Good try – now get the implementation right

The London Olympics 2012 symbol is original, contemporary, dynamic, distinctive, edgy and flexible – everything it should be. Clearly, the initial reaction to it has been overwhelmingly negative, perhaps due to the ineptness of its launch. I cannot remember such a brand furore since Wolff Olins launched the ‘prancing piper’ identity for BT in the 1980s. The real issue about the new identity seems to be whether it is appropriate for both the Olympic movement and London 2012.

A brand only exists in the mind of its audience, and a logo is merely its visual manifestation, and as such should trigger the required emotional response in the people that come into contact with it. The initial message I receive from this logo is one of brashness, fragmentation and aggression – almost as if it is a cartoon image of an exploding grenade – more appropriate to the National Front than a national event. Whether this will attract high-spending visitors to our restaurants and hotels, or a football mob, we shall see.

However, it is how these graphic elements are used that is really the issue. A fantastic example is the way that Nike has taken a modest symbol – the tick – and implemented it with such imagination and life, to become one of the most recognised global brands. Implementation rather than design is where most effort and expenditure should be made when creating a logo for such entities. Conversely, seeing how the National Front and football hooligans have hijacked the George Cross and the Union Jack may be a portent of what is to come.

Sebastian Conran, Director, Conran & Partners, London SE1

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