London 2012 font

Nick Job's picture

Much water has passed under the bridge since last Monday's London 2012 Olympics brand launch. I was quite surprised that no-one (well, only Tom Howe and belleisle made any reference to it) has really given the 2012 font any constructive criticism.

I think only belleisle commented, which probably says a great deal more about the controversial nature of the marque itself than of the choice of supporting typeface which was perhaps a secondary issue in most people's minds:

>>>The corporate typeface they have designed is just as bad, but in my anger I don’t have the will to address that yet.

Have you had a chance to chill yet? If you're anything like me, you're worryingly starting to like the marque, but you're annoyed that you do because, for wahatever reason, you feel like you really shouldn't and have been coaxed and lulled into it against your will because it's not fair that something that breaks so many rules (if rules really exist when it comes to design) can actually force its way into you affections, of which you were sure you were in control. And this is only a week on. And it scares you how much you may come to adore it because your heart tells you that, in an ideal world, love should be at first sight, not at the last. You argue that you only like it because you feel pity for it but then you remember that someone got paid a fortune for doing it and why should you feel sorry for a massive branding agency who have learned to tell people how to think, and always turn out to be right in the long run. And so you're eventually left with only one possibility: You love it because it is rather fine design. And then you will insist that you still hate it (because you think that it would be fickle to admit that you've changed your mind in less than a week). Admit it.

Anyway back to the font, here's a capture from the official website.

Get used to it, you're going to be seeing quite a bit of it in the next few months and years.

Anyone know what it is (Acrobat tells me it's '2012_BoldSIX') and who designed it? I find the circular O's and o's a bit irritating. I think the font (and the logo for that matter) may be patronising in this context. I'm not sure you engage young people by being condescending to give them a look they can 'identify with'. Doesn't wash. It might succeed in making old people feel young again but that's because old people aren't as smart as young people.

Yes that really is an fi ligature lurking in there.

I'm guessing the brief was to get it to complement/echo the marque, jagged and contemporary but having to include/shoehorn in the classical circular rings somehow. Clumsy I'd say, but they got paid for their font which is more than I've ever done.

Anyone know any classic fonts that are patently British with circular O's? Hmmm.

sim's picture

It's amazing, while the typeface is all slant, the o seems to be a roman style.

sihep's picture

I’d imagine the circular 'O' was supposed to be a reference to the 5 hoops in the olympic logo. Don't feel it works that well, though.

HaleyFiege's picture

It hurts to read a long paragraph in this font. It doesn't flow well enough. The whole thing seems really rushed.

aluminum's picture

"Have you had a chance to chill yet? If you’re anything like me, you’re worryingly starting to like the marque, but you’re annoyed that you do because, for wahatever reason, you feel like you really shouldn’t and have been coaxed and lulled into it against your will because it’s not fair that something that breaks so many rules (if rules really exist when it comes to design) can actually force its way into you affections, of which you were sure you were in control."

Reminds me this Statler & Waldorf bit:

STATLER: Boo!
WALDORF: Boooo!
S: That was the worst thing I’ve ever heard!
W: It was terrible!
S: Horrendous!
W: Well it wasn’t that bad.
S: Oh, yeah?
W: Well, there were parts of it I liked!
S: Well, I liked alot of it.
W: Yeah, it was GOOD actually.
S: It was great!
W: It was wonderful!
S: Yeah, bravo!
W: More!
S: More!
W: More!
S: More!

As for the typeface, not sure if it was intended or not, but it does have a bit of an 'ancient Greece' vibe to it.

hrant's picture

I like the font! Novel, dynamic and edgy.
And it seems to have been made by an actual type designer.
Maybe it was Miles?

I agree that the "o" is a bit jarring, although not as much as I might have thought before seeing it in a setting. BTW, Gill Sans has a very circular "o", and it's hard to get more British than that!

hhp

Nick Job's picture

>>>Gill Sans has a very circular “o”, and it’s hard to get more British than that!

After nearly 75 years, someone's decided it's past it. Not before Greece used it for 2004 though. Good enough to use twice in a row? I would have thought so.

William Berkson's picture

The font, like the mark, is inappropriate. It is trying too hard to get attention, screaming for attention. The whole thing is like an ad for a children's television program, or for candy for children, and that's not the Olympics.

The Olympics is big fun, but there is also a sense of history and grandeur about it. A great mark and the typography combined will get both joy and grandeur. The multi-colored rings do succeed at that. There is an aura about the Olympics, the 'Olympic Spirit'. Both this mark and its typography totally miss out on it.

It is as if the designer thought dignity and respect for the hard work of the athletes, and the celebration of multi-national cooperation is 'not cool' and should be avoided.

I think that is the reason for the anger. If you think the concept of the Olympic spirit is horsesh*t, that is your privilege. But to do a mark that contradicts the positive emotional meaning of the Olympics is bad design, and a huge missed opportunity.

By comparison, look at the Olympic logo of the upcoming Chinese Olympics:


.
It manages to have dynamism and a sense of fun, but gets in both the reference to history, the Chinese location--by using the Chinese 'seal' style logo and brush writing of the words--and a sense of dignity given by the symmetry and the 'foundation' position of the multicolored rings. There may be better Olympic symbols, I don't know, but this is quite well done.

hrant's picture

I think you have to remember that this is in Britain: they're always up to their nostrils in "grandeur", "dignity", etc. They need a break - to loosen up a bit! And preferably via something not involving alcohol...

BTW, I loved the Chinese one too - but Keith Tam insists it's weak.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>Keith Tam insists it’s weak.

The design as a whole does have some weaknesses. It is a bit staid, and the brush lettering is slightly awkward as Roman. But the running man is brilliant. And now I read that it also reads 'jing,' 'capital' in Chinese, alluding to the location Bei Jing (literally, 'northern capital'), so that is awfully clever as well, making the mark multilingual. The three parts, which work on their own and together, are also very nice.

Maybe if you read Chinese the running man as character to be read looks forced; I'm afraid I'm blind to that dimension of the design.

hrant's picture

> the running man is brilliant.

I thought so too - but Keith's complaint
was actually specifically about that, IIRC.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>specifically about that

I suspect than that Keith Tam's issue may, as I noted, be how it 'reads' as the Chinese character 'jing'--which is beyond those of us who don't read Chinese characters.

hrant's picture

Sure, but good design does not leverage ignorance.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

Here's what I was able to find on line of early Chinese criticism of the 2008 logo:

"many Chinese gave voice to their disapproval on-line, saying that it was: too much Beijing-centered (!); it was offensive because it resembled a kneeling man with a hat on his head begging; that it looked like a spastic thumbprint, a soggy penis and so forth."

Now there are articles saying the London logo is making most Chinese very happy with their own. That is government-controlled press, though.

hrant's picture

> government-controlled press, though.

Yeah, we're so lucky to instead have a press
controlled by a suffocating plutocracy...

hhp

Jon Sleeman's picture

Back to the font.

I think its awesome!! Modern, with loads of character and impact.

Maybe the 'o' is a reference to the olympic rings, which I think would be quite cool.

Still not sure about the logo, but time will be the ultimate judge.

KenBessie's picture

Is there a problem with the lc t? It seems to have one ink well (is there a better term now that we are using digital type?) where the right arm meets the stem.

Jon Sleeman's picture

Seems very odd, maybe its the screen or a technical thing that I'm not aware of. I've just looked at a printed verson from a newpaper and its visible on that also.

hrant's picture

"Trap" is a good term, but that can't be what that is.
For one thing, it's on the corner that needs it least...
Maybe it's to make it less like a cross? Especially with
it being in England...

Are there any better/comprehensive samples out there?

hhp

hrant's picture

Hey, on their site, including the "make your own" PDF* the "t" is fine...
And the PDF is showing an "fi" ligature, as opposed to the image above.

*
http://www.london2012.com/joinin/create/design-template-london2012com.pdf

hhp

KenBessie's picture

Just been to their website and the two words using their font have better t's.

BTW: "Trap" means something else in my little world of printing.

[edit: Hrant, you got there ahead of me ;_) I should have been typing faster.]

hrant's picture

Yes, in fact in that PDF the crossbar of the "t" is actually tilted, whereas it's flat in the image above... But the text is the same, so I assume Nick made his image by doing a screengrab of a similar PDF... So I think it seems safe to say that the font is not really finished yet - in fact it seems to be changing real-time!

> “Trap” means something else in my little world of printing.

Yes, I know. As I observed recently in another
thread, terminology depends heavily on context.

hhp

belleisle's picture

Blimey Nick, just what the design forums needed a thread about the Olympic Logo, I was hoping to get some work done this week!

But seriously...

One week on, a couple of interesting points that I have read.
1. Someone, somewhere commented about how, if the logo had been designed by a competition amongest schoolchildren we would all be loving it. Fair point.
2. If the Muinch 72 logo had been proposed would there have been the same outcry.
In my opinion no, Munich72 has all the qualities that make a good logo. Namely a basic sense of balance and proportion etc etc. The general public subconsciously appreciate good asethetics when they see it. (the ipod?)
3. The design was a closed brief at WO that included only 10 people producing he work!
Can't help think they should have asked a few more professionals for an opinion on such a grand project.

As for the typeface.... not for me.

aluminum's picture

"Can’t help think they should have asked a few more professionals for an opinion"

You think MORE opinions would have made a project on the scale of the Olympics logo go smoother? ;o)

belleisle's picture

I know your joking...

I meant before it was made public, so various people would'nt have have to lose face by changing it. To many egos involved now, we are stuck with it.

I mean ten people working in a closed environment on a project this scale, they would have pumped themselves up into such a design frenzy of self congratulation that they would have reckoned on 'having a go' at that outdated Sistine chapel next.

hrant's picture

The Munich font sucks.

hhp

miles's picture

can't believe no-one has identified the font use for the 20-12 yet.

hrant's picture

You mean "got" as in understood, or got a copy of? :-)
If it's the former: Is it a person running?

So is it your work Miles?

hhp

miles's picture

NOT ME!
edited my post for clarity.

Ralph's picture

A terrible font. Reminds me of antedeluvian Viking runes.

Linda Cunningham's picture

Careful, or a man wearing a very large helmet with horns sticking out of it will complain about being discriminated against.... ;-)

hrant's picture

I love those Geico "caveman" commercials!

BTW, Miles is telling me this is based on the work of a certain
famous 20th century architect... But I won't say who, since
he seems intent on keeping your gears spinning.

hhp

Alessandro Segalini's picture

Tell us !
Did Lord Sebastian Coe run a FontLab script ?

Jem's picture

From:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6719805.stm

"THE WORD 'LONDON' & OLYMPIC RINGS
The designers deliberately avoided using sporting images or pictures of London landmarks. Instead the capital city's name is written in lower case.

The objective in resisting an iconic image was to emphasise that while the Games is hosted in London, it is not just for London, but also for the UK and for the world.

Putting London in lower case and in cartoon writing is a "disgrace" to the city, says Mr Autry, and there's an imbalance in having the word London and the Olympic rings both in the top half of the logo.

"The word London is in an inelegant font, which devalues London as a city," he adds. "It looks like a child's writing."

The font is called 2012bold and has been designed specifically, says corporate graphic designer Simon Murray.

"The style of a handwritten font helps to carry through the contemporary theme. It is quite refreshing that they have used a font that is completely unrelated to the standard Johnston typeface used on tube maps and generally associated with London."

wormwood's picture

I'm not bothered about the crap 2012 identity now that I've finally realised the obvious...

...it's going to be 'consumed' by sports fans. Rarely the best arbiters of good taste.

Jackie Frant's picture

http://www.g3l.com/b3ta/olympiclogo.gif

courtesy of another type forum I love to hang out in!

Linda Cunningham's picture

Brilliant, Jackie, utterly brilliant.

Wrong colours though.... ;-)

Jem's picture

I think the swastika parody is
kinda lame, don't you think?

I would rather see the 2012 incorporated into a WHAM LP.

hrant's picture

Especially since it involves the UK, a deeply pro-Jewish society.

hhp

Randy's picture

My first impression is that the type is an ugly mess. That said, in the hands of a skilled designer, ugly type can create a very strong brand. I'm looking forward to seeing how it's used. The results could be great. -- R

William Berkson's picture

>ugly mess. ...The results could be great.

This reminds me of the story of a drunk Winston Churchill, who encountered a lady on the street.

"You, sir, are very, very drunk."

"And you, madame are very, very ugly. I shall be sober in the morning."

Somehow I don't think this one is going to be better in the morning :)

Nick Shinn's picture

“Can’t help think they should have asked a few more professionals for an opinion”

Right, a focus group of professionals is always a good idea.
Especially if you have something expensive that doctors or lawyers might buy.

Jan's picture

> ugly type can create a very strong brand.

Sounds clever. Can’t think of an example, though. Great quote anyhow.

Jem's picture

I have always thought the Westinghouse logotype was ugly in a good way (especially the "sting")

Jan's picture

As I understand it the london 2012 font is going to be more than just a logotype.

aluminum's picture

"Sounds clever. Can’t think of an example, though."

Easy companies?

http://www.easyeverything.com/

Jan's picture

You don’t like Cooper Black?

Jem's picture

"As I understand it the london 2012 font is going to be more than just a logotype."

I think the Westinghouse logotype was developed into a typeface.

Tell's picture

The Westinghouse logo was developed into a face. Westinghouse Gothic. I have a pic somewhere...

Randy's picture

Ugly type can create a very strong brand.
- - -
Sounds clever. Can’t think of an example, though.


also these guys make very funky type look good (the link is the best sample I could find of the type, but I mean the ad series):
http://www.newzealand.com/northamerica/
It helps that it is a beautiful country.

Lets not derail.

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