How to brand an Olympic bid

Developing a bid identity means digging deep and uncovering something special, reveals Ryan Adair at Bruce Mau Design.

The first step in the long and complex process of branding an Olympic event begins with the city bid, in which municipalities across the globe compete to become the host of a future Games. These bids have their own logo design and branding identity, which – warns Ryan Adair, creative director at multidisciplinary design firm Bruce Mau Design – shouldn't be confused with the final Games identity itself.

"Once the city wins the bid, there'll often be a 'reset'," he explains. "So the agencies involved in the bid branding won't necessarily be chosen to work on the main Games identity, which may end up being something quite different."

Bruce Mau Design has been working with 72andSunny on branding LA's 2024 bid for the Games, for which it's currently competing with Rome, Paris and Budapest.

How to brand an Olympic bid

Bruce Mau Design created LA 2024's brand identity with 72andSunny

And while the branding of the Games themselves are normally centred around sport and national identity, Adair points out that bid branding tends to be far more focused on the qualities of the city and region.

"With our branding for LA's bid, for example, we wanted to move away from the clichés associated with the city, such as the focus on Hollywood, and focus on an upbeat, positive message," he reveals. "We wanted to talk about everything else Los Angeles has to offer; how inclusive, optimistic and cosmopolitan it is; how it's constantly reinventing itself."

The central logo, designed by full-service advertising company 72andSunny, features an angel in homage to the original Spanish origin of the name 'Los Angeles'. Its colour scheme represents the rays of the sun that constantly bathe the Californian coastal city.

How to brand an Olympic bid

LA 2024's brand guidelines leave absolutely nothing to chance

Since the identity was launched in February 2016, Bruce Mau Design has been acting as brand guardian for the bid, ensuring that everything from official documentation to the campaign video (also created by 72andSunny) has a consistent look and feel.

The project has been close to Adair's heart: "Wherever you are in the world, I think people have a pride for their area, its history, customs and traditions," he argues.

"Branding a location in this way is all about drawing out what's unique about a place, and combining that with people's love and passion for it. And that's exactly what we've aimed to do with our Olympic bid identity."

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 254; buy it now!


Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.