Originally scheduled for July 2020, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics was postponed until 2021 due to the continued spread of the coronavirus pandemic — with one caveat; the branding will still say 2020.
Yes, keeping the Tokyo 2020 branding intact keeps the tradition of Olympic years being even numbers alive. But the decision must have also been great news for sponsors and marketers who have been using the Tokyo 2020 logo on billboards, commercials, countdown clocks, and other promotional materials since 2015. Stores in Japan have even been selling branded souvenirs, ranging from $5 pin badges to $2,000 ornamental Samurai helmets and $15,000 solid gold bars. And we can’t forget the medals.
Building a brand, especially an iconic brand like the Olympics or the ones mentioned in our last blog, doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, consistency, and money.
The Japanese Olympic Committee has been planning the branding and marketing, for the 2020 Olympics since winning the bid in 2013. Changing the logo this late in the game would have been a logistical nightmare for the nation and the International Olympic Committee. Not only would the last-minute redesign have resulted in branding inconsistencies, but it would have added to the $1.3 billion marketing budget already allotted for the Olympics, on top of the additional spend the pandemic has caused. According to The Wall Street Journal, the overall budget for the Tokyo Olympics is now $20 billion, three times the original projection in Tokyo’s bid for the Olympics.
Though the Olympics is being held in 2021, leaving the 2020 logo as is feels significant; a reminder of the kind of year that 2020 could have, should have, and would have been. Seeing the Tokyo 2020 banners and signs around the stadium every time we tune into the Olympics this summer is an acknowledgment of the pandemic and its continued impact on the athletes, spectators, and the world. It feels like an homage to all the large events that were canceled, rescheduled, or postponed.
Was it a gamble? Maybe. But it paid off in the end.
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This blog post is the second entry in a multi-part series. Check out our last post, Branding 101: Why Consistent Branding Matters to Your Marketing, then tune in next week to read 10 Tips for Creating a New Brand.