VANCOUVER (CP) - It will be splashed on signs, embroidered on clothes, etched on pins and prominently displayed on advertisements around the world.
The official logo of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games will be unveiled in a glitzy one-hour TV special Saturday night (10 p.m. EDT). For the next five years, the emblem will be symbol of the Vancouver Games, reaching across languages and cultures. Even when the Olympic torch is extinguished, it will remain as an image of the Games triumph or failure.
"The emblem is supposed to get your attention, it speaks for you when you're not there," said John Furlong, chief executive officer for the Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee (VANOC).
"When anyone, anywhere in the world sees the emblem, they are reminded of what it represents, what the story is, who the people are, what the values are. It travels to places that the organizing committee can never go."
The logo - chosen by a panel of nine judges from more than 1,600 submissions - has been a closely guarded secret, but Furlong thinks it will be well-received.
"I'm really excited about it," he said. "When you've seen it, you won't forget it."
An audience of some 10,000 people is expected to attend Saturday's live broadcast from GM Place, a show that will feature performances from Canadian artists plus surprise special guests.
While the five Olympic rings are one of the most recognized symbols in the world, individual Games emblems have existed for almost 80 years.
Wei Yew, an Edmonton graphic designer and one of the judges who chose the Vancouver logo, said one of the first recognizable emblems appeared at the 1928 Winter Olympics at St. Moritz, Switzerland.
It was a simple design consisting of the Swiss and Olympic flags with a mountain in the background.
"At the time it was more of a recognition element of the Games," said Yew, author of the book The Olympic Image - The First 100 Years.
The commercial potential of a Games logo became apparent at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
That design - the Olympic rings superimposed on the emblem of the Japanese national flag, representing the rising sun - appeared on pins, pennants and clothing.
"They started to sell well and people started to collect them," said Yew.
Most Games designs include the Olympic rings but also try to reflect the culture and spirit of the host city and country.
The logo for the 1988 Calgary Winter Games consisted of a stylized snowflake above the Olympic rings. Full of symbolism, it also represented a Maple Leaf and was composed of different letter C's for Canada and Calgary.
Look closely and you can even see small cowboy boots.
The logo has grown in importance, both as a visual symbol and an economic tool.
"There's a pride of identity," said Tom Anselmi, chief operating officer for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs and NBA Raptors.
"They (VANOC) have a whole community there they want to rally around this thing."
The logo also generates huge profits through merchandising. Companies like Bell Canada, Royal Bank and the Bay, who pay big bucks to be official Games sponsors, earn the right to use the logo.
"For emerging subgroups within the Olympic Games, logos are extremely important for sales and manufacturing for clothes, posters, pins, you name it," said Kevin Wamsley, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario.
"It also presents an opportunity for companies like Bell to present their products and utilize the symbolism they are actively seeking. They are paying big bucks for this so it (the logo) better be good."
The competition to design the 2010 logo was launched last June.
The winning emblem was chosen by an international panel of judges which included artists, design experts, and even a Disney executive. The designer receives a $25,000 prize and two tickets to the 2010 opening ceremony.
Yew said the diverse nature of the judges resulted in selection of a logo he thinks the public will like.
"There were wonderful arguments," he said. "Therefore the logo will come out very well. Each of us have our own interpretation of the Vancouver Winter Games. Only the logo that satisfied at least more than half of us gets to be voted as the winner. I think this is going to be very good for Vancouver."
(CP) - A look at Saturday night's unveiling of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games logo:
Event: Live television broadcast from GM Place starting at 10 p.m. EDT. Logo expected to be introduced by 10:30 p.m.
Logo: Will be the primary identifier for the 2010 Winter Games. Will be used on merchandise and advertising.
Contest: The logo's design was chosen by a panel of nine judges from more than 1,600 submissions from across Canada. Competition launched in June, was September 2004.
Prize: Winning designer receive $25,000 plus two tickets to the 2010 Olympic Games opening ceremony.
Judges: Wei Yew, graphic designer from Edmonton; Ron Burnett, president of the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver; Terry Chui, art director for Electronic Arts Canada in Vancouver; Brad Copeland, president and founder of Iconologic, an Atlanta-based brand design firm specializing in communications design, interactive media and advertising for corporate and Olympic clients from Atlanta; Scott Givens, vice-president of entertainment for Disney Entertainment Productions; Dorothy Grant, a designer and traditional Haida artist from Vancouver; Rod Harris, president and CEO of Tourism British Columbia; Theodora Mantzaris-Kindel, a member of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games organizing committee; and Steve Mykolyn, creative director of design at Taxi Advertising and Design in Toronto.
Quote: "The challenge we put out to Canadian designers was to find us a design that best reflected the values of the country and that would help us pull the whole country together," - John Furlong, VANOC CEO.