June 5, 2007

Response to the London 2012 brand

Filed under: community, sport, web — Warren Hutchinson @ 8:32 am



That was the network effect in full, errrm, effect. At the time of writing some 11750 people have signed a petition stating:

We, the undersigned, call on the London Olympic committee to scrap and change the ridiculous logo unveiled for the London 2012 Olympics.

Whilst over on the BBC 606 website there have been some 2799 comments, and very few of them are complementary.

Now, before you carry on reading, I want you to go and watch these 2 videos. It will take a few minutes of your time. 5 max. Then we can carry on.

  1. Video 1 – An animation aimed at depicting the energy of the brand
  2. Video 2 – The ‘brand video’ aimed at depicting the qualities of the brand

Watched them…?

Good. Now we have a little context which most of the petitioners probably have no interest in attaining.

How do you feel?

Put aside the fact that the logo/lock-up/identity is super-crazy-manic and concentrate on how you feel about what you just saw.

Do phrases such as ‘rubbish’, ‘obvious’, ‘disgraceful’ and the like come to mind? Or do you feel a little bit charged, a little bit hopeful?

I’ve been working on this project since December and I’ve been working with the involved agencies and of course the London Organising Committee and I have to say that, for me, this brand works. Or at least it will work once we get past the initial cynacism and reaction. It embodies the energy, the vibrancy and the difference that this Olympic vehicle is hopefully going to be about and I’m writing this post as my way of saying to the teams I’ve worked with ‘Great job’.

It certainly inspired and stimulated a reaction, we’re all participating in this one and thanks to the network effect everyone is included.

The double-edged sword of web 2.0 in full swing.

Brands are not just logos of course, so today’s reaction is to an image. Further, I suspect that most people who have signed the petition or voiced their disapproval haven’t yet explored the story or the videos I’ve linked to and have been harbouring resentment ever since London won the opportunity to host.

It’s true that dissatisfaction and resentment always air more readily than satisfaction and support, but today did surprise me somewhat. I suspected that there would be a body of responses in the vein of ‘I don’t get it’, ‘My 5 year old could do better’, ‘What a waste of money’ etc because these things are always levelled at identities of this nature.

I wonder why people feel the need to expunge such vitriol when in doing so they are dismanteling the need for an emblem of hope, of change of being the best you can be, of being Olympic. It’s not about what it looks like, it’s about what it stands for and that’s what I think hasn’t yet been understood.

Over the next 5 years we’ll see exactly what this means, we’ll feel the experience of London 2012 and we’ll see change happen.

I’m hopeful. I’m confident. I’ve seen the people at London 2012 at work and I for one believe in their passion to do things differently.

But then, that is just my opinion and I’m just throwing my hat into the ring of network effect.

The company I work for didn’t develop the identity, we delivered the range of London 2012 websitea. But I say this not because I want to distance myself from the furor surrounding the identity but because actually I’m quite jealous that were not more closely aligned with this controversy. Our team have done a fantastic job in taking an incredibly challenging brand world and rolling it out as an accessible website given the logo, colour palette, typography and I think it achieves almost everything we wanted to.

It’s clear, legible, bright, energetic and engaging.

But I have to hold my hat off to the team at Wolf Olins and to Locog for trying something so daring, something so brave. Particularly given that in many sense as a design challenge developing Olympic brands is pretty much a poison chalice as everyone seems to love berating it, whatever has been done.

This is brave work particularly given how precious the Olympics is to people and particularly to Londoners at this present time.

Compare it to other Olympic marks of the past. They are dull, meaningless, formulaic and uninsprational, inunispiring, non-inclusive and not particularly stimulating.


Click here to see them close-up.

Beijing is the next host city and their identity is about celebrating China and about Chinese culture. A statement on their websites says:

Every emblem of the Olympics tells a story. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games emblem “Chinese Seal, Dancing Beijing” is filled with Beijing’s hospitality and hopes, and carries the city’s commitment to the world.

It’s all about Beijing and that kind of inward looking presentation wouldn’t befit London. Largely because London is a city of cultural diversity and is overtly outward facing but also beacuse London sees itself as a world stage. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very appropriate for Beijing. I like it, particularly the Fuva who are there to carry a message of friendship and peace — and good wishes from China — to children all over the world.

Argue the toss about whether or not this brand delivers that, but I say it delivers a statment of intent – that this is going to be different and that this is about taking part. You can say one thing, this has not been designed to sit smartly on a polo shirt or coffee mug. In the context of Olympic branding history it screams change.

Right on.

The brand story is about passion, inspiration, participation and stimulation.

I watch those videos and I feel that. I watched them with my wife and she felt that too. Idon’t mind saying that I felt emotional in a good way. It was lump in the throat stuff and I’m proud to be part of it.

By the time the Games arrives, everyone should fel proud because everyone will have the chance to join in.

I hope that everyone feels something when they see those videos and that they start to consider that this is an emblem for something and that bashing it is like bashing that person riding the bike, the granny and her karate, the kid and the horse.

Let the discussion continue.



  1. It reply to Warren Hutchison, it is not an emblem of hope and the future, it is an emblem of the past, despair and the SS. That is not SS as in Social Security but SS as in Schutzstaffel.

    Comment by Nicholas D Richards — June 5, 2007 @ 2:13 pm

  2. Mr D Richards – I think you’re talking about a swastika and not the new 2012 logo? Weirdo.


    I don’t think we can stop people commenting on just ‘the logo’ (not that that’s being suggested). That is, for most people, what a brand is. Rightly or wrongly.

    And that’s fine. The level of emotion and engagment being displayed is what makes design, particulalry brand design so exciting isn’t it? Great fun.

    Comment by fatbaldbloke — June 5, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

  3. Nice post Warren. It’s nice to read something level-headed and meaningful amongst all the vitriol.

    Wolf Olins call the new 2012 logo “Unconventionally bold, deliberately spirited and unexpectedly dissonant”. I like the commitment with which they have developed the brand. And I think they have achieved something good with the design of the logo itself. It’s a positive statement of intent for the games – a) it’s not just London’s games (hence 2012 as the logo), it’s a global event and b) its not just a 4 week event in August in 5 years time, its an ongoing series of actions that can inspire people (hence playing down the rings).

    “…it delivers a statment of intent – that this is going to be different and that this is about taking part.” I concur. I thought the brand animation was particularly evocative of something important and encompassing happening, something different.

    Comment by Andy Braxton — June 5, 2007 @ 11:52 pm

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