The Adidas three stripes logo is one of the most recognizable logos in the world.
Today, the “brand with the three stripes” holds a special place in the hearts of pop culture enthusiasts thanks to big-name collaborations with Kanye West and Pharrell Williams, plus the ongoing success of the Adidas Originals collection.
In this article, we’ll look at how the global sportswear giant succeeds in constantly redesigning its iconic logo, while staying loyal to its brand identity.
When Did Adidas Change Their Logo?
If you don’t have time to read the entire timeline, here’s a short history of when the Adidas logo was changed throughout the years:
The first time Adidas changed its logo was in 1949, two years after Adolf Hassler parted ways with his brother, Ruda. The name Dassler was replaced by Adidas.
Over the years, the Adidas logo has changed multiple times, most notably in 1971 adopting the trefoil logo and in 1991, where the standard logo featuring three tilted stripes resembling a mountain was born.
In 2005, the new-and-improved Adidas word-mark logo was introduced. The new logo is simple, minimalistic, and confident, all of which embody what the Adidas brand is all about.
Brief History of the Adidas Logo
It all started in 1924, when Adolf Dassler and his older brother, Rudolf Dassler started making sports shoes in Herzogenaurach, Germany. Their products became so popular that by the end of World War 2, it was estimated that they have sold 200,000 pairs annually.
1929-1949: From Dassler to Adidas
The first iteration of the logo featured the last name of both the Dassler brothers.
Below the name, there is a shield, where inside there is a boot carried by a pair of wings. The wings were believed to symbolize how light and feathery the Dassler shoes were.
At first, however, the three stripes were actually functional. They were used as stabilizing strips on the first track spikes created by brothers Adolph and Rudolph Dassler.
In fact, in the early days, the Dassler brothers even experimented with different numbers of stripes, prototyping with two and four stripes shoes, not just three.
When Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, at least one pair of his cleats featured two stripes, not three.
After the brothers split up in 1947, Adolph Destler, nicknamed Adi, went on to found Adidas, while brother Rudolph established Ruda, which he later renamed Puma.
The Adidas logo was first changed in 1949, where “Dassler” was replaced by “Adolf Dassler” along with the words “Adidas” and “sportschuhe” in the lower part of the logo.
Unexpectedly, the story of Adidas’ final adoption of the three stripes starts in Finland.
The logo is actually a trademark of Finnish sportswear label, Karhu, known recently for its iconic Fusion 2.0 sneaker. Adi Dassler bought the trademark for today’s equivalent of $1,800.
After acquiring the trademark, it was reported that Adi Dassler was so excited about the new branding, that he often referred to his business as the “three-stripe company”.
1971: The Trefoil Logo
By the early 1970s, competition from rival brands such as Nike and Puma was ferocious, so Adidas decided to elevate their branding by creating the trefoil logo in 1971.
The trefoil is used as an emblem for the brand’s lifestyle and casual wear
It is still used today and consists of three-leaf shapes branching outwards to resemble a plant, with the iconic three stripes running through the lower part of the logo.
The trefoil logo was monumental to the brand’s success.
Hip-hop trio Run DMC famously rocked the Adidas Superstar, which featured the trefoil logo on the heel. They even released a single titled “My Adidas” in 1986. In fact, the group is often recognized for boosting awareness and immortalizing the logo in America.
1991: The Standard Logo
Fast forward to 1991, where Adidas was preparing to launch a brand-new, high-performance line of products. This line would eventually be named the Adidas Equipment Range, or EQT for short.
With this new range came a new logo, the standard logo we all know today.
The standard Adidas logo was designed by then creative director, Peter Moore.
It consists of the original three stripes, staggered vertically, tilted about 30-degree to the left.
The Adidas standard logo is said to symbolize a mountain, which is purposefully designed to symbolize upcoming goals and challenges that lie ahead.
The three-bar logo enjoyed widespread commercial success, and the logo is still the standard Adidas logo across most of the brand’s apparel today.
2005: The Adidas Word-Mark Logo
Another rendition of Adidas’ logo still commonplace is the word-mark.
First appearing in 2005, the word mark is the most minimal logo to date. The three stripes are placed horizontally alongside the word “Adidas”, which is written in the brand’s classic font.
Another version of the three-stripes branding is the Adidas “style” logo. The logo depicts a circle, intersected by three, claw-like stripes.
The sport style division of Adidas is responsible for some of the brand’s lifestyle collaborations, most notably Adidas Neo and collaborations with Yohji Yamamoto.
Today, the three stripes remain one of the most iconic and globally recognizable brand logos in the world, with Adidas applying the three-stripes motif across the majority of its products.
Meaning Behind the Adidas Logo
Here is the meaning behind each of the Adidas logos:
- The Trefoil Logo – While it still included the three stripes, the three-leaf shape is meant to represent the main landmasses of the Americas, Europe, Asia. The intersecting lines across the three leaves is meant to symbolize diversity.
- The Standard Logo – Taking the form of a mountain, it represents the challenges athletes must face. In Adidas’ own words, the standard logo represents the challenge to be faced and the goals to be achieved.
- The Word-Mark Logo – Used since 2005, the Adidas word-mark logo is all about simplicity. It is also believed that the word-mark logo represents leadership and flexibility for the future that lies ahead. It appears on most Adidas products.
Here is a fun fact: Across all the Adidas logos, the brand name starts with a lowercase letter to emphasize accessibility. In other words, the brand creates sportswear products for everyone.
Why Did Adidas Change Their Logo?
So why did Adidas change their logo multiple times?
The main reason why Adidas changed its logo many times is to introduce a new collection of products. For example, the trefoil logo is used for lifestyle and casual wear, while the standard logo is used for a high-performance line of products (EQT).
Interestingly, Adidas never throws away older versions of their logo, since all four of their current logos are used for different product lines and collections.
Who Designed and Created the Adidas Logo?
Since there are four Adidas logos, there are four different logo creators.
The name of the person who designed the original three-stripe logo is unknown.
The first Adidas logo with the three stripes was a trademark of Finnish sportswear label, Karhu, which was bought by Adolf Dassler for today’s equivalent of $1,800.
The Trefoil logo was introduced in 1971 and was believed to have been designed by Adolf Dassler. The standard Adidas logo was created by Peter Moore in 1990.
And there you go, the entire history and meaning behind the Adidas logo, including the answers to when and why Adidas changed its logo multiple times. If you are a big fan of Adidas, you may want to consider checking out the list of Adidas shoes that make you taller.
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