2012 Logo: Lance Wyman says “give it a chance”

Along with Aicher’s work for Munich 72, another classic year for Olympic graphic design was Mexico 68, the logo for which was created by US designer Lance Wyman. His concept was radical – it hinted at Op Pop while embracing the vernacular visual culture of the host city – and, like London 2012, it was essentially a graphic stamp, rather than a traditional image with accompanying city name, rings and year. We asked Lance what he thought of the London 2012 work.


Along with Aicher’s work for Munich 72, another classic year for Olympic graphic design was Mexico 68, the logo for which was created by US designer Lance Wyman. His concept was radical – it hinted at Op Pop while embracing the vernacular visual culture of the host city – and, like London 2012, it was essentially a graphic stamp, rather than a traditional image with accompanying city name, rings and year. We asked Lance what he thought of the London 2012 work.

“The London 2012 logo has been presented with promising descriptive text but besides the date, I don’t think the logo itself attempts to reference anything of significance,” he says. “It has certainly aroused a lot of critical references, from grade school paper cuts to porno.

“My gut feeling though is to give the logo a chance, he continues. “It has a recognisable, brash character and might offer an open book of application possibilities that will keep it fresh into 2012. 

“I remember, in the early stages of designing of the Mexico Olympic program, a Swiss journalist commented that the Mexico68 logo didn’t work because it wasn’t very legible. It really frightened me but I knew what we had in mind and stuck with it.”

It’s now one of the most famous Olympic logos ever designed. Will London 2012 follow suit if we give it time?

1968 poster
1968 work
  • rob duncan

    I have to say I was as shocked as everybody when I first saw the logo. Being a British designer working in America, most people here didn’t know London had the 2012 Olympics, but they do now. The internet and news stations are full of the controversy surrounding the logo. There wasn’t this much coverage when London announced it had won the 2012 Olympics. Had the logo been very safe then most people around the world would still be non the wiser.

    I’m sure once the logo is applied to various applications people will grow to like it, maybe this was an amazing piece of brand strategy from Wolff Olins. Everybody around the world is talking about it and everybody now knows London has the 2012 Olympics!

  • designtrotter

    I have only some doubts with the colours, but the Logo works very well, the typo is well constructed, it is balanced, it has a different style from the old and boring one (with exception of past editions memorable masterpieces of course), you can easily remember it, it is young and not the usual boring icons, I think people needs time to understand it.

    Enza Morello

  • I have to say I’ve warmed to the logo. I think its brash and dynamic, and could be the foundations of a very strong overall visual identity. I agree with mr Wyman. Give it a chance.


  • Its been frustrating seeing a piece of design slammed so hard when in fact there has been a careful amount of future proofing applied to this logo. No one knows what we will find pleasing on the eye in 5 years time as such I think the designers should be applauded for their daring solution.

  • andrew barnum

    The Lance Wyman identity was bold because it cleverly combined Mexican folk art motif (see eye magazine article) with the op art that was evolving from the mid 60s internationally. Cultural and graphic. You can’t really compare the 2 IDs. Sure the 2012 ID has created reaction and is bold and energetic in animation but I find it hard to see much national identity in it…sure London is a multi-cultural street hub but I don’t get any deeper cultural connection. I’ve always seen the Olympics as an opportunity for the host to express an identity in its evolving sports and cultural life . This feels very now , but what about later on? We’ll all just shut up and watch I’m sure.

  • keith stephenson

    Nonsense Wolff Ollins are a bunch of charlatans who take so much money from their clients and create the biggest, ugliest mistakes – gives branding and design a bad name. A great logo should not have to be explained. Lance Wyman i think was being kind – he is an amazing designer and still doing what he loves.

  • I’m not so sure this logo has the legs to last until 2012. It’s very trendy in 2008 to hark back to the 80’s with bright neon colours and sharp angles. What’s trendy now could well be very dated in four years time. It’s like house music in 2008. It was very cool and mainstream in 2000 and we all danced like it was 1977, come 2004 no-one was interested. I’m hoping that this logo will work in 2012, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. Then again, it’s so “out there” now, so maybe I would bet on it.

  • RTDB

    I think this is hilarious! I bet he had to sit in a meeting explaining this design for about 3 or 4 hours before he was able to convince his clients to pay him. I do agree that style in 2012 will change, but i also agree that good design never requires an explanation. Let’s face it, if it were good people would still be talking about it, but not because it needs a harsh critique.

  • Mr Dee

    Mexico 68 = Mexican vernacular / op-art
    London 2012 = Shoreditch neo-rave / lisa simpson gone bad


  • Rocco

    Creo que ambos son avanzados y atrevidos en sus momentos, y ese es el punto del diseño: inovacion, identificacion, que se vuelven CLASICO.

    I think that both are advanced and creative in their time of each one. and that is the point of the design: innovation, identification that becomes in CLASSIC

  • 2012 = SS

  • I don’t mind the style of the logo at all… its just that the 0 looks like Australia…

    Is it a coincidence the Nectar card was designed by an Australian?

  • gold

    Linkbits 06.28.07 « p2p Capital
    28/Jun/07, 1:58 pm said:
    “[…] Although everyone hates the new London Olympics logo, the 1972 Munich logo was worse. […]”

    you must be smoking crack. Munich’s olympic graphics were by far the most sophisticated and well developed to this day. Look how the logo integrates with the rest of the graphic materials.
    Check out:


  • RTDB

    Munich is undeniably genius. Even designers in its era saw it as brilliant.

    The 2012 just looks ridiculous. it is a bad 1980’s sleeveless sweatshirt throwback that required little thought and even less execution.

  • gabriel

    hello: I am mexican born in 1966, two years before the 68 olympics. some times I think; if the travel machine could exist i would like to travel to those glorious days in mexico. that time was the end of one of the best times in my country. In Mexico this olimpics games looks like a pretext for the political things that hapend that days, It´s a shame we never will belive in what we are able to do.

  • Perdonen el francés pero que mierda de diseño de logo para unas olimpiadas, caray los ingleses tan estiraditos y que salgan con semejante mamada!!
    Saludos de parte de un diseñador mexicano.

  • Jus Devon

    being a young british designer, the london 2012 olympics logo represents everything i hate. this is representing british design to the world. it has no meaning behind it. ive just finished writing a paper on the 1964 tokyo olympics poster design. this further highlighted wolff olins lack of creativity and skill. the logo has no meaning behind it. graphic design is being able to create meaning is it not? and it seems that there is a particular type of older designer who is saying that the logo is good but i fear it is because they assume the younger generations can relate to it. that we can not. the type face is awful. hideous. its an ever increasingly painful sight. i recently went to the dieter rams exhibition at the design museum. there is a quote whiich essentially says good design is, amongst other things, not fashionable, it is long lasting. that, this logo is not.
    the mexico 68 should not be compared with this appalling mess.

  • Munich, Mexico and Montreal were all at the apex of Olympic logo design, I think, and I agree they can’t be compared with the clunky composition and meaninglessness of the London logo. I don’t think I’ll ever warm to the London graphics. The colours I can live with; it’s the lack of relationship between the weak typeface and the pink shapes and Olympic rings, the imbalanced and unsatisfying (to me) level of spacing between the shapes and the white space they’ve just all too cutesily vacated, the confusion of the shapes themselves (what the hell are they, and why do they so completely lack any inner necessity?), the uninteresting relationship between foreground and background, and the predominantly commercial graphics feel. It has a low-range department store feel, rather than a non-commercial, national feel. This may have been the point, but what’s the point of that point?
    Montreal: http://blog.ounodesign.com/2008/11/18/official-montreal-76-olympics-poster-that-would-never-pass-a-committee-now/
    Munich: http://blog.ounodesign.com/2010/02/19/munich-olympics-graphics-1972/
    Mexico: http://blog.ounodesign.com/2010/02/20/mexico-olympics-1968/

  • Blades Gang

    Its supposed to be ugly, thats the point.
    The point of the point is discourse.
    Scroll up, check and mate.

  • Charlie

    I think the logo is great. It is unconventional both in the sense of what Olympic logos have done in the past and in terms of what the design so-called intelligentsia think is right or wrong at the time it was revealed (three years now… wow). Having said that, it does owe a lot to the “new rave” scene which is now no longer in existence. But having said that, the logo does still stand up today – it is eye catching, memorable and exciting and I think it will serve the games well.

  • But what is “ugly,” Blades Gang? And is this the promotion of discourse, or just lazy and idle provocation? I’d say don’t just act out; make an intelligent intervention in aesthetics. This just looks cynical, a cheap and plastic reminder of what graphic design style looked like under Reagan and Thatcher. This is going to promote discourse? What will that discourse consist of? People throwing triangular pink plastic earrings at each other? And what does it have to do with London?

  • Dey

    That’s the first time I see the new Olympics’ logo design, and my first thought was “oh! I can see the continents in it” something that’s good probably if they tried to use rounded corners or use another colours, but as Lance Wyman says, give it a chance, probably in the events we’re gonna see more variations of the same logo, hope more colours to demonstrate the cultures and of course the same art.

    Now I’m so curious to see the iconography they’re gonna use in 2012 😀

  • Bo Davis

    Well I laughed out loud at the 2012 logo when it was revealed. I don’t laugh at it anymore… I just don’t.

    It’s definitely striking, but then so is a lightning bolt. Which is not too dissimilar to what the logo looks resembles.
    I can acknowledge the argument that it’s risqué and boundary pushing but for me it’s naive and ugly.

    I’d love to see the alternatives submitted by Wolff Olins.

    Bo Davis / StudioSeven

  • A logo must speaks for itself. We think the London one is a total mistake, so sorry to say this, part lion king, part hercules. A missed opportunity, and to se the beautiful work ok Lance Wyman the poorness of the London one is highlighted.

  • I still think the 68 logo is ‘uglier’, and Munich 72’s hardly makes much sense, as stylish as it is. People develop nostalgic attachment to these as they age that outstrips their ‘logic’ as idents. London 12’s biggest mistake is over-reliance on the garish pink tho (the most provocative colour?).

  • Michael Lakey

    They stole it from Michael St.Marks London Dada work ” Infinitude II” Jan 2006

  • Alfredo Wong

    Im a Graphic Design Student, and i think controversy in design always will be…

    Design: For me… got all the visual weight it needs, it´s Dynamic and Sporty

    Colors: I seeing that fashion of colors it´s returning, I don´t know if the world just does´nt realize that, and I think in most of the cases we as Designers got to be brave sometimes instead of technic, that´s where the new things came from brave people with a new side of view.

    In response to Michael Lakey, and with all the respect… you can´t say…. “They stole it from” at least the design it´s the same, we as designers got a need to SEE all kind of things, pictures, combination of colors, forms, art, and etc. so we can ABSTRACT and then use it graphically.

    What does the people needs to see? LONDON 2012 in stripes?….. I see it somehow “techno design” same as the pets. It´s a NEW contemporary olimpic design… In my opinion, i realize the concept.

  • When I first saw the 2012 logo I wasn’t completely sold, but given time it’s grown on me and a few others judging by some of the comments on here and elsewhere and I think that say’s a lot about this boisterous little upstart.

    It’s different, in your face, not at all bland and frustrates the hell out of some people. Well if that doesn’t sum London up I don’t know what does?

    The fact is the haters are always gonna hate, it’s almost becoming a default setting with some designers on here. I’m still yet to hear a proper well constructed argument against it, or one that isn’t a little bit spiteful, or offers up a better solution that doesn’t just rip off the aforementioned Mr Wyman’s designs.

    Look Mexico and Munich identities stand out yes, but as an industry we’ve got to get over it and stop looking backwards through rose tinted glasses. Design is as much about what’s to come as what has been.

  • I recently discovered that some of my (international) students had not recognised the numerical aspect of the design, and had assumed it was an abstract map that over emphasised the UK (the top left number 2) and greatly diminished or neglected to include other countries/continents. It was this political reading that lead to their hostility towards the design. When they read the design as the much more benign date, they appraisal of it changed also.
    I am fascinated by their account, as I had assumed it was fairly obvious that the design was the numerals 2012, albeit ones that had been directed by numerous connotations. Was it just them, or are there other similar accounts?

  • It hearkens back to Punk, an energetic overthrow of music and design, some thirty five years ago. London always has to prove it’s innovative and I love that. But I don’t love this. The colors seem to have been given no thought, just to push the clash of the design along. The shapes of the year appear hastily thrown together. Good at the sketch stage. The name “London” and the olympic symbol are slapped into the available space that will accommodate them. This is a 1975 record sleeve! Not a speck of sophistication.