Established in 1988 when it won (aka ponied up the money) to the rights to show the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, NBC Olympics is the sole and official holder of broadcast rights in the U.S. to all Summer and Winter Games through the year 2032. As demand for Olympics coverage has increased, NBC has been broadcasting Olympic events across its NBCUniversal network, from the flagship NBC channel to Telemundo to CNBC and MSNBC. With the attention already shifting to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, NBC has introduced its 2016 broadcast logo designed by New York, NY-based Trollbäck+Company.
Initially, I considered putting this project on Noted but after I searched for the NBC Olympics broadcast logo for the London 2012 Games I thought there was an interesting story to tell here about the significance of the NBC logo(s) to the watching experience of the event. If you are in the U.S., you are going to be seeing NBC’s logo as much as or if not more than the actual Olympic logo. You’ll see it before and after commercial breaks — and lord, are there commercial breaks during the broadcast — as a bug on screen between commercials and at the beginning and end of any video you watch online. That’s an Olympic serving of brand impressions.
What’s also interesting here is the progression in sophistication of the logos, going from a bare effort in Sydney to trying too hard in London to something much more thoughtful and considerate for Rio, that finally foregoes a landmark and that feels specifically built for screen use.
The NBC Olympics Logo is one of the most powerful visual symbols in sports. With a distribution over many platforms and a lifespan beyond the Games themselves. It makes its’ mark by successfully combining several crucial elements: Energy, Grandeur, Inspiration and Motion.
This logo uses four different color elements in motion under the typography, constantly creating new shapes and combinations. This portrays: the fluid movement of sport, the constant energy of the Games, the immediacy of the events, the unpredictability of competition, the shapes echo the Rio landscape and topography (Sugarloaf, mountains) and the bright colors of Rio itself.
As to the logo itself… Without relying on a landmark, which would have been the easy route for NBC to approve, the logo uses the typical colors for Brazil — yellow, blue, and green — to create these bubbly shapes that shift and rotate, dancing a conservative samba on screen. (Check the video on NBC Olympics’ home page for a sample use — not sure if our international readers will be blacked out). The “Rio” lettering feels tropical and fun but I think the extremely geometric and circular approach clashes with the more organic shapes behind it. If you look at the color variations image, it works best without the shapes, looking almost like a fancy tropical bird. Another small interesting bit is that they do not use the word “NBC” at all in the logo, which I imagine was cause for huge discussion and deserves an acknowledgment, since it keeps the logo cleaner than previous versions. Overall, this feels right on cue for the event and will hopefully serve as a standard for future NBC broadcast logos to be interesting, engaging, and moving past basic landmark concepts.