The Adidas logo. Its history and evolution. | The Color (2023)

Building an iconic brand is a long-distance race – who doesn’t recognize the Adidas logo?

Today, Adidas is one of the leading sportswear brands in the world; its logo is so identifiable that even fans of Nike and Puma recognize those three vertical lines instantly.

As the brand has evolved, the Adidas logo has gone through multiple redesigns. From the Olympic stage to the streetwear style adored by celebrities, the Adidas logo is a sign of quality and style.

Here’s a look at how the Adidas logo has evolved from its inception to the current brand that has come to define the global sportswear market.

Table of Contents

A brief history of the Adidas brand

The Adidas logo. Its history and evolution. | The Color (1)

For many, the origins of Adidas may involve a bit of controversy: the company’s founder, Adolf Dassler, fought on the side of the Germans in World War I and joined the Nazi party in World War II

After returning from fighting in World War I, Dassler began working in the manufacture of athletic shoes in his mother’s kitchen

At first, he was joined by his younger brother Rudolf, but after a falling out, Rudolf left the company and founded a company that would later become one of Adidas’ bitter rivals: Puma.

Adidas – then Dassler Shoes – got its first big break when Adolf went to the 1936 Summer Olympics with a suitcase full of cleats and convinced sprinter Jesse Owens to wear them in competition. Jesse Owens became the first African-American to receive sponsorship at the Olympics, and the popularity of Dassler Shoes soared.

In 1947, Adolf changed the name of his company to Adidas, after his nickname “Adi”. He retained control of the company until 1987, when it was sold to a French investor named Bernard Tapie. Tapie increased production of Adidas shoes, but unable to pay the interest on the loan he used to buy the company, Tapie sold Adidas to Robert Louis-Dreyfus.

Adidas changed hands a few more times in the following years, and gradually grew in success. Today, Adidas supplies apparel for the NBA, NFL and other sports, and in 2016 the company had a turnover of 19.3 billion euros

Along the way, Adidas has leveraged clever marketing and the popularity of their designs to achieve such success, and at the forefront of those designs is the recognizable Adidas logo, a logo they bought for the equivalent of what today would be €1,600 and two bottles of whiskey.

History of the Adidas logo

The Adidas logo. Its history and evolution. | The Color (2)

The Adidas logo has long been famous for its three stripes. However, it was not the first company to use the design.

The original owner of the logo was Karhu Sports. However, Karhu Sports was badly affected by World War II and, lacking capital, the owner agreed to sell Adidas the trademark of its logo for what today would be the equivalent of 1600 euros and two bottles of whiskey.

In 1971, the company unveiled the three-striped Adidas logo in a shape that resembled a leaf called a “trefoil”. This version was later replaced by the current triangle-shaped logo, although the trefoil logo can still be found on some Adidas products.

What is the significance of the Adidas logo?

Even before Adidas bought the trefoil logo from Karhu Sports, it added three stripes to all its products, and referred to itself as the “three-stripe company”. These three stripes were intended to convey the company’s diversity and international appeal by symbolizing the three major land masses where Adidas shoes were sold: North America, Europe and Asia.

Adidas added even more meaning and symbolism to its latest logo by turning it into a triangle that looks like a mountain leaning upward. This mountain symbolizes overcoming challenges, a popular theme for the athletes to whom Adidas sells its apparel.

Adidas has also chosen to put its company name in lowercase letters in its logo. This choice represents the casual and informal nature of the Adidas brand.

Finally, since the Adidas logo does not have a set color scheme, Adidas is free to alter the color of the logo in any way it sees fit to complement the design of the clothing on which it is placed.

The evolution of the Adidas logo

The company’s look and branding have changed a lot over the past century. In the mid-20th century, the Adidas logo was beginning to take shape with an identity similar to the current one.

Early brand logos

The Adidas logo. Its history and evolution. | The Color (3)

In 1924, athletic footwear was already booming. The Dassler brothers were selling 200,000 pairs a year with the Dassler logo. The original brand featured a bird carrying a lightweight shoe inside a shield.

The brothers parted ways in 1947 after their relationship soured. Rudolf founded Ruda (later renamed Puma) and Adolf registered Adidas. Both subsidiaries were named with acronyms combining the letters of their first and last names (Adi was a nickname for Adolf).

The Adidas logo. Its history and evolution. | The Color (4)

The first change to the Adidas logo, in 1949, replaced the name Dassler with Adolf Dassler. The sneaker is more detailed with spikes and the three stripes.

The iconic three-stripe brand was acquired by Adolf Dassler in the 1940s from Finnish shoe manufacturer Karhu Sports. The owner had money problems due to World War II and sold it to Adolf for, as mentioned above, two bottles of whiskey and the equivalent of 1600 euros today

In 1950, the only thing that remained of the previous logo was the typeface.

1971 The three-leaf or “trefoil” logo

The Adidas logo. Its history and evolution. | The Color (5)

In 1971, the company started manufacturing clothing, so it changed the shape of its logo to the now iconic trefoil. This trefoil logo is made up of three soccer shapes arranged so that the bottom part was curved. This 1970s version is now used by Adida’s Originals casual clothing line

The shamrock logo was intended to show the diversity of the products while still incorporating the three iconic lines for which the brand was quickly becoming known. The three leaves represent North America, Europe and Asia, the three continents where Adidas sneakers were sold.

Adidas was no longer relegated to athletes. This particular logo helped the brand to become part of pop culture, and to be worn by great bands such as The Doors, The Sex Pistols, Bob Marley and David Bowie, among others.

1991 The three bands or “mountain” logo

The Adidas logo. Its history and evolution. | The Color (6)

In the 1990s, the logo changed to another iconic version of the trio of lines now used for Performance products. The stripes previously used were changed to a slight angle, representing how they looked on sneakers. The three stripes were arranged in a mountain-shaped icon representing an obstacle to overcome.

2002: The Adidas Neo logo

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In 2002, the stripes were contained in a circle, with the appearance of an animal’s paw or three paths leading into the background. Here, the stripes take on a stylized look, with smaller ends and a slight arc to the right side. At this point, the logo remains very flat and the typeface remains the same for the logotype. This logo now represents the Adidas Style product lines.

2005 Back to simplicity

The Adidas logo. Its history and evolution. | The Color (8)

The three stripes logo is a timeless callback to the simplicity of the three stripes that made the brand so easy to identify. The logo is general enough to encompass all areas of the brand, while maintaining the overall aesthetic of the company.

What does Adidas use each of its logos for?

Since its creation, the Adidas logo has undergone a great transformation. What’s interesting is that Adidas has been very smart about retaining and recycling previous versions of its logo creations.

In fact, the four current logos are used for different product lines and collections. The trefoil logo, for example, is used for casual streetwear, while the standard logo is used for Adidas’ high-performance line.

Three stripes: Sports line

The sports and performance apparel line uses the three stripes on the sides of the pants, the shoulders of the T-shirts and the sides of the sneakers. This is the most traditional form of the company’s logo, dating back to the original three-stripe branding that was acquired in the 1940s.

Adidas Original’s Trefoil : Streetwear and casualwear

The Adidas logo. Its history and evolution. | The Color (9)

The Trefoil’s comeback is one that has become popular with people completely outside of the sports scene. From big name musicians taking center stage to influencers, the Adidas lifestyle brand is a popular fashion line.

The products in these lines are more expensive and are not designed for athleticism, although the clothing still has an athleisure style. Celebrities such as Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and many others have helped make this line more popular than ever.

The mountain: the standard Adidas logo

The standard logo features a mountain, which represents the challenges athletes face and the goals they must achieve. Products in this line range from sports jerseys and sweatpants to cleated boots and more.

Neo-Circle: Brand collaborations

The circle logo appears in Adidas collaborations. This circle logo still carries the three stripes, but offers a different look to symbolize an everyday clothing line that is no longer focused on practical apparel.

What does the Adidas brand logo teach us about the importance of brand image?

The Adidas logo. Its history and evolution. | The Color (10)

Clothing companies live and die by the popularity of their design. Not only do they need their design to be appealing to customers, but they also need it to be immediately recognizable for the most important aspects of their marketing strategy to work.

For example, Adidas pays large amounts of money for its shoes to be worn by professional athletes in the NBA and elsewhere. The goal is for people to see those athletes wearing those shoes and be encouraged to buy them

However, when an NBA basketball player wears Adidas shoes on the court, there is no advertising that he or she is wearing them other than a prominent logo on the shoe. Therefore, Adidas is counting on people being able to recognize the logo in an instant for these promotions to work.

Fortunately, the Adidas logo is instantly recognizable. It’s a simple design that has changed very little over the years and doesn’t rely on hard-to-see text to make it recognizable.

While there’s no doubt that people buy Adidas clothing for its quality, the Adidas logo remains the company’s main selling point. All of their clothing carries the iconic Adidas logo in one form or another, making the logo the main design element of their products

Best of all, Adidas has managed to tie a message to its logo. When people see Adidas apparel or see someone wearing it, they immediately associate the apparel with quality and athleticism. It is this association that keeps many customers coming back to Adidas time and time again.

While large, quality logos are important for any company, they are vital for companies like Adidas and Nike, which base their entire marketing strategy on their logo. Given the company’s international success, Adidas is a great example of how successful a logo can be when done right.

Adidas logo in PNG format

Here you have the different Adidas brand logos in PNG format in case you need to use them in your projects (always remembering that Adidas is a protected trademark subject to copyright)

To download any of the Adidas logos featured in this article, right click on the button, save image as and you can save these Adidas logo images in PNG format


What does the Adidas logo color mean? ›

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.

What is the history of the Adidas logo? ›

Adidas' first logo was created by the company's founders, Adolf "Adi" Dassler and Rudolf “Rudi” Dassler. The logo, which features a bird carrying a sneaker, was inspired by the Dassler family crest, symbolizing the challenges that athletes face and conquer.

What are the colors of the Adidas logo? ›

Officially, the colors of the Adidas logo have always been white and black. However, these colors haven't always been used in the same way. Some variations of the Adidas logo saw white stripes on a black background, while others saw black stripes on a white background, and so on.

Which is the correct Adidas logo? ›

In 1971, the company unveiled the three-stripe Adidas logo in a form that resembled a leaf called the “trefoil.” This version was later replaced by the current logo, shaped like a triangle, though the trefoil logo can still be found on some Adidas products.

What is the color scheme of Adidas? ›

The brand has shifted its strategy of primarily using black and white, and has begun to implement a new colour each season to tap into the emotion of its consumers, following the insight that 85 per cent of people buy a product because of its colour.

Why do Adidas have 2 logos? ›

ADIDAS has two different logos because the company has gone through several branding changes over the years. The original ADIDAS logo, which is still in use today, features three stripes arranged in a diagonal pattern. This logo was first used in 1967 and has become an iconic symbol of the brand.

Why does the Adidas logo work? ›

The Logic of Adidas Success Lies in:

1)A simple logo design, without too much graphic info. - Adidas logo obeys the gold rule of simple logo design. Such a design style makes viewers feel more comfortable - Its logo font and logo shape are clear and simple enough. 2)Adopt a trusted, good-feeling color scheme.

What is the meaning of Adidas? ›

See all related content → The name Adidas (written “adidas” by the company) is an abbreviation of the name of founder Adolf (“Adi”) Dassler. The Dassler family began manufacturing shoes after World War I.

What is the hidden logo in Adidas? ›

The three stripes are well known on their shoes, but what you might not realise is they also form the shape of a mountain. In the 90s, the stripes were slanted to represent a mountain, which stands for the obstacles people need to overcome probably whilst wearing Adidas running shoes.

What is the history of Adidas? ›

The company was founded by Adolf "Adi" Dassler who made sports shoes in his mother's scullery or laundry room in Herzogenaurach, Germany after his return from World War I. In July 1924, his older brother Rudolf joined the business, which became "Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory" (Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik).

What flower is in Adidas logo? ›

The Trefoil logo is the original Adidas logo, introduced in 1971. It features a three-leafed clover-like design with rounded edges. Each leaf of the clover represents a different aspect of Adidas: performance, style, and heritage.

When did Adidas logo change? ›

The Adidas logo that is replaced in 2022 was introduced in 1990. A powerful design, the modern Adidas logo is supposed to resemble a mountain while featuring the Three Stripes and the adidas writing. The new Adidas logo for 2022 and beyond ditches the Adidas text from the old logo.

What do the 3 stripes of Adidas mean? ›

The three stripes origin. The signature three stripes on Adidas shoes originated from the two stripes stitched on the sides of the Dassler brothers' cleats. The stripes secured the construction of a shoe while symbolizing the brothers' tandem.

What does a upside down Adidas logo mean? ›

Called the Flip Pack, the purpose of the upside-down logo is to symbolize the fact that, with this collection, both Wang and Adidas refuse to adhere to the rules—when it comes to gender, branding, or anything else.

Why is Adidas logo black? ›

Sewing on the sides of shoes, the three black stripes were to keep shoes in shape and ensure their beauty. Adidas decided to register the functional stripes as Adidas original logo. Since then, the three stripes business grew rapidly.

What is the three stripes logo? ›

Three stripes is a trademark of Adidas consisting of three parallel lines, which typically feature along the side of Adidas apparel. Adidas was known for this branding early in its history, with its owner, Adolf Dassler, describing it as "The three stripe company".

What does Adidas tagline mean? ›

WHAT IS ADIDAS' SLOGAN? Adidas' tagline is “Impossible Is Nothing,” which communicates the brand's passion for sport and the desire to be the pioneering one-stop shop for athletes.

What is Adidas flower logo? ›

The Trefoil logo is the original Adidas logo, introduced in 1971. It features a three-leafed clover-like design with rounded edges. Each leaf of the clover represents a different aspect of Adidas: performance, style, and heritage.

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