adidas will be on everyone’s mind in Brazil and around the globe next summer.  The 3-stripes is the official partner of the FIFA World Cup as well as outfitting 7 teams.  But it is not just their sponsorship that makes the Germany company one of the most recognizable in the business but their history of designing great logos.

Adolf Dassler started making shoes in 1920 and registered the adidas name and the 3-stripes in 1948.  The name was not hard to come up with as it only took Adolf looking in the mirror and naming them after himself.  Adolf was known to most as Adi and combine that with the first of his last name and you get adidas.

The 3-stripes carried the brand through their early decades and successes.

In 1950, the Samba was introduced.  The Samba was the first soccer cleats with a multi-studded rubber sole.  The all black leather boot featured had a mid-top ankle support and of course the 3-stripes.

In 1954, West Germany defeated Hungary in the Miracle at Bern to win the 1954 World Cup.  Some credit the adidas cleats, the first to have exchangeable screw-in studs, that allowed Die Mannschaft to wear their regular cleats and better deal with the rain and muddy field.

In 1956, adidas developed the revolutionary polyamide sole.

In 1963, adidas makes their first soccer ball, the Santiago.  The ball was made in tribute to Santiago, Chile where the 1962 FIFA World Cup was played and won by Brazil.  The ball featured a special 16-panel design and most likely started adidas thinking of the potential to be the official supplier of the World Cup ball.  The Santiago soccer ball even included the words ‘OFFICIEL’.

adidas was the brand of choice for most soccer players and 75% of the players at the 1966 World Cup in England wore the 3-stripes.

In 1970, the Telstar was released as the official ball of the World Cup in Mexico.  This started a long relationship between adidas and the FIFA World Cup.  The German brand recently signed a new deal to remain as the World Cup ball sponsor through the 2030 World Cup.

The 3-stripes had made adidas the #1 brand in soccer and started to work into everyday life with the introduction of the Trefoil logo in 1971 in time to be a focal point of the 1972 Olympics in Montreal.


The trefoil has a 3-leaf design with a leaf representing the Americas, Europe and Africa, and Asia.  The 3-stripes run vertically across these leafs, the continents, showing a unifying element among the diversity among all people pursuing their goals.

Over 100 ideas were submitted before the trefoil was selected.  The logo became the corporate symbol and more recently is associated with the adidas Originals line.

The logo helped adidas become a household name with rock stars sporting the look, most notably Run-D.M.C. who went so far as to record a song ‘My adidas’ in tribute to the shoes in 1986.

The focus of the brand, however, was still on on-field performance.  In 1974, Franz Beckenbauer led West Germany to their 2nd World Cup title.  And sadly, in 1978 at the age of 78 Adi Dassler passed away.

adidas creative director Peter Moore designed the Performance logo in 1990.  The logo was first used for the equipment range but is now used on apparel as well.  The 3-stripes are used in this logo to represent a mountain and the obstacle athletes face with the bold adidas name underneath.

adidas performance logo
The logo probably got its biggest boost from behind, literally.  adidas made the bold decision ahead of the 2006 World Cup on their home turf to move the logo to the back of player’s shorts.  The thinking was that all camera angles of player during matches are from behind and with a team crest and number on the front of the short why not move it.

klose adidas logo on back of shorts

The brand also saw landmarks with the launch of the Predator soccer cleat for the 1994 World Cup in the United States.  The Predator was revolutionary in its construction and materials and possible the most important innovation since Dassler made his first screw-in cleat decades earler.

France and star players Zinedine Zidane wore the 3-stripes on the way to Les Bleus first World Cup title in 1998.

And in 2003 for the first time, adidas was the official ball of the Women’s World Cup.

In 2005 adidas added the simple word mark to the logo lineup.  The word mark stands out for how simple it is of all the logos.  It includes the 3-stripes running horizontally into the ‘adidas’ name.

adidas word mark logoThis brand is the one that helps pull together and make a unifying statement for the complete brand and all the sports they provide apparel and all the players around the globe that pull on the 3-stripes.