Learning from London’s Mistakes, Rio Designs ‘Fast and Fluid’ Font for 2016 Games

The London Olympics raised eyebrows and graphic designers’ hackles with its craggy, hot pink, seizure-inducing logo monstrosity, more evocative of Jem and the Holograms than global togetherness. Rio is eschewing the truly outrageous route with a smooth and snappy visual identity helmed by Beth Lula, branding director of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee. The colorful, undulating Rio 2016 Olympic logo (see video below), unveiled last year, was created by Rio design agency Tátil to communicate “passion and transformation,” and in turn inspired a custom typeface. Recently unveiled in London, Rio 2016 (pictured) is the work of font foundry Dalton Maag‘s Brazilian team working with consultants such as homegrown type whiz Gustavo Soares.

Fabio Haag, creative director of Dalton Maag Brazil, led a team through 23 studies—and 5,448 different characters—in the course of the eight-month design project. The original concept was to develop the font based on the lettering of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic brands, using only three letters and four figures. “To design a complete font based on a few letters in a logo with a single letter combination was very challenging,” said Haag in a statement issued by the organizing committee. Tasked with capturing in a font the gestural energy and expressiveness of the Rio 2016 logo, the team experimented with handwriting and ended up with letters that are written in single continuous strokes, with fast and fluid motions, suggesting the movements of the athletes in action. According to the organizing committee, “The variety of the curves in the different letters has a unique informality, inspired by the joyfulness of the Brazilian people.”