Ek India Team India - Designing a National Identity: Homegrown Agency Smitten Designs New Identity for Indian Olympic Association
Wednesday, August 26, 2020 Bangalore, Karnataka, India: The Indian Olympic Association has adopted a new identity to commemorate 100 years of Indian participation at the Olympic Games. The new logo and brand identity was designed by SMITTEN®, a communication design and branding firm founded in India.
The new identity of the IOA will be used by athletes while competing on the world arena, as well as in all official events and ceremonies at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and other international sporting events.
Introducing Team India
For the very first time, the identity also includes a logo specially designed for Team India, similar to the approach taken by Team GB and Team USA in international sporting events.
“India has arrived and belongs firmly on the world arena. Banding together under a unifying identity allows a country to rally behind their athletes and cheer for what their participation represents,” says Smita Rajgopal Poliak, Founder and Global Creative Director at SMITTEN®.
The previous logo of the IOA was based on the pre-Independence Star of India emblem. This redesign, therefore, was an opportunity to create a contemporary logo that would resonate with all enthusiasts of Indian sports and the diaspora across the globe.
In a country with many cultures, and varied sentiments, it was important to identify a visual that could resonate with each and every Indian, and represent all sports at the Olympic Games equally. The flag’s tricolour has been integrated vertically into the word INDIA, in a non-fuss aesthetic that can stand the test of time.
“The negative space between the I and N represents 1 (one), which merges perfectly with the themes of unity and team. We reinforced the message further with the anthem Ek India Team India which can be seamlessly extended to digital platforms in the form of a unique hashtag,” says Neethi Nair, Director of Creative and Marketing, India at SMITTEN®.
“To a global audience, India often conjures up visual tropes like the Taj Mahal, peacocks or elephants, and not necessarily our national flag. This was an opportunity for us to clearly associate our country with our national colours. For example, when you say ‘red, blue and white’, USA or GB are often the first countries that come to mind. Much in the same way, we wanted the tricolour to be ‘owned’ by our country and quite literally imprinted into INDIA,” says Rajgopal Poliak.
“It’s a chance to celebrate Team India with the tricolour that every Indian knows and loves, while translating it across designs for various physical elements like team kits, apparel and merchandise,” explains Sruthi Prabhakar, Art Director, India at SMITTEN®, while speaking about increasing public interest in global sporting events and making the games appealing to the youth.
Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra, President, IOA adds, “What I particularly like about the Indian Olympic Association's new identity is the story behind the logo. It captures the essence of the tiranga and tells a powerful story from many angles appealing to all audiences we would like to reach out to in India and beyond, athletes and viewers.
I liked SMITTEN's conceptual thinking about design and their contemporary aesthetics while taking into account the feedback. The new identity that they have helped us create is one which will carry well for years to come.”
“We like to promote athletes from all walks of life so when it came to IOA's rebranding exercise, we decided to entrust a homegrown design studio with the task. After reviewing their portfolio, we were confident that they would do a great job. But when we were presented with the logo and accompanying tagline options by Smita and Neethi, they far exceeded our expectations. SMITTEN's processes of studying 206 NOC logos to narrow down on the route the new identity could take and then translating that into a contemporary design that captures the true spirit of the country was something that really stood out to us,” says Rajeev Mehta, Secretary General, IOA.
SMITTEN® is an international communication design firm founded in early 2008 by Smita Rajgopal Poliak. It currently has offices in New York, Bangalore and Chennai with a presence in Dubai. The agency services businesses across the world and has worked on brands such as Ashok Leyland, United Nations, ITC Hotels, Hilton, Johnnie Walker, Funskool and so on.