Design critique of the Chicago 2016 Olympics logo

Mayor Daley and Chicago unveiled their logo for the bid to have Chicago host the 2016 Summer Olympic games. VSA Partners’ Chicago office designed the logo. Here’s my critique of the logo:


It’s said that the skyline seen in the olympic flame represents how Chicago rose out of the ashes of a fire. That’s really cool. They did a very fine job of making it look like a flame first, and our skyline second. When I first saw this logo, I totally thought it was a flame, and THEN I saw our skyline. Great effect. However, does it disturb anyone that when you really look at this flame and the building that it’s kinda ghost-like? Or that our city is make of flames? Ah well, you can’t be that literal with it, because it’s got a fantastic metaphor about our city’s history.


The blue and green in the handle are supposed represent the lake and green parks. That is one thing that people around the world should remember about chicago–our fantastic unencumbered lakeshore. It was a great part of Daniel Burnham’s Plan of Chicago in 1909. in Personally, I think the green really represents how sustainable chicago is).

Pencil marks

The entire logo is composed of pencil-like sketch marks, which show action and energy. It also shows the real grit of Chicago. We’re not some slick city. We play it real. However, the sketchy style is reminiscent of many logos from the 1980s, but hey, this is the logo for an event 10 years from now, maybe that sort of style will come back around and be back in by then.

Actually, I wouldn’t mind this style coming back in, because it would really help erik’s and my pencil rubbing cause.


I’m not sure what the font is. My first guesses were Avenir, Frutiger, and Vectora; however, they aren’t quite it. If anyone knows the name of the font used, please leave the font name in the comments below. At any rate, it’s a nice clean font. I’m thankful that the font Optima (found in parts of the CTA underground stations) was not used here.


It appears that this logo is a raster file, but lately i’ve been amazed by some of the effects vector art has been able to achieve. Maybe this was created with individual vector lines, which would have helped them fine tune the exact look of the logo.


Chicago is the city that works. We have a Mayor that totally gets things done. This IS our time. It’s time to live that same Chicago pride that SHOCKED THE WORLD with the 1893 World’s Fair. Daniel Burnham the legendary city planner said a century ago, “Make no small plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood.” That IS Chicago. We have the vision. We have the blood. We have the sweat. We should have the Olympics.

This is a fine logo that should make the city of Chicago proud. Many years from now we will look back on this logo with happy nostalgia. This fire will continue onward to the future to ignite the Olympic games in the Windy City.

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Tom Saaristo
17 years ago

I was hoping to get your critique of the logo when I emailed the story to you, but it looks like you were one step ahead of me! Nice work!

17 years ago

Great blog post, spud. You nailed everything. This logo is simply fantastic on so many levels. I am very proud to be a Chicagoan (transplanted in the burbs.) The logo is symbolic on many levels and it is very striking. Great, great work. GO CHICAGO!

17 years ago

The symbol is great after all it doesn’t have to do a hard job to sell. If Chicago ain’t a great city I’ll eat my hat. I am just not sure about us having the olympics. It so expensive and the rewards might not cover the expense.

17 years ago

do you think we’ll get a 5th star on our flag if we host the olympics? the olympics are star-worthy, right? and yes, the logo rocks.

17 years ago

I’m onboard to add a 5th star to the chicago flag (if we get the olympics). That’d be great! Here’s a site that has a neat explanation of what the stars mean. Just roll over the stars! And don’t forget to roll over the blue stripes as well. If you’re too lazy to check out the site, here’s a quick run down: stars: Fort Dearborn, Chicago Fire, The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, Century of Progress Exposition of 1933. stripes: Lake Michigan and North Branch of Chicago River, South Branch of the Chicago River and Great Canal

17 years ago

oh i forgot. The points on each star has symbolism as well. Just to that loosetooth site and check it out.

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