I wasn’t alone as the only one unconvinced by the London 2012 Olympics logo when it was revealed all those years ago in 2007.
It seemed that everyone had an opinion, from designers to average Joe on the street, and the vast majority of those opinions were negative. Scathing. Hateful. Patronising, even. It’s amazing what we Brits get upset over isn’t it…
There were accusations of sexual, religious and political conspiracies, but generally people just saw it as an ugly and garish waste of, an admittedly enormous, £400,000 of the tax-payers’ money. They didn’t get it, and many even thought they could do better.
“…hold our tongues and our emotional impulse reactions…”
But 5 years on, is the logo perceived differently? Perhaps. I personally think it succinctly reminds us not only to not judge a brand by it’s logo, but also to hold our tongues and keep check of our emotional impulse reactions from time to time.
As the branding has been unveiled, London 2012 has looked more and more like a cohesive and well constructed campaign, alongside and within which the logo sits perfectly. Such an enormous range of applications makes it an incredibly tough job to keep consistent, but even with plenty of room for flexibility it’s clear to see and recognise its impact.
Where first the logo looked stark and surprising, standing out like a sore thumb from the ‘safe’ back catalogue of Games’ logos, maybe now it’s easier to see the method in the perceived madness. The logo is flexible enough to incorporate sponsors colours or patterns for different applications while retaining its integrity and memorability. Particularly effective, in my mind, were the use of gold for the Olympic Torch relay campaign and the bold adaptation for the Paralympics version. And much of the reasoning and concept seems to make more sense as well, now we see it in context. The logo is edgy, bright, energetic, flexible and dynamic – all qualities that we love to think of when in relation to the Olympics and, dare I say it, London itself. It doesn’t hide, but announces itself daringly at the top of its voice, and fits perfectly within the big picture.
I’m sure there are many who will still pour scorn upon it. Almost certainly there are many who still consider it a waste of money. But for me, despite the fact there are parts of the branding that I still don’t ‘like’ (the appeal of the font, for example, still eludes me), I applaud Wolff Olins and the Olympic committee for their boldness and bravery – they took the plunge, turned their backs on ‘safe’ and created something memorable, creative and appropriate.
I’d consider that pretty successful branding.
In researching for this article I came across this post by London design agency Mat Dolphin which raises some similar and very worthy points.
And this from Creative Bloq. Designer, Joe Stone, explains why he considers the London 2012 logo a ‘triumph’.
And since publishing this article, Creative Review published this overview of the application of the branding. Stunning.