Hello everyone and welcome back! Over the break I had a lot of time to catch up on reading, past and current world events, and figure out how I feel about them. I was a tad behind to say the least.
The 2012 Olympics taking place in London this summer quickly caught my attention. I realized I hadn’t seen the finalized logo or any of the branded materials for it. I vaguely remembered that when cities were bidding for the Olympics to be held in their city, they each were working with a design studio(s) to come up with a preliminary identity and logo for their bid. I lost track of the proceedings after that, except that I knew that London had won. Yay London!
So I googled the new logo and BAM! There was content for miles and especially content on the controversy surrounding the logo. How had I missed this?? I had to catch up! There were two logos put out to the public by London that included a logo for the bidding process and then another one as a brand for the overall Olympic games. The bidding logo was completed by Kino Design. Their design utilized the Thames River, the major river running through London, to represent the city’s strength, energy and continual renewal. The city couldn’t be happier! The design was plastered onto everything: trains, buses, flags, merchandise, the city couldn’t get enough of it.
The second logo, for the overall brand of the Olympic games, as well as the Paralympics, was launched on June 4, 2007 and completed by Wolff Olins for the price of £400,000.00 which is roughly $613,376.00 USD. Yes, take a moment to comprehend that number. Wow… When asked about the logo he told reporters that it was meant to attract a younger crowd, since that has been lacking for several Olympic gatherings. Perhaps if tickets weren’t astronomical then a younger crowd could attend…but I digress.
The public was not happy. They didn’t like Wolff Olins’ logo at all. The BBC quickly held a poll and more than 80% of people gave it the lowest rating possible. The public even went on to say that it looked liked a distorted swastika, and even Iran made the public statement that the logo spelled the word “Zion” which they felt was racist and that they wished for the logo to be removed and the designers spoken to directly and disciplined. The international Olympic Committee rejected their demands and Iran backed down and left the issue alone.
While at the time London basically revolted (they historically have a lot of practice) at the thought of this logo representing them, in the years since they seem to have at least half-heartedly accepted it. I believe their rational selves have finally realized that it can’t be changed and won’t be changed. Millions of pounds have been spent on merchandise, structures, and millions of water bottles.
I had to admit, my first response was not a positive one. It seemed to lack some of the finesse and classicism that I usually associate with the Olympics, but they said they wanted something younger…I just wasn’t prepared for 5th grade again. However, as harsh as that might sound, I too have come around and I am semi-okay with it. I especially like the Union Jack version. With the abstract use of the British flag, well at least I get a glimpse of the classy vibe that once emanated from the Olympics. Design has always been controversial, mostly because of the message it carries, whatever that message might be. This logo carries not only the history, but the prestige of greatness that the Olympics have represented for a very long time. To design a logo to represent all of that is nothing less than daunting. So I tip my hat to all that were involved. Plus, don’t worry. We get a redo in four years.
2012 Olympics Final Logo for London Union Jack Version