I love stories about how companies create their brands. This is one about a Japanese company that more or less accidentally became a well-known private label brand thanks to a small error in their name.
Setting The Pace – The Tour de France Logo
The Tour de France was established in 1903 and has never missed a year except during the two World Wars. It is easily the most prestigious event in the world of cycling.
And with such an important event there should be an equally impressive logo.
Well, the logo has actually gone through a few changes in the 115 years since its inception.
The most recent rebranding took place in 2002 and it has remained unchanged since then. The current logo was created by Joel Guenoun, a French designer.
The Tour De France logo features a brush script that is playful and adds a very distinctive Gallic feel. The colour choices have significance as well. For example, the bright splash of yellow (in a strategically placed circle) is a nod to the famous yellow jersey that is awarded to the winner of each of the stages of the race. The yellow circle also forms a wheel as part of the bicycle and rider that are ‘hidden’ within the design of the word ‘tour.’
This Tour de France logo was actually introduced in 2003 to mark the race’s 100th anniversary. Part of that logo included a grey number 100 with a grey lowercase letter ‘e’ over the black lowercase letter ‘e’ in the word France. The 100e reference is French for 100th. Following the anniversary, the logo remained in place minus the ‘100e’ part.
The Previous Tour de France Logo
The Tour de France logo that was used from 2000 to 2006 was well, in a word, dull in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, the logo has some great inspiration but the font is rigid with all the letters in caps. I’m not saying it looks as if it is yelling TOUR DE FRANCE at me, but it looks more like a corporate bank logo than one that represents such a fast moving and fluid sport.
A highlight of the 2000 logo is the ring of lines that form a circle. Clearly the lines are meant to create the image of spokes on a bicycle wheel. Or at least that’s what I see when I look at it. The current Tour de France logo is most definitely a lot more fun and lively.
Branding The Grand Depart
A Grand Depart is the start of each annual Tour de France and they typically do not occur within France. As a result, each starting location has created branding to run alongside the Tour de France marketing. Grand Depart locations have included Yorkshire, UK (2014), Utrecht, Netherlands (2015), La Manche, France (2016) and Dusseldorf, Germany (2017). Each Grand Depart logo includes yellow as a feature colour.
The Tour Has Inspired Other Designs As Well
There have been a few pieces of artwork that has clearly pulled creativity from the Tour de France. Artists Neil Stevens and Otto Von Beach have created prints with obvious Tour influences. Music fans also have the musical contribution from the band Kraftwerk to enjoy. The band released a song and album called “Tour de France” in 1983. The cover, created by Emil Schult, featured four cyclists in a line on a road formed by the French flag.
Taking The Lead
For an event that has a history that spans more than a century, I can’t get past the stunning current Tour de France logo design. And quite honestly, I shouldn’t be able to with the Tour de France logo leading the way. This is such a basic looking logo, with hidden design elements (the cyclist, the yellow wheel, the nod to the yellow jacket) that actually becomes iconic because of what it represents. There is nothing but relevance here and that makes the Tour de France logo stand out and lap everything else on the course.
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