While the 2010 Vancouver Olympics began just a couple of weeks ago, the design team at Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) has spent years cultivating a brand identity for the Games that encapsulates not only the intensity of all the twirling, sledding, gliding athletes, but also the spirit of Canada itself. In the words of VANOC’s design director, Leo Obstbaum, the design should be “Something as simple as ‘Hello my name is Vancouver. Hello my name is Canada.'” Like all brand identities, the Vancouver Olympics’ began with the foundation of a simple typeface. Or in this case, two.

Charlotte Sans along with a customized unicase version of Neo Sans have been sprawled all across the websites, merchandise, arenas and athletes themselves. According to Graphic Arts Online, VANOC’s VP of Brand and Creative Services, Ali Gardiner, chose Neo Sans because, “…it felt contemporary and would present Canada as a modern, progressive country, but it also feels like it will ‘age well’…which is important for Olympic design because it’s seen for decades and even centuries after the Games themselves.”

Neo Sans was designed by British type designer Sebastian Lester and released by the Monotype Corporation in 2004. Gardiner also adds that Neo Sans, “could be used to display text in a way that felt both warn and friendly as well as contemporary and cool, which was how we wanted to represent Canada to the world.” Charlotte Sans, which appears on the official logo of the Vancouver Olympics, was created by Michael Gills in 1992 as a humanist sans-serif typeface. Check out the typefaces in Olympic action:

Ostbaum, Gardiner and the team at VANOC definitely earned a gold medal in brand identity for this one. Their wise font choice coupled with organic artwork has helped earn the 2010 Olympics the attention it deserves. For more olympic coverage, check out these amazing photographs of the Games from Boston.com here. Go team U.S.A.!!

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