Archive for June, 2007


You Now Have Five Years Of Flak To Fend Off

June 5, 2007

Re-posted from the old and defunct A Pixel, A Vector, A Blog.

by Isaac Watson

The 2012 Olympics organizing committee unveiled their £400,000 logo design for London’s hosting of the games yesterday, and I don’t think it’s possible for me to be more appalled and disgusted with the result. Committee Chairman Lord Sebastian Coe stated, “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.” Does that mean that they will next be unveiling the olympic stadium plans, which will have an identical aerial view to this hideous logo?

Let’s discuss this, shall we? First, all of the citations in the article emphasize the focus upon the youth of the world and providing them with a brand and identity to which they can relate, a logo that will inspire them to change the world. It’s a lofty goal, for certain, but one that in my opinion is worthy of attempt, especially considering the scope of the Olympic Games. There was, no doubt, a certain degree of market research done in their £400,000 design process, but did that research prove that this was the best execution for the ideals that the Olympic Games hope to embody?

The public’s reaction alone is sign enough in my book that their design process was faulted. On the BBC’s article, a poll had been launched, allowing the readers to award the 2012 logo design with gold, silver, bronze, or a wooden spoon. When I cast my vote yesterday afternoon, 84% of the voters gave it a wooden spoon (including myself). Today that number has dropped to 70%, but is still a staggering majority.
Clearly they have recognized that it’s an ugly piece of horse dung. Lord Coe himself stated: “It won’t be to be eveybody’s taste immediately but it’s a brand that we genuinely believe can be a hard working brand which builds on pretty much everything we said in Singapore about reaching out and engaging young people, which is where our challenge is over the next five years.” I’ve personally tried to like this design, attempted to see in it some sort of representation of the tenets of belief of the Games, but I just can’t do it. No matter how hard I try, it remains a jagged, blobby, crowded eyesore, and I’m hard-pressed to believe that in a year, or two, or five, the public will come around and wear the logo on t-shirts and souvenirs with pride.

The design is ultimately just a poor execution of a brand aimed at that elusive 12–34 market demographic. Magenta and Yellow are terrible representations when the five-color ring symbol has been around for so long. In the interactive medium, one that is difficult to design effectively, the logo is animated, shuddering before each change of color—blue, orange, green, and pink—almost as if it’s trying to shake itself out of the confines of its jagged perimeter.

The typeface they use for the word “london” (because nobodoy can capitalize anything these days and still be cool) looks like it came from a free site like, home to a lot of free decorative and cheaply-designed fonts. The Os are perfect circles and clash with the other oblique letters and the d looks like a bitmapped screen font. As for the 2012 itself, the forms are hardly recognizable and inconsistent. Choose a jagged typeface and you might have something going for you. Create jagged shapes that resemble geometric shapes more than numbers and you have a problem. When I first saw the design, I thought the first 2 was an outline of the United Kingdom, then I thought the last 2 was the outline (including Ireland with the little rhombus), and then I was just confused, because the 0 and the 1 didn’t match any geographic locations in my head.

Speaking of the shapes, many people have posited via the BBC Sport Editor’s blog that the blobby 2012 actually depicts a runner on the start line, a broken swastika, Vicky Pollard (of Little Britain) getting down with the Elephant Man, to name a few, or in my twisted mind, something even more vulgar. At any rate, it’s not achieving its intent.

What I fail to understand is why they are standing by their design as if everyone will eventually come around and accept it. Also, why such a grave departure from the initial London olympic bid logo, which is tastefully done and beautifully executed? The new design represents an attempt by adult designers to understand a youth market when they don’t really understand it, and everyone but them can see it without looking very hard.

The initial BBC article was riddled with quotes from various people, including PM Tony Blair, who were all standing by the same statements of motivating the youth to get involved and initiate change and creating a whole brand, not just a logo, that can evolve and invoke action for the next five years. Just with any point, hammering on it too much sends a message that everyone’s on board because they have to and they’re just regurgitating the press release that they’ve been given. Even the Head of New Media stated on the London 2012 blog that “It’s not about the shape. It’s not about the colour. It’s about what we can do with it.” Ha! Yeah, I’d like to tell you what you can do with it, mister!

I’m disappointed in the result of this branding endeavor, but mostly embarrassed for the United Kingdom and all the flak that this logo has been generating. I have not heard a single positive comment on the logo that hasn’t come from a source tied directly to the organizing committee or the government. Let’s just hope that this new brand doesn’t rain down five years of shame on the dear city of London.