London England, a place many will argue is one of if not the centre of design excellence worldwide, also the winner of the bid to host the 2012 Olymic games. The Olympic Games brings with it to those cities which bid and host it a refreshment of design practices, a burst of local expression and creative interpretation and for many brings a welcome boost to their creative businesses. I remember the time Cape Town was bidding for the 2004 Olympics. As a Graphic Design Student we were given a few Olympics orientated projects from designing icons to posters and an interesting paininting project.
I first heard about the London 2012 logo controversy on Design Observer in an article entitled: “The 2012 Olympic Logo Ate My Hamster“. Off I went to have a look what all the fuss was about to to my horror, as explained in the article on Design Observer I was faced with something I still haven’t quite figured out. We have come to expect that an Olympic logo would contain the Olympic colours and brand Identity interpreted through the lens of the locality hosting the event. This may be a formula which isin need of changing but in my opinion they have just gone too far. I think it contains the number 2010 and if i squint really hard and maybe do some breathing exercises I might be able to see the word London in there as well
Taking this further and using some forward thinking branding expertise they have created multiple colour version just in case you didn’t like the pink.
This “silly” little logo has caused such a storm especially so in the online media that many have taken to creating opinion polls,re-design contest and other forms of protest to express their complete and utter dismay at how something which looks like this could ever have made it to the light of day.
Now as a designer I can appreciate what those who developed this image might have gone through. The many hours of research, of doodling and sketching, of discussing and thinking and scouring the web for image inspiration and paging through countless design publications. The many iterations, ammendments, tests, feedback sessions which would result in a rigourous refinement process at the end of which a clear and utter winner walking out onto the poduim and bring fame and fortune to ones career. Sorry did I get lost in there somewhere.
I blame those who approved the logo! Many times designers in the heat of the moment, and with adrenalin rushing through their veins, not to mention the caffeine and other substances some of our peers indulge in could end up with something which many might not understand or appreciate. These wack ideas are usually very personal and when rejected can cause some pain and psychological effects on the poor unsuspecting designer. Many times the sales person/team, Creative Director or Account Executives dealing with the client would act as a buffer filtering out some of the strangeness which designers conjure up as a result of them spending too many hours in front of a screen.
An article on the Gaurdian.co.uk website had the following to say:
To some it looked like a graffiti tag, to others like a mosaic of beer mats, but to the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics the pink, blue, green and orange emblem unveiled yesterday is the most significant milestone since winning the bid nearly two years ago. It is also the key to raising hundreds of millions of pounds.
When London last staged the games in 1948, posters showed an iconic image of a discus thrower superimposed over Big Ben and the houses of parliament. The Â£400,000 logo for 2012 is designed for a different age, described by creators as dynamic, modern and flexible – suitable for use online and on mobile phones by a generation at ease with new media.
What? Did they just say Â£400,000. I think I might just be sick. No more sympathy from my perspective. Besides approving the design they were completely ripped off in the process as well. The sales person on this account must be a real smooth talker.
An interesting interesting opinion poll set up by the BBC.co.uk website to gauge opions on the controversy of the moment resulted in thousands of negative comments and opinions some of which describe the logo as follows:
* A long distance runner on the start line
* mainland Britain
* Lisa Simpson
* a broken swastika
* car parks surrounding a small stadium in the middle
* Vicky Pollard in a pink tracksuit getting down with the Elephant Man in a pink tracksuit
* A window I recently kicked a ball through
* A pink Larry Grayson doing the “I’m a little tea pot” dance.
Those responsible for this controversial piece of creative expression are a company called Wolff Olins, who describe themselves as the worlds most influencial brand business. Now either these guys have taken branding to such an advanced level so as to even include controversy as a brand attribute or they’ve just slipped up in one of the worst possible ways. Maybe they’ll be getting lots of new business from those looking to give their companies an edgy controversial makeover and that could be good for them, but I think they might just have killed any opportunity of winning any major even slightly conservative corporate business.
So what do you think of the whole debacle. According to an article on the BBC’s website “An animated version of the logo was also removed from the organisers’ web site after concern it could start epileptic fits”. The same article mentions a petition consisting of tens of thousands of names against the logo.