London 2012 Olympic Logo

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William Berkson's picture
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Joined: 26 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
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This interesting Washington Post article on the logo reports a huge negative reaction in Britain to the logo.

Does being polarizing help in some way? I don't really know. I just can't imagine that having a majority of people instantly hate it was a goal. In that respect, at least, it has fallen short.

Roy Wilhelm's picture
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Joined: 28 Nov 2005 - 3:03pm
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I actually really like the logo. It has an interesting energy. And I'm so glad it stayed away from cliché iconography like the Tube, Big Ben and the London Eye.

I'm sceptical about all this logo-hating. I believe we have a case of group-think happening. It's popular to dislike the logo and nobody wants to be unpopular.

Are there any blogs defending the logo?

Roy Wilhelm's picture
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Joined: 28 Nov 2005 - 3:03pm
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Found one.

But the author admittedly doesn't like the logo.

Scott Hultman's picture
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A local public access kids' show produced in Boston:

William Berkson's picture
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Good things about the logo:

Dynamic, energetic, upbeat, good balance--artistically very well executed.

Harmonizes with appealing and successful motion graphics. (It works as part of these better than on its own.)

Bad things:

Second 2 illegible. Serious problem.

Too self-conscious--draws attention to itself rather than the Olympic games.

Cut out + candy colors gives too child-like message for Olympic games (see Scott's post).

Trying too hard to be 'trendy' and just missing.

[edit:] In sum, for the purpose of promoting the Olympic Games, disconcertingly inappropriate, off-key, a sour note. Hence the reaction.

Andrew's picture
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Joined: 8 Jan 2007 - 10:28am
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Again, in the cold light of day I still find it utterly objectionable.

Patricia Fabricant's picture
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I think it's hideous - I didn't read the 2012 at all. It looks like a sad older woman who's trying way too hard to look like she's still one of the kids.

But I don't think this is a case of logo-bashing. It's rare for these design-by-committee processes to actually yield anything with a lot of design integrity. There have been threads in praise of logos on this forum plenty of times, or threads where the opinion is more balanced.

I can't get the Lisa Simpson visual out of my mind... ouch.

Is the Moscow logo trying to imply that Muscovites have 5 testicles instead of the customary 2?

Patricia Fabricant's picture
Joined: 23 Mar 2004 - 9:40am
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Besides, you really can't top this for SUPERCOOL Olympic graphics

http://www.okscg.org.yu/i119e.htm

My parents have an ashtray from that Olympics, and if they ever throw it away I will be forced to kill them.

Bruno Maag's picture
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We've just released our opinion on our website, plus our visual take on it: http://www.daltonmaag.com/news/61.html

Bruno Maag

Roy Wilhelm's picture
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Joined: 28 Nov 2005 - 3:03pm
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Patty:
I am mostly referring to the masses. I'm not surprised to see typographers and graphic designers spouting harsh critiques. We're an opinionated bunch and the logo is at first jarring. I agree completely with your design-by-committee comment. Very true.

I just believe there's an inherent danger in "unveiling" a new design. In doing so the logo is put on display, almost requesting a reaction. With this design being so unexpected, people will stick to their first impressions. I think that unveling the logo without the support of context and additional branding elements (motion graphics, systems, photogrpahy) makes it bound to not quite connect with people.

And then there's the culture issue. Londoners are certianly arguing over what cultural element is missing from the logo. This is why committees often ruin the design process. "We can't agree, so let's just use little abstract woodcut-style people holding hands in a circle."

Chuck Groth's picture
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Joined: 15 Sep 2005 - 2:36pm
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Dalton Maag makes some very good points, and some very over the top ones.

In my opinion, the logo falls short because it doesn't communicate WELL, and it's unfortunate only because of the missed opportunity.

D-M hit it when they said that by trying to be trendy, Wolff Ollins (and the committee) trapped themselves into being dated. And by 2012, well, I imagine the designers will be thinking, "it SEEMED like a good idea..."

Goofy type treatments can be effective (Taco Bell got away with using Fajita for years), but they should be communicative.

But D-M's assertion that the Olympic logo will destroy British design credibility throughout the visually-literate world is a silly overstatement. And in the end, I think the public is going to worry a lot more about the 50-m sprint time than they will about four tangram shapes and some weak typography.

David spoor's picture
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Joined: 19 Oct 2005 - 6:33am
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The reaction to this has clearly spiraled out of control, with what was initial shock snowballing into public uproar at the £400,000 price tag. People are taking this to mean that it cost £400,000 to produce a single logo and are not looking at the bigger picture of the overall branding concept and it's development.

Looking at the video http://www.london2012.com I admit it looks like an 80's kids TV show, and am still undecided on it's suitability of delivery, but it does carry a vibrancy and energy to the event with a bold statement that sets this aside from previous Games. Perhaps the logo alone might not quite hit this mark, but seen alongside the rest of the branding (as it will be) I can potentially see it working.

I think much rather see a brave move like this than a bland and cliched logo that would be instantly forgettable.

Simon Duckworth's picture
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Joined: 26 May 2005 - 8:20am
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>"We’ve just released our opinion on our website, plus our visual take on it: http://www.daltonmaag.com/news/61.html"

Am I the only one who thinks this is a bit tasteless? If I don't like another agency's design work, that's fine, but to mudsling in a professional capacity? It ain't great.

PJB's picture
PJB
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"I think much rather see a brave move like this than a bland and cliched logo that would be instantly forgettable."

And I would much rather see a well designed, well considered and inspiring logo.

It should makes us think "f*ck — that's great" – not "atleast it's not bland and cliched."

It's horrific, and however hyperbolic and knee-jerk this sounds, I am struggling to find anything at all positive to say about it.

PJB's picture
PJB
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And I don't see anything wrong with what Dalton Maag wrote on their site — why is expressing criticism of another companies work mudslinging?

This attitude that we shouldn't exercise our opinion of another companies work is what gives us this culture of critical apathy in the design industry — just bung a bit of work in an magazine with a bit of supporting text and that's it.

Designers have every right to openly criticize another designers work — even more so if it is a job like the Olympics which is very much in the public domain, and which ultimately reflects back on to every designer in that country.

Andrew's picture
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ChuckGroth, I think it is damaging to British design credibility. You only have to look at the rhetoric of the comments on the BBC website, and the suggested alternatives to understand that design like this undermines the industry; every man and his dog believes that they can do better than a highly paid agency. This does nothing for the reputation of other professional designers.

Andrew's picture
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I agree with pbaber.

We are taught throughout our education to be critical. I have no intention of stopping.

Apathy, everywhere.

Chuck Groth's picture
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If you drink a weak cup of coffee, would you condemn all coffee (and don't anyone dare condemn coffee)?

I do not believe that anyone would think "British designers are overpaid, undertalented hacks" on the basis of the Olympic logo. Just as I wouldn't expect anyone to listen to U2 and proclaim "All Irish pop musicians are overly dramatic and self-important!" That would be absurd. People will yell and scream about the logo for a little while, because it's news.

Chuck Groth's picture
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But I don't mind criticizing the logo; I don't like it, and I've said so.

Simon Duckworth's picture
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I'm not opposed to expression of criticism - but I think that something like that should be a personal blog post (or an entry on the Typophile forum!) rather than a corporate site news feature. Maybe it's just me, (it would seem so), but I would be uncomfortable if my employer openly criticised a competitor's work in an online post. Logo aside, I just don't think it's professional.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Have any of the comentators blamed the Greeks yet? By taking Gill Sans for the Athens games a few years back they claimed rights to the only typeface that Londoners might unite behind.

Chuck Groth's picture
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Bruno Maag-

I respect your admission that it might have been over the top. I also respect your love for the industry as a whole and your design community specifically. I really do. When I see something that could reflect poorly on the public's perception of my college, or community, or anything I hold dear, I cringe and wring my hands. But I honestly do not believe that intelligent people will make broad assumptions of British design based on one example. There are (and always have been) some incredibly talented English designers and some that are woeful. Just like everywhere else.

Robert K.'s picture
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Joined: 30 May 2007 - 5:52pm
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My personal opinion about the 2012 London Olympics is that the logo is not as bad as it seems. When I first saw it I thought to myself: "They must be joking". But after some time and reading the article on BBC I became to like it.

I think the most important thing in the article was: ...the new emblem is modern and will be dynamic, evolving in the years between now and 2012...

I think what they're trying to do is something no one has done it before. Change and evolve the logo in a short period of time. Not as logos evolve through time but for the exact purpose. Evolve the logo as part of the identity. It starts very basic but it will evolve into something more mature. The committee has probably seen the complete change process and therefore they chose this one.

If this will be the case I'd say WOW WHAT A GREAT IDEA! Let's wait and see.

Tim Bridle's picture
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007 - 3:46pm
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Its worth repeating, I think the underlying concept is good for the brand.
The fact it's different, takes risks is a good thing.

The thing that really, really gets me is the mindblowingly poor execution of the ideas into a downright ugly piece of 'typographics' for the end use logo. It has no aethetic appeal or balance or style... (I could go on). And for that there is NO excuse.

The logo has started to appear in sponsors corporate ads in the newspapers and it clearly does not work small amongest competing logo(s). The corporate typeface they have designed is just as bad, but in my anger I don't have the will to address that yet.

These commisions are never easy, designed-by-committee brandings etc. With such a public project and the fact that other designers will have to incorporate it into their work, they have have a responsibility not to f*** it up and at least produce something that adheres to basic design principles of space, proportion, readability etc etc etc.

This piece of work, on that basis, is indefensible.

Peter Jarnebrant's picture
Joined: 22 Dec 2005 - 8:24am
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oh and it gets better--the film is giving people epileptic seizures: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/6724245.stm

Chuck Groth's picture
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this reminds me of the 'killer joke' bit from monty python...

Chuck Groth's picture
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"does your logo hurt?"

"no, why?"

"'cause it's killing me!"

Blank's picture
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One designer criticizing another’s work is fine, and does not happen enough. But posting a critique on one’s business website is tacky, and if it were a common practice the business world would see the design community as a bunch of bitchy little gossips who carry out online catfights. Submitting an article to a site like Design Observer, or to a magazine like Eye, is a better way to go, and keeps designers looking professional in our customer minds.

Fred Astren's picture
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Joined: 10 Feb 2007 - 12:56am
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The logo does indeed suck, but it's a refreshing moment when concerns that are mostly confined to forums like this website attract the attention of the general public.

Jeremy Mickel's picture
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Joined: 24 Jan 2006 - 10:01am
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Wow. I would love to get paid $800,000 to design that. Or is that £800,000? That would be even better.

Does that appear to be an italicized, basterdized version of Eric Olson's Strata slapped on there? (and for some reason there does not appear to be an italic available commercially)

Richard Hards's picture
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Sii

"the only typeface that Londoners might unite behind."

Johnston (in one of it's many guises) would probably have a similar pull, but I expect Transport for London wouldn't let them use it.

Patricia Fabricant's picture
Joined: 23 Mar 2004 - 9:40am
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That epilepsy thing is HILARIOUS!!!

I once heard that Mary Hart's voice sent people into epileptic seizures. Loved that.

Thomas Binder's picture
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I really like it!
First, the openness of the idea, the "not thinking static" concept.
Second, everyone could get involved in the concept, from young children to animation designers to …
I just see the logo as a pause within an animation.

Nathan's picture
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Favourites from the previously mentioned BBC website

darrel's picture
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^ gotta admin that that secons 2012don logo is clever.

"Are there any blogs defending the logo?"

Coudal Partners have a nice write-up:

http://coudal.com/olympics.php

They like the logo, but regardless of that, they seem to have offered a decent design critique.

A lot of the 'I hate it' rants against this logo seem to be lacking any tangible design critique (with a few exceptions).

David Janik-Jones's picture
Joined: 6 Dec 2005 - 3:41pm
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Oh what a horrible mess. I think in my two decades of design I've yet to see such a horrible, horrible mess of a logo. If anyone in my shop had designed that as anything other than a inside gag I'd have to sack them on the spot. There wasn't a single student of 102 at the 4th year grad class at the York U design show I attended that couldn't have done much much better. It's not wonder why our profession isn't taken seriously by so many. Please tell me it's a joke. Wake me up please.

And here are some designer critiques ... how will that reproduce on the arm of a t-shirt 1/3 of an inch square (it won't)? How will it look on a variety of different devices (that colour reproduces horribly between screen, print, etc)? In what way does it represent London? Why did they use two different "2s"? In what way do those garish colours not offend people overt th age of four? In what way is it something as a brand you want to embrace?

DaveyJJ <-- WidgetMonkey

fiction:nonfiction's picture
Joined: 16 Mar 2007 - 10:23am
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I think the point about the public debate over the design almost instantly turning into a series of 'I could do that for $800,000' editorials is an important one, regardless of whether they are supported with informed design critiques.

Why? Because each Olympic logo is a very mass-oriented, public icon and its (now) biennial announcement is perhaps one of the most internationally scrutinized design events we experience as a global culture. The average Joe doesn't start a petition to overturn a re-branding of Gap, but he will naturally respond if he feels his home city/nation is being misrepresented by a private firm invited to work with the public's interests in mind. It's an opportunity for designers to showcase the profession on the largest scale, and the production of a brand that is so utterly misunderstood (no matter its artistic merits) inevitably impacts the perception of the field as a whole.

I do think Coudal Partners present a compelling argument for the viability of the logo...

Nick Shinn's picture
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I think it's great.
It's not like any previous Olympic logos, and not many high-visibility logos look like this.
So why not have a high profile identity?
Those are the most important criteria, IMO, and the fact that it is actually drawn (or rendered) to have an aesthetic balance. (As was DM's "TOSH", be it noted.)
The idea that any kid could have done it won't wash, as that can be said of amny an excellent logo, going back to the Bass triangle. Maybe that should be considered a feature, not a bug.

I may have been desensitized to the horribleness of this kind of thing by recent designs in my home town, such as the Liebeskind extension to the local museum:
http://www.rom.on.ca/crystal/index.php
and the OCAD box on stilts:
http://www.kunstler.com/eyesore_200311.html

It could also be argued that any logo which gets people talking is good; let's face it, the country/town that has the Turner Prize deserves have this kind of Olympic logo, ennit.

My final point -- have you ever tried to design something that's really "awful?" And not just a pastiche of something else -- DM's spoof is a little too slick, which ironically highlights the logo's merit. The criticism is often to look at something different and say, oh, it's like this other stuff, only not as good -- when in fact that's just the closest referent, and not really addressing the same issues at all.

As for professional criticism, I think it's fair game to go after the work, as long as you don't trash the designer. After all, nobody scores every time they hit the ball.

Gus Winterbottom's picture
Joined: 19 Oct 2006 - 11:46am
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According to ZDNet, there was an animated video clip promoting the logo on the organizer's website that was later removed because the animation caused epileptic attacks in susceptible viewers. Apparently (hah), the four-second video clip failed something called the Harding FPA test. The BBC says a viewer called in and said his girlfriend had a seizure while watching the clip, and an organization called Charity Epilepsy Action claims that various people suffered seizures while watching the animation. This all applies to the promotional video clip, not the logo itself.

http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-6188994.html

Also, ZDNet is associating the colors used in the logo to the Kromofons stuff I posted about earlier. The link is in the sixth paragraph down, the one that reads "Critics of the emblem have described it as 'hideous,' while organizers called it powerful and modern."

I wonder if typography has ever been tied to epilepsy...?

Patricia Fabricant's picture
Joined: 23 Mar 2004 - 9:40am
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I don't think the criticism centers on the fact that it's different - I applaud that. I just don't like it. I don't think the shapes work well together, don't think 2012 reads clearly enough, don't think the word London or the Olympic rings are well integrated, not wild about the yellow vibration around it. Conceptually it's fine IMO, looks like an interesting start. But it's not there yet. If I were da boss I'd send the kid back to mess around with it some more. I really dislike the little pink box in the middle, it looks like they were trying to fill a hole in the design.

Shreyas.R.Krishnan's picture
Joined: 14 Mar 2007 - 4:00pm
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i agree. Its cool to be different. But at what cost? The logo is just confusing.

shreyas

Andrew's picture
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Nick

I'm not sure if you mean to make a direct comparrisson between the Liebskind extension and the Olympic logo but they really are in separate worlds. Liebskind is an advocate of modernity, the Olympic logo is a pastiche.

The media et al

The logo is not 'modern'.
It alludes to a current, faddish 80's/90's revival in London (new rave, as previous posts have pointed out). Unless you are aqquainted with this form of culture then you will fail to see the context of the debate in London. To me it smacks of an exercise in trend research, i.e. let's pick up a few copies of ID, Vice, Pop magazine, whatever. When any subculture is absorbed by the mainstream it quickly reinvents itself. I'm pretty confident this process has already begun.

Jonathan Greenslade's picture
Joined: 30 Jul 2006 - 6:37am
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I hope, for everyone's sake, that the evolutionary theory is correct. We may be looking at the deconstructed pink rock child of the final design.

The broken window may unbreak over time with the contrived help of 'consumer contributions' and jagged lines could gradually evolve into fluid curves and ribbons.

To defend it with praise for just being 'edgy' and 'controversial' is weak. Those qualities are neither primary or enough in themselves.

The promo video looked more suitable for a mental health charity and I expected it to end with a slogan like 'mental illness can affect us all'. I'm not epileptic but it even made me feel uncomfortable in a post rave comedown kinda way.

darrel's picture
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I'm moving more and more towards the Coudal/Nick Shinn camps. ;o)

Not picking on Dave specifically, just that his comments seem to echo most other's as well...

"Oh what a horrible mess. I think in my two decades of design I’ve yet to see such a horrible, horrible mess of a logo."

This kind of comment is just overly dramatic. Walk down any street and you will find dozens of logos worse than this one...both in terms of aesthetics and quality of design.

"There wasn’t a single student of 102 at the 4th year grad class at the York U design show I attended that couldn’t have done much much better."

This, too, seems to be a repeated mantra and is completely irrelevant in the context of the real world business of design. This logo was not the creation of one intern sitting at a desk in the back room earning 800k for the company. Admittedly, this is just a guess, but I'd have to say there was at least a dozen folks involved on the client side of this? And an international Olympic committee? And likely a London committee? And, and, and...etc...

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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I think I've figured it out! This is all a distraction
tactic so people don't realize how bangers-sucking
bad British athletes are.

hhp

Neil Caldwell's picture
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I think it is an appropriate representation/statement of where we are now as a people and as a global society. And because of that it fails. And yes, as Nick alluded to it does have design references that are currently being practiced throughout the arts - Deconstructivism.

I don't like this design, and I don't dislike this design - either way, the design is bullshit. It does nothing to develope the Individual from within - and isn't that the true nature of the games - To be the best you can be?

And this is where the design fails - and fails us all as people. The design echoes the ignorance of Libes and Gehry et al, who need to generate '-isms' to justify their ignorance and to some extent their desperation to be heard above the crowd.

This logo comes from and goes to the corporatizing of 'you'. And just as there is the bullshit of today's deconstructivism - tomorrow 'you' will be repackaged in another -ism.

Either way 'you' will not be strengthened as an Individual.

_________
Hiro

Patricia Fabricant's picture
Joined: 23 Mar 2004 - 9:40am
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their desperation to be heard above the crowd.

applies to some typophiles too, no?

Speaking of Gehry, I read about the f**k Frank Gehry t-shirt, a big seller in Brooklyn (his latest stomping ground) by the guy who made money with the f**k yoga shirt a few years back.

http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2007/06/04/070604ta_talk_collins

HM's picture
HM
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Joined: 9 Aug 2006 - 9:59am
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To me Frank Gehry's architecture is not pretty, but I love his work because it's so shocking, powerful, and fun. So I really like the new Olympic logo!

The epilepsy thing is not new to me. We have designed some web banners with moderate animations/effects and the client got complains that it would have caused seizures, so we needed to take them down.

Patricia Fabricant's picture
Joined: 23 Mar 2004 - 9:40am
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Gehry's work was shocking once, and creative, and beautiful sometimes. But it's become shtick at this point. And it just isn't right for so many situations, like the Brooklyn project.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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This epileptics, dyslexics, etc. stuff majorly pisses me off. It's not that I think they should be discriminated against, and I try to help people in need; plus most of them try not to make everybody else miserable, but you never hear about those ones - you only hear about the minority intent on extolling revenge for their unenviable condition. Have a goddam warning at the beginning of the video, don't nix the pleasure for everybody else; the rest is friggin' natural selection - stop trying to bypass Nature, goddam control freaks.

I'm sure this will trigger some politically-correct, bleeding-heart outrage, but I'm telling you in advance to save everybody the agony: think whatever you like, but you don't understand me, so go stuff your complaining up the wazoo.

hhp