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2012 logo: 10 years on

Wow, has it been 10 years since the uproar when the London 2012 logo was launched? We cynical Brits had plenty to say at the time, and opinions spewed forth from many sources, unsolicited.

Designed by Wolff Ollins at a reported cost of £400,000 at the time of its launch in June 2007, London 2012 organising committee chairman Lord Coe said: “It won’t be to be eveybody’s taste immediately but it’s a brand that we genuinely believe can be a hard working brand which builds on pretty much everything we said in Singapore about reaching out and engaging young people, which is where our challenge is over the next five years.”

Looking back at the logo now, along with the warm, fuzzy memories of what life was like that 2012 summer; when everything felt possible, our cynicism quashed by the joy of seeing our capital aglow with a sense of harmony and cheerfulness that is not seen on the day-to-day commute; the medal haul that made us proud; the Paralympics that was given equal billing as the main Games; you can see that it’d be expected that nostalgia may have softened our feelings for the bold identity.

Approaching the anniversary of the logo’s release, I thought it might be an interesting exercise to see how perception of the logo has weathered amongst our diverse community of designers, thinkers and enthusiasts here at TT towers.

Aidan Brennan – Creative Leader

I remember it well. We all gathered around a computer in the studio in astonishment. For a bunch of chin-stroking designers who are always ready to proffer an opinion at the drop of a hat. But there was an unexpected stunned silence as we tried to process what we were seeing. Once the initial shock of the new was over, it soon became clear how divisive the new logo was going to be. Especially as the critics started weighing in.

I seem to recall I kinda liked it straight away. Not in its own right, but for its sheer gall and uncompromising modernity. It was distinct, unique and entirely appropriate for the spirit of the Games – to “inspire a generation”. It felt entirely appropriate for a logo that was future thinking to look progressive and not steeped in the postcard heritage or Ye Olde London Towne. At the time I saw huge potential in it and was delighted it was unexpected and very different from previous Games logos, and seemed to be deliberately positioned to challenge old accepted perceptions of London and the UK. From the very beginning I saw a huge potential for the logo filtering out into the entire graphic language of the games. And they did a great job making that happen, from the typeface, signage, livery, ticket design to the mascots. All born out of the edginess and quirkiness of the logo.

A contemporary design classic that was much maligned at first, and then slowly and surely accepted as a beacon for the next generation. It came to represent the spirit of the Gamesmakers, who did so much to sideline the naysayers in favour of a wave of unexpected and heart-warming positivity that seemed to flow throughout the entire city for those memorable weeks in 2012.

 Sally Tarbit – Client Services Director

I was horrified when I first saw the 2012 logo! It looked fragmented, garish and disjointed – I actually felt slightly ashamed that this was considered to be the best icon to embody one of the UK’s finest moments. But, as the Games unfolded, I began to change my mind. It was everywhere, and everywhere it appeared something good was happening – people were celebrating, achieving, coming together and feeling proud. The logo became associated with that in my mind, and stood for all those good things – so the fact that it was playful, bright and energetic made it somehow right.

 Kat Anastasiou – Senior Project Manager

When the logo was first released, I remember looking at it and thinking,”meh”.

At that time, I had no idea I would end up working on a 12-month contract where every single deliverable would be emblazoned with that logo! And unsurprisingly, through many, many months of painful approval processes with LOCOG, I started looking at it quite differently.

Now, when I see the logo, it makes me smile. It was a tough time, but the logo brings back some of the funnier memories of how we made it through the pain. And of course, the Lisa Simpson thing.

 Dan Dufour – Brand Strategy Director

I remember the vocal criticism when the 2012 logo was released- in my experience there is often a journalist waiting to write a story about how much a ‘logo’ cost, ignoring the fact that a brand is much more than a logo without appreciation of the time and skill required to create a flexible and coherent visual identity system.

As for the logo itself, I liked the way it was dynamic so that the shape could be filled with the Union Jack or the colourways of the commercial sponsors. I also liked the vibrancy of the 2012 Paralympic logo with its challenger brand mentality to be just as good as, if not better, than the Olympics.

I commend Wolff Olins for their bravery and for breaking with convention. But my favourite Olympic branding is still the 1972 Munich Games, the guidelines of which I admired in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art last summer. Now that’s truly iconic.

Tony Gage – Financial Controller

Initially, I didn’t like the logo, it looked messy and amateurish  a bit rough around the edges – and not classy enough for a sophisticated place like London. I had liked the bid logo, it felt cleaner and more obviously linked to the environment. You couldn’t relate the 2012 logo directly to London – I’d have liked to have seen the city more closely tied to the visual execution.

However, familiarity has softened my feelings towards it over time –  and this is because of the association it has with the amazing sporting summer of 2012 – everything felt so connected, it was a great marker of the event.

If the event’s good enough, any logo could resonate in this way. Maybe any design is a good design if it has distinction and links back to fond memories.


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