Tuesday, June 05, 2007

London 2012

So the logo for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was unveiled this morning. I'm not going to get into the official details of the actual logo and branding concept - you can read all about that on the official website and in today's BBC article on it. I will give one official piece of information on it though - this cost £400,000!

What the...? Suffice it to say, practically everybody that I have encountered in London, both in real life and on the radio/TV, is unhappy with it. My initial instinct is to hate it. The logo itself comes in four colours: fuschia pink, light blue, orange, and kind of a fluoride green. You can see all four variations here at the bottom. It's very 80's, and I'm not sure in the good way. In fact, it's more early 90's, in a sort of "Saved by the Bell" kind of way (watch the video on this link and then compare with the video on the official website linked above, particularly the part after the dive into the pool, to see what I mean). Anyway, the point is, all this money, all this effort, and this is what they came up with?

The chairman of the London 2012 organising committee, Seb Coe, admitted that the logo wouldn't be to everyone's taste, but he insisted that it put across the message that he wanted the London Games to deliver, namely that they are "Everyone's Games". By being everyone's games, they're hoping that they will inspire people, particularly young people, to take part in the many sporting, cultural, educational, and community activities surrounding the Games, and to achieve their own personal goals. In the words of Tony Blair, "When people see the new brand, we want them to be inspired to make a positive change in their life."

I wouldn't hold your breath if I were you, Tony. This is hardly an "inspirational" logo. I am not an artist or designer by any means, but I do know a lot about art and design and I do think I have pretty good taste. Sometimes you see things that might not be aesthetically pleasing to you personally, but you kind of get it. Something about it works - especially when it comes to branding and logos. But in this case, I just don't see it. What am I not getting? What are my eyes not seeing? I'm all for taking a risk and doing something edgy and innovative. That is what London itself is all about, after all. But the logo should capture the city and its people somehow - it should define what London and Londoners are all about. Not in a cliché London Eye type of way, but in terms of the energy that emanates off the logo. This simply doesn't.

As I said, my first instinct is to hate it, but I have decided that I am going to give this logo the benefit of the doubt for a little while longer. A part of me really wants to believe that there is something that I am missing and that this really was worth the £400,000 they spent on it. I will wait and see what they do with this concept which, according to Coe, is not a logo, "it's a brand that will take us forward for the next five years." It wouldn't really matter what this logo looked like except that this brand is going to be taking over London over the next five years! The venues of the Olympic city are going to be built around this design concept. If Londoners don't like it, that's a problem, because they're the ones who are going to have to live with it over the next five years, as well as in the future (since the new Olympic site will remain forever).

What does everyone else think?

Update: Good new article about the logo from today's BBC online.
Update 2: The video on the official website has been removed from their site because apparently the part I mentioned above when the guy dives into the pool and there is a multi-colour ripple effect, has triggered epileptic seizures. Read more about it here. I think it's funny how the spokeswoman has to make it clear that it was the animation, and not the logo itself, that caused health concerns. Also, if the whole point of this logo is that it is dynamic and can be animated, this is certainly going to put a kink in their plans!


  • Like you said, it's very '80s in a bad way. I personally hate it.

    By Anonymous Tooomz, at 6/05/2007 9:15 am  

  • I sat there for a few minutes looking at the logo trying to understand the message it wants to convey! but with no luck. My first impression is like yours, to hate it. it just does not make any sense to me. if there is an artist out there who can tell us something please come forward and solve this mystrey.

    By Blogger Traveleer, at 6/05/2007 10:56 am  

  • Tooomz: It's the very late 80's/early 90's. The period of pure tackiness! But again, we were all teens in the early 90s so maybe we shouldn't reject it and should feel some sort of connection to it! ;)

    Traveleer: Did you read the article and website that I linked to? They try to explain the "message" behind the branding. It made no sense to me. Their main thing is that they're trying to inspire young people to achieve their goals, etc. I just don't see any connection. Again, maybe there's something that I'm missing. We will be having an artist joining us later this evening to participate in the discussion. :)

    I guess the logo looks a bit better when you watch it in a video and it's animated. A bit better.

    By Blogger Kleio, at 6/05/2007 12:20 pm  

  • I added a link to the "Saved by the Bell" intro theme. Worth a watch to compare!

    By Blogger Kleio, at 6/05/2007 12:33 pm  

  • saved by the bell!

    thank you!

    thats what that thing reminds me of!

    By Blogger skunk, at 6/05/2007 1:57 pm  

  • Skunk: I think your comparison to the proposed V&A extension is spot on! So the logo is like Daniel Libeskind meets Zack Morris. Or "The Spiral" meets "The Max"! Thinking of it like that actually makes me like the logo more!! :)

    By Blogger Kleio, at 6/05/2007 2:21 pm  

  • I caught a glimpse of the logo yesterday on TV but couldn't figure-out what it was, I just though I saw something abstract, which is somehow unusual for an Olympic logo.

    This afternoon they were talking about it on radio and how ugly and meaningless it is. All the time I was trying to connect between what I saw yesterday and what they are saying until I got home and looked at the logo again.

    Hate me if you want.. but I do like it :)

    Sure, when you look at it the first time you will be surprised by its childish and 90'sish design as you said, but I believe once the initial shock wear out people will start to appreciate it.

    You said something about it looking better when it is moving and I believe this is how it is meant to be viewed!

    It is a dynamic design which suggests motion, and you can feel that from the lightening-like shapes and from the fact that is is duplicated in two layers as if it is in 2 places at the same time.

    It is all about motion and living at the 'moment', which is a very contemporary idea, not just visually.. since the idea it reflects is getting you motivated and in constant motion and involvement.

    £ 400.000? Sure, why not?! It is the idea what is that valuable.. not just the look. The look is just a medium.. an ink on paper if I may say.

    By Anonymous moayad, at 6/05/2007 10:21 pm  

  • Moayad: It's great that you like it! :) In fact, over the 24 hours that we have been living with this logo in London, it's actually kind of starting to grow on me.

    In many ways, it's not a terrible logo. It has its own merits, for sure - conceptually and artistically. But I think the great disappointment that Londoners have been feeling is that it just could have been much better. The idea behind it was great. I just don't feel like it translated as well as it could have into the design. And I just don't feel like it captures the essence of London.

    You're right that it is dynamic in that it suggests constant motion, etc. Also, it is a very flexible design and is easily adaptable for various different media and uses - which is important seeing as this logo needs to keep going strong for the next five years.

    I just feel that it could have been done much better. Yes, you do get used to it very quickly, and after you read all the briefs and written commentary about it, it kind of grows on you. But, especially because of what 2012 is supposed to be doing for the city of London (I'm actually not an Olympics fan myself so I don't really buy into all of that), this kind of a logo should have a much more direct impact. It should have a very distinctive WOW factor. It shouldn't need 24 hours for people to think "Yeah, OK, why not."

    Art and design is 100% subjective, we all know that. One person's art is another person's garbage, and vice versa. But in this case, this little piece of art serves a very specific purpose. The whole premise behind the concept was that 2012 will be "Everyone's Games" - a great vision in itself. But if that is the case, it's a shame that the majority of "everyone" just hasn't connected with the games' identity.

    I'm not saying that the logo itself is terrible. Also, I don't really care about the Olympics and all that symbolism that gets attached to the event. But design-wise, I just feel like this could have been a really great opportunity, with all the talent and resources available in this city, to do something totally state-of-the-art and outrageously innovative for London. Oh well!

    By Blogger Kleio, at 6/06/2007 12:06 am  

  • I wouldn't say that art is 100% subjective, but that's another story :)

    Here is a good link I found on Mark's blog and it talks about 10 reasons to love the London 2012 logo :)

    By Anonymous moayad, at 6/06/2007 9:35 pm  

  • No, you're right, art is never 100% subjective. :) That was a bit hyperbolic on my part. But you know what I mean - some people will love it, others will hate it.

    I did read that post, and I commented on it! The part about comparing the logo to Neville Brody and Peter Saville was just too much for me. Instead of making you go back there, let me copy-and-paste what I wrote (for those of you who haven't seen it, read the link to coudal.com that Moayad posted above). This is what I had to say about it:

    "I don’t totally 100% hate the logo - I did initially but I’m starting to come around a bit. Some of the points they make in this list are good, but they’re too general. Just because the logo is “radical”, different, and the basis for a graphic system, doesn’t mean it’s great. I mean, their list essentially consists of the requirements for any good logo: not boring, reproducable, flexible, etc.

    But my point for commenting - this is just taking the defence a bit too far:

    “The two names that come to mind when we hear “british design” are two of our favorite designers of all time: Neville Brody and Peter Saville. Without being a direct knockoff, the 2012 logo is evocative of their work, the punk and new-wave movements, rave culture and everything we like about the United Kingdom.”

    Oh come oooooon! No matter what artistic merits the logo may have, you can’t put it anywhere near the same league as Brody and Saville. I personally love Peter Saville. He is the man behind some of the best album covers of the late 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s - Joy Division, New Order, Suede, Pulp, etc. Comparing this logo to the British punk and new-wave movements, just because its got the colours and the jagged edges, is really a stretch. It just doesn’t carry the same provocative and dream-like quality of the art of that generation. These guys who wrote this list see it is being vintage British because they are American. I’m not British, but as a child of the new-wave generation I find their comparison insulting! Although he had some positive (quasi-diplomatic) things to say about the logo, even Saville himself said he found it cheesy."

    I think I have talked about this logo to death. :)

    By Blogger Kleio, at 6/06/2007 9:44 pm  

  • I don't like it. It looks like an ad for Crayola washable markers. And if THIS much needs to be written to find the merit in it, then, London, we have a problem!

    By Anonymous red, at 6/10/2007 5:29 pm  

  • Yes, London, we certainly do have a problem. A problem so bad it is causing epileptic seizures!

    Even comparing it with a Crayola ad would insult Crayola! :)

    By Blogger Kleio, at 6/11/2007 3:35 am  

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