Rio 2016 bid logo

Rio’s 2016 bid logo, official until further notice

So yea, I’m a little behind in covering the massive story about the Olympics of 2016, which are officially headed to Rio. The Olympics are a recurring theme on this blog, as I have taken particular interest in the London 2012 logo, and the mascots of Beijing, and Vancouver.

There’s a lot of political sniping to be done. We could debate the merits of Rio as a host city, and sending the games to South America for the first time. Plus there’s the whole aspect of how to deal with such a shiny, expensive event in a city known for massive slums and drugs and crime, including the kidnapping of tourists. But let’s skip that for now.

What I’m concerned with is the graphics! The Olympics are a global spectacle, and all eyes are pointed at screens to see the world’s athletic competitions draped in the lusty visuals of the host nation’s disposable branding effort. China set the bar rather high for it’s consistency and style, referencing national trends and history but also appealing to the world at large whilst managing not to look like a souvenir stand. Is Brasil up to the challenge?

A quick glance at the official site shows the national colours used in a subtle but pleasant manner. Inoffensive, but otherwise unnotable. While we’ve seen Brasil hoist the World Cup [of Football] numerous times, and the ensuing hordes of supporters clad in flags and jerseys, Brasil hasn’t done a tremendous job of showing the world it’s design DNA. What is Brasilian design?

Putting aside my PhD thesis for a moment, I’m genuinely interested. Brasil is a huge country and one of the fastest-growing internet-using populations on the planet, so why have we seen so little of their design work? There’s a language barrier, to a certain extent, but I do come across French or Japanese or other foreign examples of excellent design work on the web. Where you at, Brasil? If I close my eyes and picture my associations with Brasilian design, I see screen printed t-shirts and hand-lettered signage — but that’s common to the entirety of the new world and caribbean. What am I missing?


This promotional video does well to paint Rio as a fun destination for the sporty vacationer, but is strangely naked of all motion graphics and branding. It could very well be an advert for beer, or more likely, tourism.

It seems that much like China’s hosting the games in 2008, Brasil’s hosting will be seem almost as a coming out party, welcoming the world to 21st Century Brasil, and opening the doors of global commerce and tourism. And design. Obviously, tourism is presently a massive industry in Brasil, but Rio is hoping the Olympics change the status of the city on the world’s stage. The model they’re hoping to follow is that of Barcelona, which held the games back in 1992, and even Sydney, which hosted in 2000. Those cities are now well-known to everyone, from teenage backpackers to global bankers.

Will Rio be the next design hub? The next business center? Athletics destination? I, for one, will watch with great interest.

Brasilian Volleyball
… and for no reason at all, here’s a photo of Brasil’s women’s beach volleyball team.

* Note: for this post, and going forward, I’m going to use the Latin spelling of Brasil (with an S) simply because it’s easier for me to type. In English, it’s supposed to be spelled with a Z, even in England, but this is my blog, so I’ll create my own style guides. As long as I’m consistent, please leave me alone. kthanxbai.