There’s more to Olympics branding than just the logo

It was inevitable that the 2012 Olympics logo would attract flak. What public emblem hasn’t provoked concern about its appropriateness and the money that has been spent? It brings back fond memories of Mark Reddy’s strangely incongruous Millennium identity of 1998, commissioned by the Dome’s branding head Martin Lambie-Nairn.

Hence we read Stephen Bayley’s dismissal of Wolff Olins’ Olympics identity in The Times and hear cycling king Chris Boardman on Radio 4 saying he doesn’t feel sorry for the designers, despite the adverse comments, as they’d ‘done well out of it’. Meanwhile, there are cries of ‘missed opportunity’ within design, judging by comments on our website, Designers generally loathe it.

True, the 2012 logo isn’t an elegant solution, lacking the wit and flair a great designer, such as the late Alan Fletcher, would bring to it. As Michael Johnson wrote in The Guardian, it takes a different route from that of its predecessors. ‘Pick a vigorous style, cross your fingers and hope like hell that it’ll still be relevant in the next decade’ is how he sums the approach up, singling out the Tokyo 1964 and Munich 1972 Olympics marques as timeless classics.

It smacks of research run riot, as ‘grown-ups’ attuned to communications in the business community try to second-guess the kids we are told are the target audience. Will it be cool to sport the logo on your mobile phone? Probably not.

As ever though, reactions centre on the marque, when, in fact, Wolff Olins is responsible for applications of the identity across all platforms. Perhaps this time the industry should take the opportunity to explain, via the media, what branding entails and why focus on the logo obscures the debate.

And if a logo aims to raise awareness of the organisation it badges, then the 2012 marque is already a hit, the petition for change notwithstanding. Like it or not, it has reminded us that the Olympics are upon us – and that London has this one chance to get it right.

Lynda Relph-Knight, Editor

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  • Marc Jones November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Great editorial which pretty much sits close to my own view. Maybe London 2012’s logo won’t attract a wave of new athletes but instead spawn a few gold medal standard designers…

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