By Jonathan Gabay from Brand Forensics
Some six hours after a big glitzy computer and smiling celebrity aided world-wide re-brand launch of the 2012 London Olympics logo I sat in front of journalist from ITN news trying my very best to say something encouraging about the £400,000 new logo. “It’s supposed to appeal to kids,” prompted the interviewer.
“It’s meant to be ‘edgy’ - full of street credibility.” “Well”, I replied, “It certainly shows that London takes an unconventional approach to the games. I could even see it working as a dynamically animated logo - a bit like the Channel 4 logo.
However, the C4 logo has something that this doesn’t - It works equally well as static logo in print as it does as a focus point for animation on screen.
As for the notion that the logo is ‘in with de kids’ - maybe it’s Lord Coe’s attempt at designing a tag to be spray-painted throughout the capital?
After all, according to the reported brief to his agency - Wolff Olins, it is meant to deliver on the dual themes of ‘inspiration and participation’.”
Gold medal or wooden spoon?
If Lord Coe aimed to create controversy, he has picked up ‘gold’. However, if he wanted to appeal to a younger demographic, he may have been lulled into a sense of false security via one too many mood board presentations from his agency, Wolff Olins.
(According to the logo’s designers: "Its shape will be constant. Its style will give flexibility, inspiration and energy across every application. It is a powerful brand taking its place in a brand-savvy world. This includes a palette of colours, lines and shapes that create energy, inspiration and interest - and ensure our brand always stays fresh.") Hmmmmm…
A five-year-old logo - which looks like it was designed by a five-year old.
The logo, intended to last around five years, appears in fuzzy-felt style magenta, pink, orange and green. Described as some the UK press as something that could have been designed by a child, It is intended to form the colour scheme as part of the wider re-branding exercise.
Who knows, an agency as talented as the brilliant Wolff Olins, may gradually show us how the piece works as part of a clever branding exercise that can only be fully appreciated when seen as a whole.
Former Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis, noted: " The kids loved it but for some it's too bold. I guess it's a generation thing."
Be warned: ‘6666’
Chris Townsend, the commercial director of Locog said: "The idea of using the year as the logo came from the design agency. It's intended to make a big statement out of 2012 so that it lodges in people's minds like other dates such as 1066 and 1966."
In hindsight this design may turn out to be one in the eye for the British Olympic brand image. Any logo with substance needs to convey a brand’s sense of vision, value and meaning for its audiences.
Originally branding was about warning people to stay away from produce (think of the original American cowboy who ‘branded’ his cattle) today, logos need to suggest that people touch and hold onto the spirit and foresight suggested by a logo.
The spirit of a dark and distant past lingers
The last time London hosted the Olympic games was back in 1948. The country had just emerged from World War II.
Whilst its logo was perhaps too intricate for today’s ‘sophisticated’ minimalist tastes, it proudly featured both London and it’s era’s view of the Olympiad spirit.
Even the original London 2012 logo brilliantly combined the character of the Olympics with the nation’s pride running through the international recognised shape of the River Thames.
This new logo (which many have noted has the ring of the Swastika about it) tries too hard to be too many things to too many people, whilst in reality ending up as a lot of nothing in particular than what appears to be a middle-aged person’s attempt to be street-wise.
Fly the airline with handkerchief over its tail
Of course, playing art-nouveau games with treasured objects of national pride (or potential pride) isn’t new. I remember back in 1997 speaking to Simon Jones, then the Managing Director of Interbrand Newell and Sorrell.
“The tail design is far from the end of our design rationale British Airways’’ concept of world citizenship is visualised through a series of world images commissioned from international artists from different communities. The images are incorporated deeply throughout the airline’s brand communications.”
Neither Margaret Thatcher (who hastily covered a model of a BA jet sporting the new logo with her handkerchief) nor the British Public fully bought into the concept. After several thousand gallons of paint, the national airline’s fleet was eventually re-coated to display the Red White and Blue.
The Humpty-Dumpty logo
Similarly this week’s toying with the Olympic games has divided the nation with website blogs full of comments like: “They should have at least incorporated a syringe or a pound sign in there somewhere.”
To: “Being a designer myself just makes it even worse, knowing that in London there is a wealth of talent out there that is more than capable of producing something truly great and memorable”.
To: “Horrific. I can't believe the IOC has sanctioned this design”. And, “I'm sure Paris just breathed a sigh of relief.” Some bloggers even had a go at redesigning the logo for themselves.
On the upside, the new official logo does suggest a certain frisson reality of today’s London; a disjointed community which thanks to the application of judicial political spin, can indeed be re-united: albeit with the help of computer graphics and merry celebrity endorsements.
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