Adidas was once a small independent sportswear company founded in Germany. Today, it is known by all throughout the world with a presence in almost every global market. Adidas manufactures many different types of equipment and apparel including tennis rackets, referee uniforms, and even soccer balls. Adidas is also a major manufacturer of running shoes.
It is fair to say that Adidas dominates the sportswear market like no other company before them. One factor that has always worked in the favour of this company is the distinctive look of their logo.
Himself the son of a shoe factory worker, Adolf “Adi” Dassler started making shoe’s in 1924 alongside his older brother, Rudolf. The two established the company Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) in Herzogenaurach, and began manufacturing rudimentary running spikes, which featured two stripes across the lateral and medial sides as a way of binding the shoe together and providing structure to the shoe.
This is important to consider; at its core, the adidas logo is one born from function and practicality rather than aesthetics. Of course, it also provided a clear point of difference and mark of distinction when athletes wore the product at competitions, which certainly wasn’t a disadvantage, but that functional element remains central to the 3-stripes branding.
The company performed well over the years that followed, but in 1939, World War II broke out and, like most German manufacturers at the time, the Dassler brothers were brought into the war effort and their factories were requisitioned for military manufacturing. It was during this time that one of sportswear’s most iconic rivalries began; Rudolf believed Adi had reported him to Allied Forces as a member of the Waffen SS, and an off-the-cuff remark by Adi as he entered a bomb shelter caused a rift between the two brothers that never healed. In 1947, they would go their separate ways, with Rudolf starting a new company called RuDa (later rebranded to PUMA), and Adi starting adidas, a modification of the Adi Dassler name.
Unfortunately, when Adi started his new company he was no longer able to use the two signature stripes of his former company. The solution? Adding a third one in the middle, creating the now iconic 3-stripes mark that graces virtually every adidas product created in one form or another.
Logo #1: The Three Stripes
This logo does not have a specific look. The company simple placed three black stripes on everything that they manufactured. Even this early in their history, the company was known for this branding. The owner of the company at the time liked to call his business “The Three Stripe Company”. Even as new logos took the place of the old ones, the company would remain loyal to the three stripes look.
Logo #2: The Trefoil
The trefoil was the second Adidas logo. The theme of three stripes is still evident in the look, both in the leave that shoot out from the logo, and the three stripes that cross it diagonally.
This logo was chosen because the company wanted a logo that represented the fact that their brand was a lot larger and more diverse that it used to be while still keeping the classic Adidas look. This logo is still used on some of their products, particularly their line of classic products. Most of their high-performance products have moved on to a third and final logo.
Logo #3: The Three Bars
This logo is the latest one that has been introduced, and it represents some of the finest equipment that Adidas sells. This logo more than the others is supposed to have a lot of meaning. The company wanted to keep the three stripes that they were known for, but also add something to give the logo some power.
This new logo is supposed to resemble a mountain, like it is challenging the people who buy Adidas products to push themselves to their limits. This latest logo appears on many pieces of sports equipment and the new logo is still instantly and obviously “Adidas” to anyone who sees it.
Why Does the Adidas Logo Work?
There is no denying that the Adidas logo is effective. Anyone who wants to build an empire out of branding should pay attention to what Adidas accomplished with their unique but highly simplistic design. Three black stripes makes for a very striking design, and it can be placed on almost any product. The fact that no Adidas logo changes too much from the original design means that all of their logos empower their brand without the risk of going unrecognized. With a sizeable contribution from their logo, Adidas will probably remain a sportswear powerhouse for years to come.