Whether you’re an avid runner, outdoorsy in your own right, or just someone who enjoys a nice stroll in athletic shoes, chances are you own a pair of Adidas. And if you don’t own a pair? You probably have a few friends or family members who do.
The iconic Adidas logo can be found across all of the brand’s sportswear and apparel and is instantly recognizable in its many forms today.
The evolution of the Adidas logo
The Adidas logo has a rich and interesting history. Let’s travel back in time to a small town in Germany and unpack the evolution of the Adidas logo.
1924 – 1949: A symbol of family
The (pre-) Adidas brand began under an entirely different name. Known then as the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory, or Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik, the company was named after the two cobbler brothers who started it all.
The original logo under the brother’s surname looked vastly different from what we’re used to seeing today – no bars (or stripes, as they’re also referred to) were anywhere to be found.
Inspired by the Dassler family crest, the shoemaker’s very first logo dons a bird in flight with a large wingspan and a single shoe in its beak. Adolf and Rudolf Dassler (known as Adi and Rudi respectively) chose this symbol to represent an athlete’s perseverance in the face of challenges.
Little did the two brothers know at the time, they would face a few challenges of their own.
1949 – 1950: Sibling rivalry
Despite forming the shoe company together with good intentions, there was trouble in the air. Tensions arose between the Dassler brothers, leading not only to a split but to a full rebrand.
There have been many theories as to what exactly caused the feud. One theory claims that the brother’s wives did not see eye to eye, causing friction in the family. Another theory claims their rift grew out of war-related matters.
Adi would solely take over the company by 1950, renaming it Adidas (the combination of his first and last name – Adi and Das.)
From here, it was clear to Adi that a logo update was needed. It was time to differentiate his new Adidas brand from what it previously was as “Dassler.”
The very first, albeit short-lived, Adidas logo included Adolf Dassler’s full name at the top, as well as the new Adidas brand name with sportschuhe (sports shoes) at the bottom.
The symbol in the middle was a shoe with the tell-tale track and field spikes on the side. The sports shoe was nestled between two elongated ‘d’ tails growing out of the word ‘adidas’ at the very bottom. It’s all in the details, after all!
1950 – 1971: Adidas shoes land on two feet
As the company gained traction, the name and its logo both simplified and amplified further, showcasing only the white lowercase ‘adidas’ text encased in a bold, black rectangle. The font remained similar to its previous look, with a slight thickening for an added emphasis or ‘pop’ effect. Truly unmissable!
The Adidas logo in this format would carry over into the logo we all recognize today. Similarly, the monochromatic color scheme would remain unchanged (whether its black, white, or their iconic shade of blue.) Only short-term, future campaigns would incorporate other colors, i.e., a rainbow.
From this point forward, the company went on to produce more than just sports shoes. Branching into other sportswear and apparel, the brand included several iterations of the Adidas 3-stripe logo over a vast period of time.
1967 – Today: Plain and simple
In 1967, the wordmark logo morphed once again, though very minimally: inverting the colors, removing the framing, and altering the font to a specific sans serif called ITC Avant Garde Gothic. The previously sharp ends of the a’s were blunted, the tails on the d’s were shortened, and the rounded dot above the i became a square.
This more compact version of the Adidas logo is as simple as it is effective and can be found on all of their brand materials today.
1971 – Today: Unveiling the iconic trefoil logo
When the 1970’s hit, Adidas began to branch out from being just a sports shoe company and entered into the realm of sportswear. As their product offering expanded, so too did their logo.
This was the first time since the brand’s inception that a symbol would (re)appear alongside the wordmark. Unlike the original track sneaker icon, however, this new symbol would remain in permanent circulation.
The steadfast trefoil logo, representing a 3-leaved plant, has the trademark 3-stripes covering its bottom half (noticing a trend with 3’s?) This logo would begin to appear on Adidas clothing as of 1972, and shortly thereafter on their shoes as of 1976.
The trefoil symbolizes the vast product line Adidas offers. Used consistently through the 1990’s, the logo had a resurgence in 2001, lasting from then until the present time. Indeed, you’ll often see the icon worn by many celebrities today.
1991 – Today: Climb every mountain
After a successful run at Nike creating the Air Jordans, Peter Moore came on as Creative Director to Adidas. Moore brought to life the most famous iteration of the Adidas logo to date. The EQT (Equipment) logo is often called the “mountain logo.”
The traditional three-stripe watermark, now shown at an angle (versus parallel) merged with the Adidas wordmark. The familiarity of the three stripes remains constant, signaling power, performance, and perseverance.
Conquering hurdles and achieving goals is what the Adidas brand is all about. Athletes must consistently outperform their competition, and Adidas makes a point to be there every step of the way.
Today, the “Three-Bars” are used as part of the “Badge of Sport”, and is one of Adidas’s signature logos. In fact, numerous athletes don this logo on pants, shirts, and Adidas footwear, both on and off the court or field.
2002 – Today: Introducing the striped sphere Adidas logo
Shortly after the millennium came the rise of Adidas’s circle logo. And as always, the classic three bars came along with it. This iteration shifts the look of the trademark bars once again, with more of an organic shape.
As is expected with a sportswear line, this logo once again suggests movement and speed. It is, however, geared more towards lifestyle versus pure athletics and thus is featured solely on Adidas streetwear collaborations.
With the wordmark sitting at the bottom of the round, striped symbol, the Adidas essence remains in full force. Despite its daily wear intentions, Adidas is a sportswear company at its core, with the brand name reinforcing that.
2005 – Today: Clean cut lines
A lesser-seen version of the Adidas logo: the assertive horizontal lines. The signature three stripes have been repurposed in another format, this time with the utmost simplicity.
Compared to the previous 3-barred symbols, this logo is the most minimal of all its appearances. While the stripes remain, this logo deviates from the mountain logo that is consistently associated with the Adidas brand.
Some liken this symbol to an abstract representation of speed, or more tangibly, to track marks. No matter how it’s interpreted, the athletics relevance rings true.
The iconic logo lives on
Through time there have been many iterations of the logo with the world-famous 3 bars. And in each instance, Adidas has made its mark in history.
One of the many great aspects of the Adidas logos is that they’re scalable – no matter their size, placement or medium, they’re instantly recognizable to anyone. This is a key feature for building an unbeatable logo, and among the reasons Adidas has remained timeless for over 70 decades.
Frequently asked questions about Adidas logos
What is the real logo of Adidas?
Adidas has many logos in its rotation today, so there isn’t one, singular logo for the company. Their logos are as dynamic as their brand. The most well-known of all Adidas logos would be their Performance logo (once called the EQT, or mountain logo) which unites all elements of the brand.
What’s the difference between Adidas and Adidas originals line?
Adidas Originals is the current subcategory of Adidas devoted specifically to lifestyle and heritage products. With a collaborative nature, it’s often found and worn on a variety of fashion scenes, designers and celebrities.
Which font family does Adidas use?
Each Adidas logo incorporates a legible sans-serif font, namely ITC Avant Garde Gothic. Since the inception of the iconic brand under the Adidas name, lowercase letters have been used exclusively in logo format.
Who owns Adidas now?
Following the death of Horst Dassler in 1987, the son of Adolf (Adi) Dassler, Adidas was sold, went public, and is now owned by the corporation Adidas AG. Two of the primary shareholders – one a football team, the other a fitness company – are located in Germany and Austria, respectively.
Does the Adidas logo today look the same today as it did originally?
The Adidas logos we recognize today are very different indeed from the very first 1949 logo. The original Adidas logo featured many more symbols and design elements when it was first created under the name Dassler. In many ways, it not only looked but in fact was a completely different company.