Ultimate Olympic branding project makes global design history

For the first time in history, all logos, identity elements and mascots of past Olympic Games are to made available to international licensees.

Olympics fans worldwide can expect stunning, retro ranges of products and merchandise that play to the nostalgia of consumers from the likes of Nike, Adidas, Lacoste and Ralph Lauren, when the Olympic Heritage Collection launches in 2016.

Olympic Heritage Collection

he Olympic Heritage Collection will launch in select countries over the next year

Why is this so amazing? Prior to the 1990s, most design elements created for the Olympics weren't digitized, with many identity systems used inconsistently during the Games.

To turn all design elements into high-quality digital assets, Vancouver-based design firm Hulse&Durrell travelled to archives and private collections around the world - examining over 25,000 Olympic artifacts to find their most authentic sources.

Olympic Heritage Collection assets

Hulse&Durrell researched emblems, pictograms, mascots and official posters

Where possible, emblems, mascots and pictograms were then re-created from scratch with the original techniques of their time.

Even logo files for something like Beijing 2008 were corrected to place the trademark symbol in the proper place, reports Under Consideration's Armin Vit.

"Design manuals originally intended for use with protractors, compasses and paintbrushes became blueprints once again — this time with a digital toolset in mind," say Hulse&Durrell.

It's a vast project of staggering depth, which overwhelms the new identity for the Olympic Heritage Collection itself, also designed by Hulse&Durrell.

Olympic Heritage Collection identity

The Olympic Heritage Collection logo

Featuring Akzidenz-Grotes – a typeface released in 1896, the same year the modern Olympics Games began – the logo is simple and classic, with gold symbolising the legacy of the Olympics.

We can't wait to see next year's licensed products. If they're anything like the Photoshop mockups, we're in for a treat.

For more images and information on the project, head over to the Hulse&Durrell website.

Olympic Heritage Collection

Physical artifacts were referenced against the modern Pantone colour matching system to ensure tonal authenticity

Olympic Heritage Collection

Hulse&Durrell performed a form of forensic branding, before developing style guidelines to support diverse, multilingual design teams

Olympic Heritage Collection

Stationery will be available

Olympic Heritage Collection

Licencees can use the assets to create throwback products and merchandise

Olympic Heritage Collection

An umbrella mock-up

Olympic Heritage Collection

Even footwear will get the Olympic Games treatment

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Julia Sagar
Editor-in-chief retail

Julia is editor-in-chief, retail at Future Ltd, where she works in e-commerce across a number of consumer lifestyle brands. A former editor of design website Creative Bloq, she’s also worked on a variety of print titles, and was part of the team that launched consumer tech website TechRadar. She's been writing about art, design and technology for over 15 years.