Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic pictograms (Photo: Rio 2016)

The pictograms allow people from all parts of the world to immediately identify sports and are used to guide and inform the public, for example in venue signposting and on tickets.


“For the first time, all Olympic and Paralympic sports are individually represented,” said Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman. “This is one of our unique contributions to the history of the Games.”

Rio 2016’s Brand Director, Beth Lula, explained that the pictograms are important tools in a variety of contexts. “From now until 2016, the pictograms will serve as a communication platform for the promotion of the sports, for partner activations, and will be present in all the Games’ visual identity, including their application in venue decoration, signposting, tickets and licensed products, among other things.”

The word ‘pictogram’ comes from Greek and Latin, meaning ‘painted word’. This original meaning was the source of inspiration for the first strokes of the Rio 2016 pictograms, which were based on the official Rio 2016 typography. After researching each sport, the first outlines were made by hand. These strokes were then reconstructed on a computer, fitting the contours of the letters.

The athlete bodies and sports equipment were built from the characters, or part of them, in a continuous stroke, with variations in thickness in order to give the impression of depth. The pebble shapes, which are a characteristic of Rio 2016’s visual language, support the designs and alter their shape according to the athletes’ different movements.