to give the idea of depth. The pebbles, which are a feature of the visual language of 2016, support the designs and alter its shape according to the different movements of athletes.

The “pebbles” (or guitar picks, if you see what I see) encase each sport, including for the first time each and every sport from both Olympic and Paralympic games. Maag’s original strokes used closed kerning, to make the logo more economical for its many uses, but the tight, fluid forms also allow the exaggerated roundness of the human forms and the pebbles to blend seamlessly into the circular shapes of wheelchairs–letting the identity of the Olympic games and Paralympic games sit in harmony.

See the full set of pictograms here.

About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.