london 2012 logo: a friend request

10 06 2007

I like it.

The newly unveiled official logo of the 2012 London Olympics isn’t perfect: It’s a bit too fragmented. I agree with one comment I read that suggested the logo evokes a map of London’s boroughs, harshly divided. So I would like to see the four sections being a bit less opposed to each other, and that funny little block in the centre merged into the others in a more harmonious fashion. And I’m not sure about the placement or the font of ‘London.’

Otherwise, I like the thinking behind it: to avoid the obvious.

The outcry has been every bit as predictable as the proposed alternatives. Showing admirable journalistic rigour, most of the major papers (The Standard/Metro, the free gossip rags that litter the Tube, the Sun, and more) just recycled the user-generated content from the BBC’s website, which were, almost without exception, rubbish.

This week’s Coventry Telegraph featured a double-page article titled ‘Proof that a child can do better’. While the children came up with an admirable showing, they were all as predictable as the BBC readers’ efforts: lots of Union Jacks and London landmarks. Nothing wrong with that, you cry. I’m not suggesting for a second that the Union Jack should be kept off the logo because of nationalist associations. I just agree with the thinking behind the official logo that the Union Jack, Tower Bridge et al are just too literal.

As Sebastian Coe said, this logo is not a corporate brand. Almost all of the general public’s attempts have been literal, obvious, corporate brands. I thought Coe’s comment about avoiding polo shirts for doing the gardening in was quite self-aware for the Olympic folks in charge. With such politicians and corporate branding wonks, high-handed talking shop beaucratese of ‘engaging’ with the public is rarely coupled with meaningful action.

So by coming up with something that eschews the knee-jerk, lowest common denominator London landmark approach, the creators are challenging the public to think about the Olympics as a contemporary, exciting event.

Just look at previous logos: worthy, tasteful, respectable… and dull dull dull. So if they are a distillation of the Olympics, what does that say about the proceedings? I find athletics in general to be reaaally boring, but I like this logo.

And for anyone still clinging to the dream of a London landmark/Union Jack-related logo, look at the symbol of the last British Olympiad. Big Ben and the Olympic rings. Very worthy. Very tasteful. Very Respectable.

Very 1946.

Of course, I can’t ignore the elephant in the room: the small matter of the £400,000 bill. Which is by anyone’s standards, ludicrous. But the contrarian in me (who has had pretty much free reign over this post) can’t help asking:

What price great design (whether this is an example of it or not)?

A tasteful logo featuring the Olympic rings on a Union Jack might have appeased middle England, but would it have sold any T-shirts? What if the £400,000 gamble pays off?

Christ, I’m not even convincing myself on this one. £400 grand? You’re having a laugh. Selling all the T-shirts in the world wouldn’t redress this slap in the face to everyone involved in cash-strapped grassroots sport in this country. Hell, the world.

But I still like it. Kind of. Bring on the MySpace Olympics.

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18 07 2012

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