Osaka Expo 2025 unveils “googly eyed” logo

Released earlier this week, the logo for the next World Expo event has left some onlookers confused as to how its twelve red circles represent “the brilliance of life”.

The logo for the Osaka World Expo has been revealed, and its design has proved somewhat divisive for confused onlookers.

Intended to showcase the “brilliance of life”, the mark will now be used across communications and branding for the event which is scheduled to run for six months in 2025. This will be the second time the Japanese city has held a World Expo, the first time being back in 1970. Organisers of the event expect some 28 million people will visit in 2025.

12 blobs, five eyes

The logo is comprised of a ring of red blobs and an additional five white and blue “eyes”. It was created by a team led by graphic designer Tamotsu Shimada.

At a reveal of the new logo Shimada explained that the design, called Inochi no Kagayaki-kun, is intended to represent living cells or a chain of DNA. The theme of the 2025 Expo is “Designing Future Society for Our Lives”, so this is where the logo’s “brilliance of life” association comes from.

The irregular shape of the mark, which is meant to represent a rough outline of Osaka, has drawn some unlikely comparisons online. Some have likened the design to a hair scrunchie, while others have taken to making tributes of it using food. Tomatoes, it seems, are a favourite medium.

The five cartoon-like eyes found on the mark are a nod to the Osaka Word Expo of 1970. The logo for this event was inspired by the cherry blossom for which the country is famed, stylised with five petals with circular cut outs. Additionally, the new logo takes cues from the Tower of the Sun statue by Tara Okamoto, which was also designed for the 1970 event.

Shimada’s design was chosen from a pool of 5,894 competition entries and selected by a jury earlier this week. Public opinion was also one of the judging criteria.

The process of a public competition for a public event is reminiscent of the logo selected for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which was eventually cancelled earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The winning entry was whittle down from 15,000 entries. It was the second stab at an Olympic logo after the first one was dropped following a complex legal case. 

Designers and the public react to the Osaka Expo 2025 logo

While some corners of the internet have poked fun at the design, others have been quick to recreate the new mark more affectionately. A quick search on Twitter reveals homages to the logo made from bread, balloons and even a tribute to popular Nintendo game Animal Crossing.

Here’s what designers think of the chosen logo…

“No one emerges from a Twitter pile-on with their dignity intact, do they? It’s all hot takes, knee jerks and the kind of polarised opinion-trumpeting that the internet excels at. Which is why I was worried that the reaction to the Osaka World Expo symbol would be brutal. But despite some vicious side swipes, the general feeling appears to be a kind of perplexed positivity. Which is perfect for such a perplexingly positive device. Yes, it’s wonky, idiosyncratic and odd. But in a world of beautifully homogenous branding, we all need an occasional bit of wonkiness to keep things interesting. It certainly gets my vote. In fact, the eyes have it. *Cough*”

– Matt Baxter, Baxter & Bailey

“I really like it! It reminds me of one of those wooden bead bracelets that kids make at school. It’s really tactile and bouncy. I thought the other 4 shortlisted logos were pretty drab to be honest. They all felt a bit clichéd. And actually, given that we’re living in pretty challenging times right now, I think it’s refreshing to see a playful and fun logo representing some joy and hope for the future. I would love the future to be as playful and joyful as this logo, and I’d definitely wear it on a t-shirt – wouldn’t you?”

– Melanie Smith, Smith & Wonder

“It would be all too easy to jump to a quick conclusion about the logo. To proclaim that it’s strange, quirky and bizarre with its anthropomorphic qualities is true to a certain extent. However, at the same time, that is what I find engaging about it. It is these very qualities that piques curiosity, stimulates debate, and gives a jolt in a “sea of sameness”.

What’s also interesting is that the logo has already become an instant meme. People have taken ownership of the logo – even if only to poke fun – which doesn’t happen often.

We should also consider that the logo is not the brand. I’m intrigued to understand how the brand as a whole delivers on the mission to “design sustainable societies and a diverse way of living”. Perhaps we should judge the brand as a whole.

While I could question it’s aesthetic beauty (certainly the typography could do with some craft and the shapes feel basic), its awkwardness is strangely characterful and challenging, and it made me smile, adding a dash of positivity, which is always a good thing.”

– Aporva Baxi, DixonBaxi

What do you think of the Osaka Expo logo? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Neil Littman September 6, 2020 at 10:33 am

    I can see why nobody started a discussion on this item and I am not about to either. Apalling.

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