Design as an Olympic Ambassador

How do you communicate something effectively and concisely to people who don’t share a common language?

Don’t rely on language.

Mexico 1968 Olympics graphic design

Wyman’s Wordless Wayfinding

The fact that good design doesn’t always require words is especially relevant at a major international event like the Olympic Games, where visitors who speak dozens of different languages are trying to find their way around.

“A person who doesn’t speak the local language is just as illiterate in a strange country as someone who can’t read at all. We’re all illiterate if we don’t understand how information is presented.”

–Lance Wyman


It was on this foundation that the 1968 Mexico City Olympics graphic design team, lead by Lance Wyman, built a system of pictograms and color coding into the event branding.

Mexico Olympics branding

Mexico City Olympics 1968 branding

Mexico City Olympics 1968 branding

Even with less translation, information became accessible to more people. You didn’t need to know Spanish or French or English, because coordinated tickets, signs, banners, and information kiosks would guide you to the right venue and all the way to your seat.

Mexico '68 Olympics ticket

“As Wyman says, ‘Graphic design became an important visual ambassador.’ […] The clear pictograms and distinctive colors […] helped to reinforce a sense of place and create a memorable Mexican identity.”

–Garry Emery


A Mark for a Modern Mexico

For all the non-verbal signage, the logo itself is the most text-focused of any Olympic City. The lines of the stylized “Mexico 68” were inspired in part by pre-Colombian Huichol art, yet the overall effect is mod 1960s.

Mexico 68 Olympics logo

“Has any design scheme so perfectly caught the graphic spirit of the times […] ? [Wyman and his collaborators] worked out a geometric fantasia of concentric stripe patterns that expanded to engulf a custom alphabet, groovy minidresses, and eventually entire stadia.”

Michael Bierut

Mexico Olympics dresses
Mexico City Olympics 1968 branding

Wyman went on to head up the design for Mexico City’s Metro, giving each stop its own pictogram.

Mexico Olympics branding

More information:

Mexico City Olympics 1968 branding

Images by Lance Wyman via Graphic Ambient.

Are you ready for the right time?

A big part of smart business is putting the right information in front of the right people at the right time.

Photographer Bradford Jones knew that taking portraits at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show would bring many potential clients right to him, and he wanted to take the opportunity to send them the right message. He contacted us to design stickers, postcards and signage with a polished, professional look reflecting his expertise. (His post about the event is on his blog.)

Postcard, sign and sticker designs for BJP.


Stickers: The stickers were designed to be versatile – used both at the show and afterwards on a variety of print packaging in a variety of sizes. We printed them in a size that would work well on the largest or smallest of them. Our design was simple and elegant with his logo on a light tan from his color palette that would contrast nicely against the black envelopes and boxes he uses.

Postcards: For the postcards, we stayed with a very clean look. We focused on Bradford Jones images, which we chose to represent a variety of different types of portraits. We made sure that the postcards were sized to be tucked in with print packaging and printed on quality paper stock.

Sign: We designed an eye-catching sign to direct visitors to the point of sale and outline the services Bradford Jones provides.

The pieces were done on a tight timeframe to make sure they were ready to make a great impression at the event.

We’d love to help you be ready to reach the right people too. Just reach out.