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What Event Managers Can Learn From The Olympic Brand

We’re in the midst of arguably one of the biggest global events, the Olympics. The modern games as we know them today started in 1896, that’s 120 years running (excuse the pun)! Aside from the purpose of the event, there’s something that has stayed constant since early on the in the history of the Olympics – it’s the Olympic brand.

Olymic brand markt: Olympic rings

The primary Olympic brand mark – the Olympic Rings

So what can events managers learn from the Olympics? It turns out a lot when it comes to building a lasting event brand. Let’s look at this a little deeper.

Visual identity

To begin, let’s look at the visual identity of the Olympics. The rings are synonymous with the games and if we see them, we know it means the Olympics – the ring are the Olympic primary brand mark.

Like any well thought out visual identity, the rings carry meaning. Each ring represents one of the five continents of the world and each of the five colours is represented in every competing countries flag (at the time of design in 1914).

A full Olympic logo always consists of the primary brand mark (the rings), the localised brand mark, the host city and the year.

Olympic Brand: Rio olympic logo

Every year the Olympics is held, the Olympic brand incorporates localisation.

Related link: 45 Olympic logos and symbols from 1924-2022

Does your event have a primary brand mark that it carries year in and year out like the Olympic brand?

Olympic brand recognition

When we see the five linked rings in colour or in black and while, there’s no question about it, the symbol represents the Olympics and we can quickly recall this. This is very powerful considering the Olympic games are only hosted every four years and we don’t hear about them much at all between games. Nevertheless, we don’t forget.

Incorporating a primary brand mark into your event branding each year helps create brand recognition and separates your event from all the noise in the event space.

Brand reputation

We know that a brand isn’t just about a logo, it carries values and meaning, feelings and reputation associated with it. Brand reputation is very important. When people see your event brand, you want them to feel that it’s a quality event, with high quality speakers and that they will walk away having had an extremely positive experience.

Related link: What is branding (video)

Despite all the bad publicity surrounding the Rio games, the feeling of excitement, fun and unity still stands with the Olympic brand. We trust that the games will continue and the committee and event managers will deliver quality and fair games for both spectators and Olympians.

It takes time and effort to gain your audience’s trust and build strong brand reputation. It is never too late make this a marketing focus for your events – the payoff is powerful!


With the Olympic brand reputation in tact, we know that we can rely on the Olympics. We know that every four years we will witness the top Olympians in the world compete for the top spots. We never doubt that the games won’t go ahead, even at times when it seems the host city isn’t ready. Only three times in history the games haven’t gone ahead – during the First and Second World War).

Every four years, different country hosts the Olympics, with new sports added and new and old Olympians competing, but we know it’s the same games.

Your attendees should feel exactly the same about your event. They know how often it runs and what to expect, it should feel familiar to them, something that they look forward to and want to take part in each year.

Keep it fresh and relevant

A fresh approach to branding each year that reflects your themes or perhaps the location of your event, keeps the brand fresh and relevant. The benefit of creating a lasting primary brand for your event is that you’re able to keep your brand fresh each year, whilst holding onto brand recognition and reputation that you’ve worked so hard to build over time.

Every Olympics, the rings are used in the branding. The decision by the original Olympic committee to only have the rings as the brand identity and updated the year and city each time would have made things much easier and saved a lot of money, but as we mentioned above, this doesn’t help to keep the brand fresh and relevant.

In the case of the Olympics, refreshing the brand each time allows a strong sense of ownership to the host city, it gives them the opportunity to create a brand identity that tells the story of its culture and what Olympics means to them.

Related link: Rio 2016 Visual Identity & Creating the Rio 2016 Mascot and Logo

It doesn’t matter how often your event runs or if it’s a conference or workshop, building brand recognition and reputation using a primary brand mark will strengthen your overall brand and help build a lasting event brand.

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