London 2012. Well, at least it doesn’t have Big Ben on it

London 2012’s “multimedia brand image” was unveiled today by Lord Coe, chairman of London’s Olympic committee. Designed by Wolff Olins the logo is, apparently, based on the four *ahem* brand pillars of access, participation, stimulation and inspiration. So-far-so-predicatable: but who would have guessed it would quite turn out… like this?

Olympic logo 2012

London 2012’s “multimedia brand image” was unveiled today by Lord Coe, chairman of London’s Olympic committee. Designed by Wolff Olins the logo is, apparently, based on the four *ahem* brand pillars of access, participation, stimulation and inspiration. So-far-so-predicatable: but who would have guessed it would quite turn out… like this?

In an accompanying and characteristically hyperbolic press statement, Lord Coe claimed that “London 2012 is inspired by you and it’s for all of you.” What he really means is that 2012 is aiming to become the Games of inclusivity – or “Everyone’s Games” as the brand vision has it – initially by having both emblems for the Olympic and Paralympic Games constructed from the same core shape.

Indeed, this shape (well, four shapes really) is so designed that it will work on a range of different media. It’s likely that in a further five year’s time, people will be accessing Olympic content on an even greater number of devices – thus, a shape, rather than a word marque, seems appropriate for a certain amount of transferability; at least on-screen.

But, aesthetically? Due to the recent exhibition and book, Otl Aicher’s scheme for the Munich 72 games is very much in the minds of today’s design community. It has become the benchmark for the heights that Olympic graphic design can achieve. And this seems to make the logo for London 2012 appear all the more shocking.

“They can expect quite a polarised reaction because it’s quite radical,” says Ciarán Coyle, MD of brand licensing company The Beanstalk Group, “and from a creative point of view, it will develop the debate. The design is very simple and that’s what’s different to the previous Olympic logos, where the city’s name and year are next to each other. Here, the focus is on the notion of ‘2012’. What’s interesting from a licensing perspective is that they can take this logo and put it on lots of different media. It needs to be downloadable, be visible on a phone, a website and so on.”

William Higham, futurologist and founder of Next Big Thing, suggests that a key issue for Wolff Olins was making the logo appeal to a wide range of different audiences. “It was important to make it flexible and appealing to audiences across the board,” he says. “The multi-cultural youth demographic was very important. They need something that they can adapt themselves and so user-generated content is coming in there. People are into the idea of having something that works on that level, something that suggests a ‘participatory Games’. When the event is broadcast there will more people there filming it on their phones, blogging about it. I don’t think it’ll date because it’s not tied to a particular font, or style – we still have to see it in context and get used to it. I think it will still have a vibrancy; it’s very bold.”

Bold is certainly one word for it. But we’ve encountered a few others during our our heated discussion here in the CR office and from emails coming in. One noted London designer contacted us to ask “Have you seen the 2012 logo? Fuck.” So here are some initial thoughts:

Pros
It’s original and brave.

It contains none of the following: Big Ben, bulldogs, crowns and assorted other royal paraphernalia, the Union Jack, cross of St George, Pearly Kings and Queens, abstract figures doing vaguely athletic things.

It will work across a range of media, which will be vital in 2012 when coverage of the Games will break over a range of formats – eg mobile phones, PCs.

Children will probably like it and, like Whitney, we believe that they are the future…

Anything that annoys the Evening Standard this much can’t be all bad

Cons
You can’t read it very easily.

It already seems outdated – New Rave may be very On Trend with the fashion world this season but this still has five years of life to live out.

It’s inelegant and brash (unlike the restrained beauty of, say, Aicher’s work for Munich in 1972) – and what does that say about London?

It looks a bit like something Neil Buchanan might have put together on Art Attack. And, as a result, graphic design will receive another pasting in the popular press. “How much? My kid could have done better…”

If you stare at it long enough, some dirty-minded bloggers have been saying, it kind of looks like Lisa Simpson giving someone a blow job

Let us know what you think.

Four 2012 logos

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