No two uniforms alike!
First off, let me say how much I love the Olympics—I love the national spirit it induces, I love the competition, I love watching athletics at their purest form. However, a few weeks ago, while catching highlights of the 2012 Summer Games in London, I noticed something that I did NOT like about these Olympics (shocking, I know), and specifically, about the American athletic apparel: There was no consistency in their uniform design.
As a designer, I found myself watching more of the events just to see if my observations held true. Sadly, they did.
Diving, swimming, gymnastics, track & field, volleyball (beach and indoor), soccer – none of these teams shared a consistent logo, color, pattern or anything else on their uniforms. How could this be? How could the “United” States of America have no unifying brand mark? Okay, so two sports had semi-similar uniforms: men’s track & field and men’s basketball. Their jersey logos seemed to reflect the same font, only laid out in different directions (see below top right photo and above top right photo).
Just three little letters marching to the beat of their own drum
“USA” was used in about eight different fonts and arrangements. Sometimes red was the dominant uniform color, sometimes blue (which ranged from navy to royal) and sometimes white. While I understand that different sports are sponsored by different companies (e.g., Speedo for swimming, Adidas for gymnastics), these companies still receive artwork for their apparel. And our dear old flag—well, Betsy Ross might have been upset to see that it was not used nearly as often as she might have thought.
I find it hard to believe that there are no brand guidelines for Team USA. I’m not arguing that each sport’s uniform should’ve been a carbon copy of another, but there could’ve been at least a suite of apparel designs to choose from. Sure, we’re “the land of the free” but free should not imply “do whatever the heck you want with your uniform, just make our country proud.” Am I crazy to think that we can unite these United States? Has the Olympics Committee tried to no avail? Or am I just a designer at a brand agency who craves a semblance of consistency?
I’d like to think that I’m not just moderately nuts, and that by the time the Winter Games roll around in 2014, I’ll be seeing some consistent branding across Team USA’s uniforms, speed skaters and downhill skiers alike.
But I won’t be holding my breath.