Adidas has been one of the major producers of sneakers in Europe even before the brand itself was organized in 1949. Before then, it was part of the larger manufacturing effort that was called ‘Gebrüder Dassler’ – the only worthwhile sports shoe maker of its time. The same company also birthed Puma, another top German producer.
Adidas was launched by an entrepreneur called Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler. The company name is basically a mix of his nickname and last name. The name is notably styled as ‘adidas’, which could be just an artistic choice, although the founder was adamant not to use the family name (which he did), and it could be a way of confusing people.
The predecessor of Adidas, the ‘Dassler’ company used this logo for almost the entirety of the company’s history – at least until the big rift between the brothers.
It featured an iconic Dassler sneaker being carried by the read of a sole in the beak of a bird (probably a seagull). This image was white and put against a black shield shape with a double white and black outline.
Above the icon there was also a text part – the company name written in uneven letters. Because there were 7 letters, they decided to put the second ‘S’ in the center and specifically highlight it by extending its length.
Adidas’ first logo was rather complex. The usual text design was already present, but it was also surrounded by several elements. Beneath it was the writing that said ‘sport shoes’ and above – ‘Adolf Dassler’.
Between the upper text and the brand name, there was a company symbol – an iconic Dassler sneaker with two vertical lines on each side.
Everything in this logotype was black or white.
Not long thereafter, Dassler got rid of the excessive imagery and only left a brand name. This time, it was white but put inside a black plaque for prominence. In all fairness, the text looked pleasant enough to be the center of attention, so it was a right decision.
The letters looked a lot sharper and elongated than they do now, however.
In terms of text design, this is the latest edition. They basically removed the plaque, made the text black again and slightly changed the letters style. They are now more tightly grouped together, and most sharp corners were removed in favor of the usual straight-forward endings.
With a brief pause, this design was used since 1971 for a very long time. It’s one of the iconic Adidas symbols – three black leaves with three horizontal lines across the part where they are attached to one another.
It could be used independently, but often in conjunction with the text.
That’s another chief emblem – three tilted lines. They are supposed to symbolize ‘reaching for the peak’, or achieving your goals, spoken plainly. Just like the leaves emblem, it’s often used alongside the text.
That’s another, lesser-known Adidas logo – a globe with three claw-like white lines. Just like the other two, it’s mostly accompanies by the brand name.
Unlike the three minor logos, this one is primary. It’s used both to signify the brand itself and on many products that don’t belong to broad collections. It’s just a black company name with three long lines right to the left of it. Just the same, the imagery is often used independently.
The three minor symbols are actually used to mark different collections – ‘Originals’, ‘Performance’ and ‘Style’, even though they were primary logos once upon the time. Adidas likes to recycle their logos this way, because it makes buying the collections you like in particular a lot either.