Recently, the Tokyo Olympic committee withdrew their logo for the 2020 games.
Tokyo 2020 has withdrawn its emblems. We will provide info about the new emblems as soon as it is available. #Tokyo2020
— Tokyo 2020 (@Tokyo2020) September 1, 2015
In a flurry of media interpretation and opinion about whether the emblem was plagiarised or not, and the designer facing allegations on other designs being copied, Tokyo decided to enforce the change to avoid legal concerns with Theatre De Liege (who had rebranded in 2013).
Is This Brand Unique?
The logo itself may not be striking, unusual, or original in it’s concept, but the treatment is elegant and, as a pair of brands matched with the Paralympics logo, it is a well executed, considered approach with clever use of negative space.
The deconstruction of type forms is not a revolutionary new tool in the development of a brand. It’s a relatively simple way of creating a pictogram-style logo that connotes additional meaning through initials, acronym or monogram. Basically, it’s been around for a long time and no particular culture can lay claim to the concept.
An alphabet is basically a collection of hyper-recognisable symbols, ripe for the abuse of graphic designers. Both of the below logos represent organisations that start with the letter T. It’s a pretty basic shape, no getting away from that.
Theatre De Liege heads down the initials pathway, creating what’s essentially a ligature (type-nerd terminology) of a T and an L. The Tokyo logo is different. It has the minimalist visual approach the Japanese are masters of, paired with layers of implied and cultural meaning.
It’s an initial, a picture and a national symbol. It makes sense to wildly varied audiences. It represents Japan. It is simple and appropriate.
Google Understanding Images
Part of the claim from the designer of the Theatre logo is that this design has been online in multiple locations on the internet for a number of years and as such should be highly visible. At this point, if it has been plagiarised is still being debated, as there have been reports that there was online checking of the logo before it was revealed to ensure against this exact situation. There is also the factor that when you work within a particular design framework, coincidences can occur.
Unfortunately, even though the image has been around for a reasonable amount of time, it’s not actually that easy to find. The image itself has not been optimised through use of alt tags on the Theatre website, which should be the main source of information about what this image is, and as such Google and other image search engines don’t quite understand what it is.
Help Increase Online Visibility of Your Brand
If your company logo is an integral part of your Brand (and it should be) adding online optimisation to your design elements in an important part of recognition and visibility for your company. Google and other search engines are still limited in their understanding of images, and require assistance to know what they are looking at.
This is achieved through making appropriate use of image alt tags and labelling the logos and other images on your website.
Sometimes it is a simple case of labelling them with “yourcompanyname-logo”, or you can be a little more creative and use “yourcompanyname-brand/design/image” or other appropriate terms to describe to the search engine robots what it is they are looking at.
Google introduced image search in 2001 with a reference database of 250 million images, and this has grown to billions today. With people tagging images on their websites, the search engine can understand what many elements are without being told, but if it is something new, or unique, or pertaining to one company… it still needs help defining them.
The Bonus for Your Website
When optimising your website for organic search rankings, image alt tags are currently still considered a ranking factor in search engine results.
This means that as a part of your website optimisation, if you tag your images with terms that are matching to your focus keywords, as well as to your brand and company information, this will help your website as a whole be recognised for those searches, bringing you higher in organic search engine rankings.
When you have one part of your website stronger in search engine rankings, this has a positive impact on your whole website, giving it extra strength and visibility.
If the Theatre had made greater use of alt tags on their site, would their logo have been found earlier and the plagiarism issue been avoided? We honestly will never know, but someone doing Google searching would have been able to find them more easily, and that should be the aim for any website.