The 2012 London Olympic logo controversy
It’s not really new anymore, it was actually launched in the summer of 2007. When it was released by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, headed by Sebastian Coe (head of the London bid in 2005 and former Olympic athlete), everyone was in uproar. And the uproar was not good. Not good at all. Almost immediately there was a petition underway to redesign the identity, government officials were wondering how such a shape could have cost £400,000 (at that time almost $800,000) and the Epilepsy Action Organization claimed that it had received calls from people who had suffered fits after seeing it.
So why does it look the way it does and what’s the meaning behind it? Here are some snippets from the press release that help explain it, some what…
The powerful, modern emblem symbolises the dynamic Olympic spirit and its inspirational ability to reach out to people all over the world. London 2012 will be Everyone’s Games, everyone’s 2012. This is the vision at the very heart of our brand. It will define the venues we build and the Games we hold and act as a reminder of our promise to use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone and reach out to young people around the world. The new emblem is dynamic, modern and flexible reflecting a brand savvy world where people, especially young people, no longer relate to static logos but respond to a dynamic brand that works with new technology and across traditional and new media networks.
And here are some words from the designer Wolff Olins…
Echoing London’s qualities of a modern, diverse and vibrant city, the London 2012 emblem is unconventionally bold, deliberately spirited and unexpectedly dissonant. The emblem’s form is inclusive. It can talk to anyone. It has incredible flexibility, yet is consistent. Behind the emblem is a dynamic grid from which comes a distinct visual language. A palette of colours, lines and shapes that create energy, inspiration and interest across every application.
So what does Ashworth Creative make of all this?
Well, it’s complicated. The head of the Olympic committee said:
This is a truly innovative brand logo that graphically captures the essence of the London 2012 Olympic Games — namely to inspire young people around the world through sport and the Olympic values. Each edition of the Olympic Games brings its own flavour and touch to what is now well over a century of modern Olympic history; the brand launched today by London 2012 is, I believe, an early indication of the dynamism, modernity and inclusiveness with which London 2012 will leave its Olympic mark.
This is where we feel the identity succeeds. Whether or not you actually like the logo, it is extremely memorable and unique. It certainly creates an emotion, perhaps more so than any of the past Olympic logos (can you remember any of them?).What has been created here by the designer is a visual mark or language that can be incorporated across all media without being reduced to boring and trite repetition. This brand will evolve, adapt and grow. There is much to happen to it yet. The task that is in front of it is extremely daunting and complicated and we have not seen the full picture. Perhaps it does feel clunky, obnoxious, ugly and daft in its basic state but we live in an ever evolving, changing and growing world. Perhaps we have to hold our tongue, be a bit patient, trust the designer’s vision and see where it leads.
For those of you that just might be interested here are some links to further enlighten you…
You guys are awesome : )
I like your analysis. I also wondered if it is a puzzle that somehow fits together. Would be very cool animated, I think. Cheers for bringing it to our attention.
Thanks for the blog – very interesting. While the logo is bold and memorable, an interesting take on the number” 2012″, there is something to be said for designing for designs sake versus strategic intention. The olympics are all about coming together, striving to be the best, achievement, teamwork . . . I miss this message in the logos current execution. It is more disjointed, fragmented, sharp, isolating . . . the case study states “It is for everyone, regardless of age, culture and language”, however they are already feeling the backlash of not appealing to all. I agree with your comment on waiting for its evolution. What I enjoy the most is the impact and discussion on branding.
The mark has certainly created a discussion on branding and how people view it. One has to applaud the London committee for being brave enough to move forward with the mark. There are so many times, that we, as designers wish for something that is outrageous and exciting and rude and garners attention. I really believe that this mark, when applied to all the visual language that will come with the Olympics, will come into it’s own. In a sense I am proud that London has the courage to pull something off like this and I believe the design teams involved will really show us the dynamic uses that will come with it. I have faith.
This was an incredible read and very informative. I agree with Marjorie with a missing meaning but it is a wonderful interpretation of the London Underground scene, in my opinion. I do like, as I have seen in a bunch of bid logos from various cities, when they take the cultures of the hosting nation and make logos like this one. I also would’ve liked Paris as a host solely for the heart made with the “S” and “2” kissing, for lack of a better word. It is very brave of them and I wish them all the luck in making it work. I can sure see it on a yellow T-Shirt making money. No one better than the Londoners to stir up the Olympic community although I would’ve put my money on Australia doing that first. I have faith too and I cannot wait to see it all unveil. Kudos on the blog!