London 2012 vs Rio 2016

With the London 2012 Olympics drawing to a close, sporting focus will begin to turn to the Rio 2016 Games.


This weekend’s closing ceremony will offer us a chance to compare the identities for the two events, as the Rio 2016 identity is paraded in the London 2012 stadium as part of the handover.

This week we talked to Fred Gelli, creative director of Brazilian consultancy Tátil, which created the 2016 identity.

While noting how difficult it is to compare two different logos with different briefings and for different cities, he points out that the London 2012 identity, to his mind, fits in well with Britain’s reputation for cutting-edge cultural breakthroughs.

Lord Coe with the London 2012 Olympic identity

Source: LOCOG

Lord Coe with the London 2012 Olympic identity

And, he says, ‘Perhaps when you have an icon that is representing a cutting-edge and breakthrough culture then the rationale is more important and necessary than when you have an icon that is representing a culture that is very open and warm.’

Its certainly fair to say that the Rio identity – whatever you think of it aesthetically – seems to scream ‘Rio’.

It also seems, unlike London 2012, to fit much more neatly into the design narrative of recent Olympics logos – and the design rationale is clear and engaging.

The Rio 2016 Olympic identity
The Rio 2016 Olympic identity

But maybe what we had with London was something more challenging and more valuable, an identity that was a breakthrough and that summed up some of the things about London that we can be proud of (its youth, its energy, its innovative spirit) and some of the things were less proud of (its messiness, its brashness, the fact that – sometimes – it just doesn’t work).

Maybe with 2012, without really realising it, we had a logo that represents London in all its messy, dysfunctional, energetic and loud glory. And maybe that is how it will be remembered.

Hide Comments (9)Show Comments (9)
  • Noel Douglas November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    They are both appalling pieces of Design. They look like logos mades by marketing agencies not a graphic designer who knows what they are doing. The rio is beyond cliched and tacky. The London 2012 one is described by Olins as “unconventionally bold, deliberately spirited and unexpectedly dissonant, echoing London’s qualities of a modern, edgy city.” so it’s hardly like we ‘didn’t notice’ it was meant to be messy, dysfunctional etc…it’s just utter rubbish formally and leaves no impression – save for the feeling that someone at Olins is into MDMA and Nu Rave – no one seems to care about the graphic identity of these things really, maybe they’re just too corporate now, LOCOG have done their best to ignore the wishes of East Londoners, as they’ve gentrified around the stadium, vandalised our city in league with marketeers by putting this rubbish logo and typeface alongside all the Coke/McDonalds/Cadburys/Samsung ads literally everywhere sorry did we ask for our tube stations to be blighted by Coke ads? Turning Stratford into a tax haven so they could try offshore the profits before anyone noticed. No disrespect to the Athletes or those enjoying them, but the Olympics in not really about Sport anymore, it’s a Corporate festival that feeds like a parasite on it’s host city and cares little for the people who actually live there, aesthetically the London 2012 logo does the same.

  • papi bahal November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
  • Gene November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    If you analyze one key element of the the 2012 London Olympic Logo alone, the simple polygon shaped “0” in 2012, then something of a symbolic icon begins to emerge. If you envision that geometric form alone, especially as a three dimensional cubist form, it becomes a somewhat cohesive symbol of the London games. Connect that with the intersecting lines that form triangles, rhombus, pentagons, hexagons, octagons and simple polygon shapes which are used elsewhere, banners, on the gold medal, in the venues and you have a somewhat palatable solution. I’m surely no admirer of Wolff-Olin’s cutting edge logo, but in the end it may say more about how the client(s) perceive the work. In the end LOCOG’s Greg Nugent’s and Futurebrand’s One Look team did a heroic job of marketing and branding the event.

  • Emily Bagnall November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Noel, I find it hard to know what you think should have been done, a link to something you do like?

    I didn’t like london 2012 or the over-thinking involved, I do however instinctively like the Rio logo.

  • JB November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    How many people criticised the logo when they first saw it – the reaction it provoked, how many scoffed at the olympic mascots wenlock and mandevilles backstory – hideous they cried!…..after THAT opening ceremony it all seemed to make sense…It WAS different, it WAS bold – the Olympic branding seemed to have come together. I think there must’ve been a very clear vision and a very clear brief to be different and challenging in all aspects of the Olympics and I think it was a roaring success.

  • jack November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I think we can not compare the two logos as the London 2012 one has been deliberately thought totally out of any Olympic identity logic and therefore will be remembered forever!! the Rio2016 logo instead is a simple elaboration of 3d shapes (which u don’t really get in print) that respect all the classical characteristics of any other Olympic logo before: lots of colors, soft shapes, friendship…i mean..nothing special at all as opposite to the London one which was ALL special, like it or not!
    I think with Rio they could have done something way more memorable by inserting for instance the sery simple word RIO in the graphic.

  • Rob November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The Rio one is ‘ok’ but will be forgotten about.
    I think London 2012 will be talked about for a long time to come.

    As for “sometimes – (london)it just doesn’t work”
    Have you ever been to South America?

  • Chris November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I think the 2012 logo is terrible – the Games were great but that doesn’t excuse it! some of the applications were good however. The Rio logo reminds me of an anatomical 3D sculpture of somone’s privates… maybe Wally Olins for having big enough ones to think we’d believe all the sales guff!!

  • Wenlock November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Hi i am Wenlock the London 2012 Olympic Mascot I’m still wondering what the Rio 2016 Olympic Mascots look like I can’t wait to meet them! To say congratulations on winning the 2016 Olympic bid but i’m a bit concerned about the people turning the Olympic stadium of London into a football pitch i mean why can’t they leave it be so people remember the London 2012 Olympic Games
    and also to use it if London wins for example the 2026 Olympic Bid or the 2030 Olympic Bid.
    Do you know what i’m getting at?


  • Post a comment

Latest articles