London’s controversial 2012 Olympics logo

London 2012 Olympics

This is the new London 2012 “multimedia brand image”, which was unveiled this week by Lord Coe, chairman of London’s Olympic committee. The logo was designed by Wolff Olins – one of the top established brand consultancy in the world – and apparently it is based on the four ‘brand pillars’ of access, participation, stimulation and inspiration.

None of these four keywords spring to mind when this logo was presented to the public for the first time. The first impression was overwhelming negative including how terrible it looks…

The colours and shape are intended to be use in different forms of media, from print to online. It should cast a long-standing vision, as the event is five years away. People should be able to identify and access the Olympics with a distinctive and powerful symbol.

But aesthetically, does it work? Well, according to many newspapers and reports, many consider it as hideous. In fact, an online poll recently showed about 85% of the audience despised it, with many UK citizens’ spontaneously organising petitions to scrap it!

That’s the general public views, what about the opinions from branding agencies. What do they think of the new London 2012 Olympics logo?

“They can expect quite a polarised reaction because it’s quite radical,” says Ciarán Coyle, MD of brand licensing company The Beanstalk Group, “and from a creative point of view, it will develop the debate. The design is very simple and that’s what’s different to the previous Olympic logos, where the city’s name and year are next to each other. Here, the focus is on the notion of ‘2012′. What’s interesting from a licensing perspective is that they can take this logo and put it on lots of different media. It needs to be downloadable, be visible on a phone, a website and so on.”

William Higham, futurologist and founder of Next Big Thing, suggests that a key issue for Wolff Olins was making the logo appeal to a wide range of different audiences. “It was important to make it flexible and appealing to audiences across the board,” he says. “The multi-cultural youth demographic was very important. They need something that they can adapt themselves and so user-generated content is coming in there. People are into the idea of having something that works on that level, something that suggests a ‘participatory Games’. When the event is broadcast there will more people there filming it on their phones, blogging about it. I don’t think it’ll date because it’s not tied to a particular font, or style – we still have to see it in context and get used to it. I think it will still have a vibrancy; it’s very bold.”

It is certainly bold but is it a good ‘image’ to showcase the event and for the rest of the world that the capital of the United Kingdom is hosting this sporting contest?

Let’s weight out the positives and negatives regarding the new symbol:

It is original and brave.

Doesn’t contain the cliché images of the following: Big Ben, bulldogs, crowns and assorted other royal paraphernalia, the Union Jack, the Cross of St George, Pearly Kings and Queens, abstract figures doing vaguely athletic things.

It will work across a wide range of media, which will be vital in 2012 when coverage of the Games will break over a range of formats – e.g. mobile phones, computers.

Children will probably like it.

You can’t read it very easily.

It already seems outdated, in particular the graffiti-like styling.

It’s inelegant and brash – what does that say about London?

It looks a bit like something that children TV presenter Neil Buchanan might have put together on Art Attack! And, as a result, graphic design will receive another pasting in the popular press. “How much? My kid could have done better…”

If you stare at it long enough, some dirty-minded bloggers have been saying, it kind of looks like Lisa Simpson giving someone a blow job!

  • Some of these comments crack me up, “how much, my kid could have done better”. And the reference to art attack is too funny, I love the way folks who create marketing products come up with so much BS eg. “The multi-cultural youth demographic was very important.” and “something that suggests a ‘participatory Games'”, how can one show these types of things in a logo. What it is, is just marketing hype to sell the logo in the first place.

    Talking in technical terms the logo is cleverly created to work across different mediums. A good taster is to photocopy the logo and see if it is still legible.

    But I feel the purple colour doesn’t look good at all. Also the font face really does look outdated no question about it. I had to find out from reading the post that it represented 2012.

    All they needed was a nice looking font saying ‘London 2012’ bang that on some t shirts and everyone from Guatemala to new guernsey would be wearing one.

    I’d really love to see the logo’s which didn’t make the cut.

  • flo

    oh lmfao.
    Oh you ‘ll get all of us in a naughty mind leaf ; )
    that’s too funny.
    Now I can’t even see anything else in those shapes but sweet geeky Lisa doing what you said…
    Exit Big Ben and George cross : )
    Oh and it’s in sexy pink in heavenly blue for full (mind) blowing effect .

    How is it nobody told them before they release it ?

  • walking leaf

    More bad news regarding the logo – extract from Guardian Unlimited:

    The organisers of London 2012 may have foreseen some of the criticism they have received since unveiling the Olympic logo – variously derided as an uninspiring emblem, a puerile mess, an artistic flop.

    But yesterday evening, they were forced to pull the promotional video for the new brand from the official website after complaints from a completely unexpected quarter – Britain’s epileptics.

    In the two and a half minute animation, the logo comes alive, springing from athletes’ bodies and bouncing vividly across the city, and one flashing section has triggered seizures.

    On dear, not only is the logo horrible but it sends you into a fit! And not the good kind, where you end up in hospital… I’m not surprised that there is a petition to remove this crap symbol ASAP.

  • Snige66

    I truely does look awful and so embarrasing for our country. I’m so ashamed. It was great to rub France’s nose in crap when we won, but boy, I aint laughing now. this has GOT TO GO!!! No really, the red cheeks of saying ” we got it wrong ” will be so much less than sticking with this shite and trying to defend the pathetic effort someone has got paid £1/2m for which anyone here cpold have done better. Seb Coe, hang your head.

  • flo

    “It was great to rub France’s nose in crap when we won, but boy, I aint laughing now. ”

    dang ! : p

    flo , french citizen ; )

  • It does show the best part of British culture though, the ability to pay top money for what is the artistic equivalent of a dung heap…

  • Snige66

    Oooops sorry flo, but the French looked soooo gutted that night, and to be fair did ANYONE think London would get it?

    But I’m still so shocked this was the result of so called professional desginers. It takes really hard work to make something this bad.

  • flo

    Hey Snige ^^
    was kidding uh , found it very funny : )
    And the french designers community is lauging out loud for real so keep ’em comming les Brits grand designs ^^b

    Indeed not only the logo looks great and pro (not nice, not readable, not easely drawable, cheap typoface, and can be taken for something naughty ^^) – Wonder what happened in their mind – and it’s dangerous on the top of it ! ! ( as leaf mentioned )

    This cracks me up : )

    Okay I stop ^^ was just teasing, really ; )

    It’s just that I hardly could resist when I saw your com ; )

    God save the Queen : ) . But not her designers . Except Elton ; )