München 1972 Olympics, Otl Aicher

Munich 1972; Arguably the most iconic visual presence the Olympic Games has ever gilded.

Approached in 1966 by the Olympic Committee. Otl Aicher would craft an identity system that would later be an inspiration for future designers of the Games and other creatives alike.

The universal application of a strict grid system is the backbone of the identity. The adoption of the Swiss/International style is more than apparent, the mantle of ‘Less is More’ can be seen in every facet of the identity. This doesn’t however create stale pieces of communication, rather the opposite - dynamic pictograms, beautifully applied typography & graceful layout compositions. It was most importantly however a perfect example of legible information that is universally approachable in a multi-cultural event such as the Olympic Games.

Aichers’ pictograms have had a profound influence on the Olympics & were re-used in the 1976 Montreal Games (although it’s worth noting they were not the first pictograms to be have been used in the Games). This fabled iconographic system is the perfect example of the strict grid system, using conformity to create powerful, legible icons that break the barriers of language. Doing more with less, these icons later laid the foundations of inspiration for the United States Department of Transportation pictograms in 1974.

No detail was spared in the creative process, even the vibrant pallette of colours used in the identity were inspired by the Bavarian countryside. For a designer like myself it’s this attention to detail that I find inspiring.

The sheer influence this identity system has had on the Olympic games since, and within the creative arts, juxtaposed against the exemplary implementation of grid systems & typography is why it is one of my favourite representations of visual identity systems. A fundamental example of pioneering graphic design. It even brought us the first official Olympic mascot, Waldi the daschshund.