London 2012 Olympic Logo

belleisle's picture

I live and work in London as a designer, and am appalled by the just revealed choice of logo design for the 2012 Olympics.

I think it is a massive error of judgement by all concerned. It does not in the least reflect any design values that belong to London, and instead looks like the Olympic organisation is breaking up/smashed

It goes without saying that this is one of the premier commisions any designer could ever want, and is a travisty to the design talent that exists in the UK (london).

Can anyone be positive about this?

1542899.jpg14.87 KB
mili's picture

Hmm, can't say I like it very much.

On their website the logo is explaned:
"The new Olympic emblem is based on the number 2012 - the year the Games take place and includes the Olympic Rings and the word London." – I didn't see the numbers at first!
Apparently there are four colour versions of the logo, pink, blue, green and orange.

And more:
"Launching the brand at the Roundhouse in North London, London 2012 Chair Seb Coe said: "London 2012 will be 'Everyone's Games', everyone's 2012. This is the vision at the very heart of our brand."

Matt Squire's picture

Working in the Branding industry I cannot help but feel that this logo is a real let down. Years are spent on the bidding process and pitching phases with regards to just hosting the games.

I remember an article by Bruno Maag in creative review about the importance of the olympics and how it should be treated with more respect. The Olympic games is a worldwide event and is a chance for countries to basically tell the world a little about themselves, their attitudes, their beliefs, their tradition, in an exciting way.

I can understand what the logo is trying to do, trying to appeal to the younger generation by using the graffitti look and the bright colours but further than this it really seems to miss the whole point.

The logo is just the tip of the ice berg, it is a mark that is used to farmiliarise people with the brand. Below this there is a need for marketing, advertising, print material, films and novelty items such as flags, leaflets etc. If this is the standard that will dictate the design of these elements then I can only hope they take into consideration and try to understand a little of where the rest of the british people are coming from.

Matt Squire's picture

You can view the film here and some of the people own designs are quite interesting.

ChuckGroth's picture

the mark itself is kind of an interesting 'tangram' play on the year, but it's so GENERIC... it seems like they were waiting to see what city would be awarded the games, and they would plug in the name in as non-descipt a manner as possible.

oh well. there's always 2016.

belleisle's picture

No the logo has beeen designed in the last year, to replace the bid logo.

In addition to my earlier rant, I understand the goals of the bid, 'everyones London' everybody getting off their backsides and getting motivated to become active and healthy.

The brand films are in fact quite good, its just the aesthetic of the logo is very very poor, and for that there is no excuse.

PS. On other websites, people are saying it looks like Lisa Simpson perferming oral sex! - The '0' and second '2'

aluminum's picture

Maybe it's purely coincidental, but I immediately got a brit-punk vibe from it:

Is it appropriate? I dunno. But different. Sometimes different is good.

EDIT: and now after watching the video, I get a brit-new-wave vibe.

I thought the video was great. I'm liking the logo now. It's definitely different. I think that's a good thing. I think it definitely has a london vibe to it. Slightly retro, but updated.

Florian Hardwig's picture

Lisa Simpson? Omg! Well, I didn’t recognize the ciphers either—what I saw was rather some moustached villain in a trenchcoat wth turned-up collars, who sprang from the Maus comic, with London on his mind.

Florian Hardwig's picture

@ aluminium: The colors say Sex Pistols, not The Clash. ;)

sch2525's picture

You've got to be kidding. It's amazing how much the logos change from the bid to the actual games logo. Why not keep the same identity?

belleisle's picture

Lot of very unhappy Londoners...

Online petition - Change The London 2012 Logo

G T's picture

I heard the lisa simpson thing also.

Its trying to be New-Rave, so some trendy young hoxtonite has jammed the current musical influences into the design. Don't hate it but doesn't say much about London, England, or the olympics, it just seems stylized towards a current musical scene which is particular to here (london).

NigellaL's picture

It's bollocks.

pbaber's picture


Duckworth's picture

It's a stinker. It looks, well, 80s-looking; it's just naff. I bet the design brief said 'must look vibrant and appealing'. I have to admit that I thought the Thames 'ribbon' bid logo was as bad as it got. Ouch.

Well, not everything can be a portfolio piece!

joeking_tp's picture

First thoughts - awful.
I kept looking at it and then saw the jagged 2012 numerals. A bit less awful.
It seems to be breaking up. Fragmented, choppy, sharp, what's the point of the offset yellow drop shadow?

ChuckGroth's picture

I loved the Evolution of Man graphic at the bottom of number 5!

Alaskan's picture

Please tell me you're kidding ... the number "five" I see (pasted below) is positively hideous -- and insanely unusable as a logo.

Toby's picture

I think it looks like sh*t.. looks like a guy who´s just been shot in the stomach

Si_Daniels's picture

The zero looks like Australia, no?

>It’s bollocks.


do's picture

whilst the logo should reflect contemporary London (which to some extent this does) it shouldn't lose sight of the city's heritage - and there is no trace of this in the logo. It smacks of '2007' NME culture - new rave, the Klaxons, glow sticks etc...

also has an unccany resemblance to the jagged interlocking shapes of the typeface used for the Arctic Monkeys recent 'Brianstorm' single:

ChuckGroth's picture

of course i was kidding. it's horrible! (and i was joking about the evolution graphic at the bottom, too)

Joe Pemberton's picture

Number 11 Rules! (Referring to the alternates in the BBC article.)

The final mark takes a lot of risks, that the otherwise safe (too conservative) execution does not support it or payoff the risks and the result is bad. The "brand video" they produced is the most interesting piece, but the logo itself doesn't live up to it. The site design as a component of the whole brand picture is also a let down. The Duplo color palette is carried through, but because of the lack of interesting composition there's no connection to the energy in the video.

The London Olympics, as established by the logo and the brand site, is now a low budget, kids television program.

John Hudson's picture

The brand video is at least a fine example of truth in advertising: in 2012 every aspect of London life is going to be frenetically invaded by the Olympics, and the logo is a good warning sign not to bother visiting London that year.

Jan's picture

Come on people. Same thing every time with a big sports event. I remember the discussion about the 2006 world cup logo (football/soccer) in Germany. OK, it sucked. But. 11 designers stated they could do better. Well, actually most of them couldn’t ImO. Come up with something better!

munsonbh's picture

Same thing every time with a big sports event.

Sure there are some bad tourney logos out there, but it's the Summer Olympics! Home of amazing posters (Montréal), beautiful ID systems (Los Angeles) and this great little piece of iconography from Moscow. It's in Russian and more readable to me than the London caveman mark.

Founder, This Day in Type

Jan's picture

Yeah. It looks Stalin OK. And if it hadn’t been the Soviet Union then there would have been the same discussion going on. Posters and ID systems aren’t Logos btw. Design a Logo for the London Olympics and post it!

1985's picture

Role over Wolff Olins.
Shame on you.

'This is the vision at the very heart of our brand'


(I will not be revoking this comment)

munsonbh's picture

Oi, Jan. I have a solid rebuttal to everything you wrote, but it won't do either of us any good. The only thing I would like to point out for the record is that ID systems include logos.

Founder, This Day in Type

dyana's picture

From the press release: "the new emblem is modern and will be dynamic, evolving in the years between now and 2012."

This makes me think there is more to the logo than we've seen. Could be interesting.

I don't think it's too horrible, aside from the fact I originally thought it was the red maple from the Canadian flag. Most of the alternatives on the BBC site were much worse (#1 could be great with a few touch-ups - 11 is fantastic, of course). Probably a product of design by committee. I can see scores of Olympics organizers weighing in with what they think is good design, the designers being pressured to comply, and the end result being an unsatisfying compromise for everyone.

timd's picture

What is the purpose of a logo?


T Bones's picture


timd's picture

>logo should be a dynamic, forward thinking summing up of London and its hosting of the Olympic games

– is that possible?
– is that desirable?

I am still on the fence about the logo, although it does make better sense having seen the motion graphics.


BTW Darrel – you probably already knew this but

belleisle's picture

Update for non-UK readers...

BBC TV news ran a piece hinting that the organisers are looking at a few tweaks.
In other words they are going to try and dig themselves out of a very large hole and change the thing?.

Someone mentioned Childrens TV. This was a logo for 'TISWAS' a Saturday morning kids TV show in the 70's.

sayerhs's picture

gah! i say..who on earth designed it? and how in the name of heaven did they pass it off as a logo for the olympic games??!
Things like this cause a lot of disillusion in me.


belleisle's picture

Wolff Olins produced the logo/brand.

tomhowe's picture

So, what typeface is being used and what do we all know about it?

Duckworth's picture

Well, I posted a comment that was pretty damning of the London 2012 logo - and, although I could edit it, I'm going to let it stand even though I think I've made a mistake. Having lastnight seen how it conveys a sense of energy, I'm growing to like it! My gut feelings (see post above) were negative, but I really don't think companies such as Wolff Ollins get it wrong. I'm still really unsure of the supporting elements (the animated visual style is very 80s dance graphics), but I think the logo is already doing its job. I think the organisers will be pleased about the press and news prominience this has got - which I don't think would happen with a 'safe' logo which would likely go unnoticed. It's really going to start mattering in a few years time so to judge it now is really premature. The one thing that this logo is, is different - and that's pretty important.

aluminum's picture

I'm surprised at the almost unanimous hatred towards this mark.

Admittedely, from a typography standpoint, it's lacking, but as an overal logo and part of the larger ID system (including the motion graphics) I can't really argue against it. It seems to work.

There are bad logos, and then there are controversial logos. I think this is the latter. Not necessarily bad, but those that find it bad, REALLY find it bad and are quite loud about it.

A bland logo would have likely been a poorer solution, but ultimately would probably not have provoked that many folks to care as much about it.

"The one thing that this logo is, is different - and that’s pretty important."

Well said.

William Berkson's picture

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.

seventy7's picture

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?

seventy7's picture

Found one.

But the author admittedly doesn't like the logo.

sch2525's picture

A local public access kids' show produced in Boston:

William Berkson's picture

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.

1985's picture

Again, in the cold light of day I still find it utterly objectionable.

pattyfab's picture

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?

pattyfab's picture

Besides, you really can't top this for SUPERCOOL Olympic graphics

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

We've just released our opinion on our website, plus our visual take on it:

Bruno Maag

seventy7's picture

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."

ChuckGroth's picture

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.

Syndicate content Syndicate content