The great logo debate

We’ve recently seen the launch of two major event logos – for the LA 2028 Olympics and the Osaka Expo 2025. The identities have received both jeers and cheers – here we examine why logos evoke such heated debate, and what it says about our relationship with design

Last week saw the release of the logo for the LA Olympic Games in 2028. With most of this year’s events – including of course the Tokyo 2020 Games – having been cancelled or postponed, the arrival of an identity for an event in eight years’ time was met with a surprising amount of excitement.

But then the release of a new Olympics logo – or in fact any major new rebrand – always leads to a lot of online debate. While many major pieces of design fail to raise the interest of anyone beyond the industry, logo design, especially in the age of social media, seems to hit the spot for a much wider audience.

The LA Olympics mark has followed quickly in the footsteps of another logo that has had mainstream coverage in recent weeks: the Osaka Expo 2025 identity, which captured attention with its “googly eyes”. Or is it depicting bouncing red blobs, tomatoes or a scrunchie? The online jury is out. What is clear is that a logo for another event taking place many years in the future has distracted us enough from the calamitous state of the present world to incite much discussion. It even prompted someone to reproduce it in the form of baked goods, which is surely the highest form of compliment that can be paid to a logo today.

The ability for logos to cut through like this is can actually be a source of discomfort for the design industry, however. While most would recognise that it’s a rare treat for design work to be acknowledged by the wider public, it can prove irksome too. One of the prevailing narratives from the industry is irritation that entire brand identities, with all the research and strategy that lie behind them, can get boiled down to simply the logo.