There was no open pitch held for the development of the Montréal Olympic Games identity but Mayor Jean Drapeau and designer Georges Huel had known one another for some time, Huel having worked as graphic designer for Drapeau during his election campaign in 1957. To many it seemed obvious that a French-Canadian designer would be appointed. Having invited Huel to develop concepts, Drapeau asked him to his residence on three successive Saturday mornings for detailed discussions about the logo, before making a final decision.
The official symbol, consists of the five Olympic rings topped by the Olympic podium. The podium, is evocative of the glory of the victors and, to a greater extent, of the spirit of chivalry underlying their contests; the podium is also a graphic presentation of the letter ‘M’ for Montréal; at the centre of the design is the Olympic stadium oval, the heart of the games. The five entwined rings represent world unity and are designed to stress the fact that the Olympic ideal is, and must remain, the very essence of this undertaking. The primary colour for the games is Canadian flag red.
The solution was so simple, so obvious, and the M for Montréal such a natural extension of the five Olympic rings, that Huel was tickled that nobody had thought of the design in time for Mexico or Munich (both beginning with M of course). ‘Munich used two different symbols,’ reflects Huel, ‘and the five Olympic rings were put at the top.’ He felt that Mexico’s optical Aztec effect was attractive but that it was a detailed and intricate way of expressing both the Olympics and Mexico. Added Huel: ‘I wanted to work with one symbol … clean and neat.’ Maximum effect through symmetry, simplicity and economy.
For more insights into Huel’s work take a look at the CM article (ART3) Montreal Olympics. Five Ring Circus, republished from Design Magazine, Issue 313 in 1975.