The Pymlico spirit

Designer Roy McCarthy’s alternative Olympics brand is for people who want to celebrate the Games in their homes, shops or pubs, without fear of infringing the usage laws of the official 2012 branding

Designer Roy McCarthy’s alternative Olympics brand is for people who want to celebrate the Games in their homes, shops or pubs, without fear of infringing the usage laws of the official 2012 branding…

On the BBC’s Andrew Marr show last weekend, Lord Coe was interviewed about the legislation relating to the use of the London 2012 branding. His remarks were later quoted by Owen Gibson in The Guardian in an article McCarthy read and was inspired to act upon.

Coe claimed that the legislation was essential “in protecting the sponsors who come to the table with a lot of money to help us stage these Games”. For McCarthy, while this remained an understandable attitude to take in regard to regulating the involvement of the event’s major sponsors, such a heavy-handed approach has already prevented much smaller businesses, not to mention ordinary individuals, from using any element of the Olympics identity in their celebrations.

McCarthy’s solution was to create Pymlico, a free-to-use brand kit featuring a logo, posters, and various supporting identities people could download and use to show their support for the Games.

His project is centred on a target design very similar to the one designer Daniel Eatock designed as part of his bid for the 2012 Olympics logo nine years ago. In response to the reaction to the official 2012 logo, designed by Wolf Olins, in 2007 Eatock also made his roundel design available as an alternative logo for the Games, which could be downloaded from his website as an eps file.

“I had done a design that was more similar to Eatock’s, with its distinct rings,” says McCarthy, “but as I was about to make the mock-ups I thought I should research it and check, which is when I found his design. So I took the white out and started again with a new design, which became the “LOOK HERE!” logo. I expanded the idea, including a circular version. Since publishing the idea a number of people have pointed out the similarities between the two logos, but I think the differences between the two are big enough to mean there won’t be any confusion.”

In addition to the icon denoting where Olympics coverage might be screened, McCarthy’s graphic device also works across a “HEAR HERE” radio-themed poster. “The aim is to combat something that could become a problem for people who want to show support,” he says. “I wanted to turn that into an opportunity to help people, rather than moan about it, to fight a negative with a positive. Someone on Twitter called it ‘a great piece of pragmaticism’ – that’s a nice thing to say.”


Pymlico posters could alert passersby to the fact that this pub is screening the Olympics

And unlike the official visual identity for London 2012 and the numerous brands which have a presence on posters, press ads and TV broadcasts, there are no restrictions on the use of the Pymlico brand.

“I see it as a way of putting posters up in windows and saying ‘we’re watching the Olympics’ without using the rings,” says McCarthy. “I suppose I want people to respect the needs of the official sponsors, and at the same time show that they don’t need to use the official branding, if it’s unavailable to them.”

How the Pymlico brand might look on a black cab

More on the Pymlico campaign at and on Twitter at @VivaPymlico.


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