adidas Logos: History and Meaning
Ever wondered how the adidas logos came to be? Discover the history of adidas logos and the purpose behind each design evolution, from 1949 until today.
A brand’s logo is a central piece of its identity—and the adidas logos are no exception, with a history as dynamic as the brand itself. Naturally, just as adidas has evolved and progressed over the years, so have its brand marks.
1949: The Beginnings
The story of the adidas logos begins with the birth of the adidas brand. At the time it was founded by Adolf Dassler in 1949, adidas only produced sports shoes. So, it should come as no surprise that the original logo for adidas featured just that. The very first logo showcased a track and field spiked shoe—with the signature 3-Stripes, of course—sitting between extended tails on the two d’s in adidas. “Sportschuhe” (“sports shoes” in German) is written beneath adidas, and the logo often appeared in a shade of blue that has become classic for the brand.
Fun fact: The new collaboration with Jerry Lorenzo of Fear of God features the Sportschuhe adidas logo for an old-school throwback moment.
This logo, along with the 3-Stripe trademark that began to appear on every shoe (and eventually apparel) is what started it all. Those telltale stripes, by the way, don’t hold numerological meaning. They ended up on the first pair of adidas shoes after Dassler had tested several versions and numbers of stripes and found that three simply showed up most prominently in photography—an important factor for a new-to-the-scene sports gear brand hoping to make a splash. Clearly it worked, as the 3-Stripes continues to be a world-famous trademark that symbolizes adidas.
1970's: The Introduction Of The Trefoil
A new logo was added in 1972, when adidas branched out from solely selling shoes and introduced apparel for the very first time. Enter the Trefoil, which was designed by a small, collaborative team of adidas leaders and a couple designers from a German creative agency. Inspired by florals, the new logo featured three leaf-shaped foils to stay consistent with adidas’ notoriety as the brand with the three stripes. Ever present, the 3-Stripes runs through the leaves.
You’d find this adidas logo on clothing from 1972 and on shoes from 1976, onward—and since 2000, it became reserved for all Originals products to pay homage to the heritage of the brand.
1990's: The Introduction Of The Equipment Logo and Three Bars
In 1989, with the help of a visionary designer and creative consultant, we sought out to create a new logo. Inspired by the fact that adidas has always been committed to equipping athletes with the best gear possible, the adidas Equipment logo was created. This mark came about from sketching those famous three stripes the way they’re seen from the inside of an adidas shoe. The new Equipment logo, released to the public in 1991, featured the 3-Stripes in a three-bar arrangement, with the words “adidas EQUIPMENT” sitting below in adidas’ sporting green color.
This logo likely feels familiar to you since the Three-Bars have since been adapted for use as part of various marks for the brand, including the Badge of Sport introduced in 1996. In this logo, the Three-Bars is combined with the adidas wordmark. You’ll also now see the Three-Bars appear alone in the newly minted Performance logo.
The Brand With The 3-Stripes Today
Clearly there isn’t a single logo for a brand as dynamic and expansive as ours. But if you’re looking for a simple answer to the question “What is the real logo of adidas?”, here it is: We use the Performance logo as the main brand mark of adidas, as the uniting core mark that serves as an umbrella to all the brand segments.
But the more complete answer is that there are indeed multiple logos, each with their own usage. For 2023, adidas has refined its brand marks for each of the main sub-brands—so here’s what you can expect. The refined Performance logo, which you now know doubles as our brand mark, represents the best product for athletes. Then there’s the Badge of Sport, which has been repurposed as the mark for adidas Sportswear. This logo represents products that are born from sport and built for life. Last but not least is the Trefoil, the main brand mark of adidas Originals. This logo represents products that are icons of the past and future. By the way, while you’ll only spot the Performance and Sportswear logos in black and white, the Trefoil is often seen in black and white or the iconic Originals blue.
And if there’s one constant you can always recognize, from the beginning of the history of adidas’ logos until now, it’s certainly the 3-Stripes. The world-famous trademark has come to represent quality product that’s rooted in sport. So, whether you’re throwing on some performance gear before a grueling workout or putting together an outfit from Originals that helps you express your style, you can feel proud sporting the brand with the 3-Stripes.
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