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?

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Nick Shinn's picture

There’s no such thing as bad publicty.

In fact, publicty of any kind doesn't exist in the dictionary.
But you were using sensational spelling to make a point, right?!

belleisle's picture

And Acrobat, if I showed you something white I guess you would argue its black...

Its the job of a designer to see the bigger picture, the other side, but it does'nt make this a good logo. You must have a high opinion of yourself to think we havent already taken into account the points you raise before the negative reaction.

Publicity? - there is already a massive debate in London about the misfinancing of the games - the negative publicity generated about this logo is the last thing they wanted, believe me.

Today in London, I was at a design conference, listening to a talk by Neville Brody, an internationally regarded, reactionary, ground breaking designer of his generation if ever there was one. He spoke how agencies such as W.O. are like an inverted triangle, creativity at the bottom, overlaiden with layers of account handlers and managers at he top. He added that the net result of projects undertaken by such agencies, was work like the London 2012 branding.

Needless to say he did'nt like the logo, to say the least.

Specifically about your comments, the logo is having to be used small in sponsors press ads, and guess what, it does'nt work. This leads directly to the central point of the criticism as far as I'm concerned:

ITS NOT THE CONCEPT/MESSAGE BEHIND THE BRAND, ITS THE LACK OF BASIC DESIGN CRAFT IN THE LOGO ITSELF.

William Berkson's picture

This has got five years, so the key test is going to be whether this gains in public affection over time.

My money is on NOT.

I give this logo a 'B+' for art, a 'C-' for typography, and an 'F' for appropriateness. Not that anybody asked :)

Julie Oakley's picture

Belleisle, I was at that talk as well.

I lost a lot of respect for Neville Brody - he didn't have the courtesy to prepare his talk properly and he didn't let the truth get in the way of what he thought was a good story. All that posing as some kind of revolutionary leftie.
He showed us a picture of the Hornsey art college building (which he went to one year before I did) and presented it as a hotbed of revolutionary fervour that eventually was shut down by Thatcher as too great a threat to the establishment.

Well, just to put the record straight, all the revolutionary fervour had happened ten years before (when he would have been about eight years old) and by the time both Neville and I attended it was a very tame part of Middlesex Polytechnic, and rather than Thatcher, the reason the building was sold was that the college had built a shiny new well-equipped building to replace it. And all that rubbish about schools being funded on results in core subjects - hey but who cares about the truth when you're a hip, revolutionary anti-establishment designer (who happens to have Bentley, Dom Perignon and The Times as clients)

Julie Oakley's picture

But back on topic, the 2012 logo is rubbish

hrant's picture

I used to not like Brody very much, until I saw him speak in person in Thessaloniki
a few years ago. Maybe the Greek food helped? I mean him. I'm used to Greek food.
Or maybe what helped was speaking to type people, not "just" graphic designers.

hhp

sayerhs's picture

hmm, what im wondering is..the whole "cartoonish" look(if i may call it that) seems to be in. many logos of international bodies are like that(I cant recall which ones but we saw a few at a presentation on sustainable development by Helmut Langer.Even the identity of the athens olympics. Why is there a sudden madness for this sorta stuff?

shreyas

canderson's picture

There’s no such thing as bad publicty.
In fact, publicty of any kind doesn’t exist in the dictionary.

Nick, I think this means I might be able to get a trademark. If so, any future use of "publicty" will be restricted. First I create the "buzz,", then I secure the rights.

acrobat's picture

Ts ts ts. Belleisle, listen to yourself! (And listen to yourself telling us in all seriousness that you listened to Neville!).

Joe Pemberton's picture

Thanks Scott. It was Zoom that I was thinking of in my kids' TV program comment.

ChuckGroth: I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Well stated.

I had a lot higher regard for Wolf Olins prior to this. (Tate gallery identity anyone?) But, I'm not going to call them has-beens, and I personally would not take Neville Brody's word for it.

belleisle's picture

Julie, I hope you had a good day at the event.

Poor old Neville, I only mentioned him, as his point about the management structure of agencies might open a debate as to why design work like 2012 happens. I've worked in enough of these places to know how the designers at W.O. would have been put in no win situations when doing this work.

NB's not so bad, his talk fell away in the second half as his newer work lacks the sense of interest and history that the Face stuff would have, for me at any least.

Having had a chance to properly read back through this thread Bruno Maag also has been given a tough time for having the courage to put his name to criticism of the logo, especially as he is a part of a fairly tight knit circle of London's premier design operators.
I can't help thinking, if only someone like DaltonMaag had been involved with 2012, the mess that has been created might not of happened.

dontbugme's picture

I have to say, it looks like Ms. Olympia is performing an act on Mr London.

pattyfab's picture

The New York Times is weighing in as well - is the reaction to this logo emblematic of the British public's resistance to hosting the Olympics in the first place?

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/07/world/europe/07olympics.html?_r=1&oref...

New York pitched to host the olympics a few years ago and I was immensely relieved we didn't get picked. What city wants them, honestly? Unless the swedish ski team stays in my apartment ;-)

ChuckGroth's picture

do you have any idea how much hot chocolate and absolut they go through in a day?

aluminum's picture

"The New York Times is weighing in as well - is the reaction to this logo emblematic of the British public’s resistance to hosting the Olympics in the first place?"

Ah! Hmm...very interesting question!

wormwood's picture

From the NYTimes article...

“When something is so swingingly attacked as the 2012 logo has been, it tells you more about the people doing the attacking, and their taste, than about the design in question,” said Michael Wolff, the co-founder of Wolff Olins, the branding agency that designed the logo. “Prejudice is comfortable and lazy.”

Mr. Wolff, who has since formed a separate company, went on to say in The Evening Standard, “I think this petulant reaction will subside and pride will take its place.”

Well, as long as Mr Wolff is happy, then apparently we should be to.

Arrogant charlatan.

ChuckGroth's picture

who has since formed a separate company...

$400,000 start-up...

wormwood's picture

"The New York Times is weighing in as well - is the reaction to this logo emblematic of the British public’s resistance to hosting the Olympics in the first place?"

What a vacuous suggestion. It would be like protesting against the war in Iraq by critisizing the design of the soldiers uniforms.

Makes for a good defence of crap design though.

ChuckGroth's picture

well, i hated the use of Times New Roman in the "Mission Accomplished" banner.

I don't think it was a vacuous statement, but more a statement that people sometimes respond vacuously to things that upset them. Kids throw temper tantrums about their shoes when getting ready for school, but are really anxious about the spelling bee. Executives complain about parking spaces because they're unprepared for a presentation.

1985's picture

Nick, I don't believe in attention by any means. It probably works from a capital point of view, I'm sure there are plenty of case studies where loud branding has led to brand success. However by pandering to this mentality we promote incedibly empty, crass design. Design where the only goal is money. I certainly don't think that is appropriate for the ethos of the Olympic games and it saddens me that anyone within the domain of typophile might find this appropriate.

Someone will be quick to point out how romantic this is, it's not. I'm being realistic by asserting that design of this nature is detrimental.

Hiroshige's picture

I’m being realistic by asserting that design of this nature is detrimental.

Deterimental to what?

This design is completely appropriate. It's appropriate for the want of integrity, something which was lost as a people and as a global society - a long time ago. Now we have all the good stuff like - pre-emptive war, globalization, corporatization, consumerism - umm... Darfur(s). Loud and proud, Us vs Them.

"Yea, so the logo is bullshit. Why is that bad? It’s just to advertise the olympics."

_________
Hiro

timd's picture

>It’s just to advertise the olympics

and the Paralympics.

Tim

funhaus5's picture

Couple of things -- if a vast majority of people dislike something it could be "groupthink". . . or -- the more obvious answer -- it just could be that the object of dislike simply isn't any good.

[For example, 70 percent of Americans think Bush is doing a disastrous job. Now, maybe some of you would call this "groupthink". But perhaps it is because we might just currently have the worst president ever. ]

Some of the proponents of this egregious logo like it because it's "different". That's a rather pathetic reason. There was a lot 1980s style that was "different" back then, too, much as this logo rips off that era . . . oh, sorry, "is influenced by". . . but that doesn't mean parachute pants were ever a good idea.

Actually, that's no reason at all if you think about it.

And if you think it's good because we're all writing in about how much we loathe it or are disappointed by it, well, that is a PR agency reaction, but it doesn't make the design work any better. The thing about works being "controversial" is that they are not always Stravinsky's "Rites of Spring." Sometimes they're the "Piss Christ" (a crucifix in a glass of urine, for those youngsters out there) -- controversial maybe, but mediocre, even bad as "art". For $800K I sure would have expected a whole lot more.

Now, as for this "ID" system. . . what ID "system"? The four colors? Is that the supposed "system"? Color me un-impressed. And if it takes a music video/movie trailer/motion graphic thing to "explain" a logo, then I'm not really sure that logo is really working. . . on its own. It's like a poem that requires footnotes -- outside of "The Wasteland", probably not much of a poem. Probably you should go back, and re-write, and re-write until you nail it.

I'm against this logo because not only is it hideous visual pollution, from my purely aesthetically subjective point of view, but it fails in legibility. It fails to convey "Olympics" or "athletics" or "London". It sort of conveys "outdated 80s mall 'graffitti' ", but that is not the point. Call me hopelessly literal, but I am sort of a sucker for marks that, you know, actually have something to do with the company/brand/event they are meant to represent. Or, failing that, are intriguing. Or at very least, beautiful. This logo fails on all counts.

Si_Daniels's picture

Hrant> used to not like Brody very much, until I saw him speak in person in Thessaloniki a few years ago.

2004 or 2002? Anyway the year Carson was a no-show I was very impressed by the way Neville and Erik stepped up to do an informal town-hall style meeting with the students and other delegates. It was totally unscripted, with them sitting on the edge of the stage, very cool.

aluminum's picture

"Couple of things — if a vast majority of people dislike something it could be “groupthink”… or — the more obvious answer — it just could be that the object of dislike simply isn’t any good."

Look at hate/love ratio for Apple. Compare it to Dell. Which is a better product? Which is more succesful?

I don't think 'loud hate' means it is bad. It means it triggers a strong reaction. Sometimes it may be cause it's bad. I have a hunch it's more often just because it's different and not mainstream.

Ken Messenger's picture

$400,000 start-up…

That's actually £400,000 (a few shekels shy of $800k to us yanks). I might be able to set up a nice new studio for that....maybe.

hrant's picture

> the year Carson was a no-show I was very impressed by ...

Yeah, that one.

hhp

Paul Cutler's picture

> Maybe the Greek food helped? I mean him. I’m used to Greek food.

Hrant - then what about Elena Greek Armenian Cuisine on Glendale Boulevard?

peas

ChuckGroth's picture

Well, I said the $400k because I figured Wolff only got half...

(I'm not that strong at math -- believe me-- but division by two is right in my skill set!)

William Berkson's picture

This is extraordinary. Has there ever been a furor like this over a logo?

Not only is it evidently all over the British press, but also in both the Washington Post and New York Times. And I'm sure a lot of other places.

I don't think there has been a typography story this big since the faked memo about George Bush.

I suppose it is good as it shows that people care about graphic design.

lunyboy's picture

That piece of crap would have been a breeze to sell to a bunch of stuffed shirts who hated the Sex Pistols. Even the pitch that I heard on BBC was just a complete wash of marketing bullshit. I think, that if it had been fronted by a group of real punk rock designers who were paid 50 pounds on a Pub Tab I would like it much, much more. At least then there would have been some authenticity to the sentiment.

"The bigger the lie, therefore, the likelier it is to be believed."
- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kempf.

hrant's picture

Paul, I've only been there once, and mostly I remember the waitress. Sorry.

hhp

Paul Cutler's picture

The lentil soup is delicious and their stuffed grape leaves are recommended (my wife likes the meat variety). I also like the kebabs and the prices are right.

There's not much Greek about it except they serve gyros - but it's a good really reasonably priced place.

Do I care about graphic design? Not nearly as much as food, which seems to be more primal. That being said, I have a lot of passion…

appease

hrant's picture

Food is most definitely the pinnacle of sensuality.

hhp

Si_Daniels's picture

>Do I care about graphic design? Not nearly as much as food, which seems to be more primal. That being said, I have a lot of passion…

As far as conferences go, I take the advice of Ole Lund, who said when choosing which ones to attend the only things that count are "the venue and the menu" to add to that I'd say the people count too so, Thessaloniki scores three out of three - only two weeks to go - and Seattle scores too.

Paul Cutler's picture

Hedonic calculus kicks in.

pbc

blank's picture

I have an interesting theory to posit. It’s no secret that most designers don’t like working in top-heavy environments, and that really great creative work tends to come from small organizations with lots of creative freedom. This is the opposite of the rest of business and government, where huge numbers of bureaucrats are constantly put in place, shuffled around, fired, etc. just to keep everybody else working and happy enough to not revolt. Perhaps the usual outcry over public design projects results from business and government types not wanting to accept that their modus operandi tends to fail at producing good design. For every Vietnam Wall there are dozens, if not hundreds, of public design disasters, and that fact just seems to drive the bean-counters crazy.

Rob O. Font's picture

"Can anyone be positive about this?"
Barney would like it. I'd ask him.

Rob O. Font's picture

"Can anyone be positive about this?"
Barney would like it. I'd ask him.

pattyfab's picture

Jon Stewart referred to the logo last night as a slot machine going down on a stop sign.

zvs's picture

Does anyone know where I can find the now removed siezure inducing motion graphic?
I've looked and looked but can't find anything.

... _._. ... .. ... __.. ..._ ...

pattyfab's picture

Jon Stewart showed it, believe me you're better off w/o it. It was just the silly logo jumping around and changing colors.

eriks's picture

Well, I said the $400k because I figured Wolff only got half…
Sometimes, a little knowledge is dangerous. Half-baked facts get copyandpasted, read and repeated by other people and soon are taken as facts.
This is a case of remote character assassination which a little research could have prevented. Michael Woll founded Wolff Olins in 1965 with Wally Olins and left the consultancy 20 years later. Wally also left afew years ago, just after Omnicom bought Wolff Olins. And even if both of them were still there, attributing half of the revenue to each of the partners is silly, naive and even outright stupid. Anybody who’s ever worked on these big accounts knows that the money is spent on endless meetings, repetitious presentations to different departments of the client’s company and a lot of hot air from all the consultants involved. Very much the inverted triangle model that Neville apparently talked about (and which made me leave my own company, MetaDesign, after 21 years).

I also think the logo sucks – naive concept, bad execution – but I would never let petty jealousy and half-informed prejudice colour my judgement. This is simply a case of the old motto being applied that originally comes from the advertising world:
It is not enough to have no ideas, one also has to be unable to express them.

Si_Daniels's picture

The Jon Stewart piece is up on the main page of http://www.comedycentral.com/

Cheers, Si

pattyfab's picture

Anyone remember "whatizzit" the Atlanta mascot? Big blue sperm with googly eyes?

Si_Daniels's picture

Patty, I know its Friday, but can't you wait til 4:20 like everyone else.

pattyfab's picture

huh????

Linda Cunningham's picture

The sun's over the yardarm where she is, Si. ;-)

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