Alternative London 2012 logos

London olympic logo

Many of you showed your dislike of the London 2012 logo, leaving a host of comments in the thread of yesterday’s post.

I woke to more news about the negative impressions, so thought I’d follow-up with a few thoughts from around the Internet.

The BBC is showing alternative logos by viewers. Not great, but I’ve picked out a few:

London 2012 logo design

London 2012 logo design

Chris Autry, managing director of ad agency Fhlame, noticed a resemblance to the children’s programme Tiswas of the 70s and 80s.

“Putting London in lower case and in cartoon writing is a “disgrace” to the city, and there’s an imbalance in having the word London and the Olympic rings both in the top half of the logo. The word London is in an inelegant font, which devalues London as a city. It looks like a child’s writing.”

London 2012 logo design

The lower right logo (above) was the original London Olympic logo during the pitch. Much better, although the legibility could be improved.

The design community continue to voice opinions — here are a few recent online articles:

Chase Jarvis talks about the shocking design spectrum.
The community at Creative Bits aren’t particularly in favour.
Aaron at miLienzo attempts to shed some positives on the logo.
Where’s the sausage says it’s like your dad disco dancing.
Duncan Borrowman reckons it looks like a 1980s art attack.
Reaction [beta] remind us that the client is just as responsible as the agency.
Elbowruminations throw Miami Vice and WHAM! into the mix.
Seth Godin reckons it’s just a jaggy picture.

I could go on, but I won’t.

34 responses

  1. Thanks for the link David.

    The best description of the logo I’ve read anywhere is that it looks like Lisa Simpson giving er, ‘oral pleasure’. :lol:

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a backlash against any logo. Ever. While I personally think the mark is awful, this design has become the most talked item on design forums on both sides of the pond. Using that barometer, the release has been a success. It’s also got people talking about design in general – not a bad thing I suppose.

  3. Personally I think a redesign is the absolutely worst thing they could do, it would be a PR disaster. A redesign would send out all the wrong signals about the British design community – that they got it wrong, that they have no confidence, that they bucked to international pressure, that it was a waste of money, the cock-up of all cock-ups, etc.

    Whatever you think about the design, it IS a bold and brave design and for that to be worth anything at all they have to stick to their guns on it. This would show faith in their decision, and demonstrate that the British design community is bold and different – what makes it unique. These are good messages.

    One thing’s for sure, they are not going to redesign it tomorrow, and personally I think opposition to this design will die down over the coming months. I think it’s a ‘grow-er’ ;)

  4. You’re very welcome, Chris. I’ve seen that description on quite a few articles.

    Aaron, I know what you mean. Just wishful thinking on my behalf. I agree, bold, unique, these are great terms to have attached to a design community. I think there could’ve been a much better mark used to back it up though.

    Steve, I’m not sure there has been such a backlash. I welcome any discussions around design, and the olympic committee has certainly boosted publicity. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  5. Why is it the ‘big boys’ get away with producing absolute rubbish and charging fortunes when we, small provincial outfits, have to work so hard to justify every penny of our bill for producing highly creative work?

    If I’d have presented this to one of our clients they would have kicked me out the door before I was able to burst into my first lines of a 1000 page document justifying our creative approach (bullshit) and why they should quite happily pay me £400,000!!!!!

    Perhaps I should change my name to Wolff. No, perahps not, we don’t treat our clients like Little Red Riding Hood.

    It’s about time the big budgets come our way. Do they realise they can get better work at a fraction of the cost.

  6. Thanks for the link and for the incredibly thorough summary of the reacations! I think Aaron might be right that the logo is a bit of a “grower.” Like the blog Speak Up said, design trends recycle themselves every 30 years or so, and by the time 2010 rolls around, it will be 30 years since 1980. Maybe the logo is actually exteremly forward-thinking after all?

    Then again, it might still suck, and continue to suck forever. I’m amazed by the Tiswas resemblence. That’s incredible.

  7. I commented on this logo yesterday and looking at it again today something stuck me.

    The 2012 element of the logo reminds me of a anti counterfeit design I created which was deliberately constructed using irregular letters to disguise the message. (message “popped” if color copied) Not the design approach you want to take if something really need to be read!

    I agree with Aaron, it would be a PR disaster to change the logo now…particulary when it has so much publicity. Britain has made its bed and now has to lie in it!

  8. Kevan, good point about the recycled trends and that it may be extremely forward thinking. Interesting idea.

    Steve D, you’re right. In light of the attention it’s received, we might be able to consider the logo a success, even if in our opinion it’s awful. It’s memorable, no? And wasn’t that one of the marks of a good logo? Hmm… have we tried holding it up to the four guidelines for logos defined earlier in this blog?

    I know that it was mentioned on the BBC interactive editor’s blog yesterday, but did you see the part about “Create your own design” on the official brand website? Maybe they will be evolving the logo this way, taking public submissions for the logo. I don’t think this section calls for a complete redesign of the logo, just a take on a template, but still, the firm that created the original might get inspired. It certainly roused the public to action and got their creative juices going! Some of the logos you shared above were not too shabby, especially for “lunch break” designs. They need a little polishing, but the ideas are good.

    And Tiswas is reminiscent of the KISS logo.

  9. I just watched an article on the BBC evening news, and the video to accompany the logo launch has induced seizures in seven or eight people who suffer from epilepsy!

    They’re looking into it as a matter of urgency, which isn’t surprising. It happens during the video clip of a diver hitting the water, when lots of flashing colours appear on the screen. The flash rate is against strict guidelines.

    From bad to worse.

  10. David – they just broadcast on our nightly news that the animation of the logo is making people ill or have seizures. Certainly they are going to take another look at this logo. It seems to be turning into a bit of a marketing disaster.

  11. This discussion really gets at the distinction between ‘brand’ and ‘mark.’ It’s an atrocious mark. Certainly no argument here. But will the ‘brand’ survive it? Will it be negatively effected (are fewer people going to enjoy the olympics because of it)? Is it possible for a brand to benefit from a bad mark?

    (Though it does remind me of the worst parts of my job.)

  12. Can any legal action be taken?

    I like the second one, but it wouldn’t be valid I reckon, as it breaks the Olympic logo.

    (Nice hike in RSS readers I see – Keep it up!)

  13. Reid, hopefully a lot less emphasis will be put on the logo and more on perhaps the mascot where placement is concerned. I don’t think the brand is being helped by the negative publicity, especially with the seizure-inducing TV ads.

    Armen, we’ll have to see. No warnings given.

    Off-topic, my RSS hike was due to a post making it to the front page of Digg. Yet again my host company’s abuse department sent me an email so I think I’ll have to upgrade to a dedicated server. I’m sure the numbers will drop by tomorrow or the next day as these things are always temporary.

    You have a keen eye.

  14. Is there anyone out there who likes this design. Good post.

    Congrats on the digg. BTW, check out dreamhost for a digg friendly host.

  15. Thanks Lyndon. I’ve contacted Dreamhost about transferring my site. My current host is great, no doubt, apart from when I get a flood of new traffic. I’m sure it’s an annoyance when readers keep getting server errors. If you get anything for a referral let me know your sign-up email address and I’ll list your good self.

  16. Those are so much better than the angular 3 year-old’s collage.

    As a side note, your feedburner thingy says you have exactly 1000 readers. How cool is that?

  17. The logo is awful I don’t think there’s too much dispute; however, couple that with the awful website design, and you have one smelly design carcass.

  18. They were showing the clip this morning on an Australian breakfast show, talking about those having seizures and fits. It is so embarrasing. I’m sure when the chief promotion manager was thinking of ways to get worldwide publicity, they never thought of this!

  19. I had a very long rant on the Brand Republic site so won’t bore you with it again here. I, like almost everyone else, don’t like this ‘brand’, ‘mark’ or what ever we are calling it today – a poor representation of what the British design industry can produce. It’s clunky, lacks any style and to be quite honest looks like an early concept scamp that has somehow made it all the way through to approval. And yes, it does look like something a 12 year old could produce – and that’s doing an injustice to most 12 year olds.

    I’m all for being bold and memorable but not at the expense of good design, which this clearly is not. OK it’s generated the most incredible response – the kind of PR exposure that any agency might be proud of – but the expression ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ can’t apply here.

    I disagree about not having a re-design – it should be. The argument that having it re-designed will be a PR disaster and reflect badly on the British design community doesn’t stand up. Surely it would be better to hold your hands up and say ‘fair enough’ and admit you might have got it wrong. Sticking with a logo that is so universally hated will surely do more damage to what is, at the moment at least, a British industry that leads the rest of the world.

  20. I think that a good idea might be to choose one of the many thousand “free” logos that many designers have and wil submit as alternatives. A contest to redesign the logo would be great. It would send out the message that

    1. They are listening to the public and we agree that they might have messed up a bit, and

    2. Because they spent so much money on the first effort, they are going to try and minimize taxpayer cost

    Heck, they may even be able to get a sponsor to pay for the cost of the redesign.

    One problem is that the logo itself is probably not the sole delivery of the money that was spent. There have been videos created, style guides made, and maybe even signage designed for all of the venues. That takes a lot of money and time to aredesign

  21. Stephen, thanks for your comments. Valid points about a re-design. The seizure promo was the icing.

    My friend Lee makes a great point about all the newspapers saying we should let school children design the logo and the money could go to schools. Children can’t design! It’s ridiculous.

    John, the money that was spent is absolutely not for just the logo. It’s most likely used for brand placement, guidelines, website development, promotional material, etc., etc.

  22. Organising an event like Olympics involved the entire country and not just the government and the organising committee. No wonder the British citizens were unhappy. Out of curisity, I check out Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. Well, nationalism is evident in the graphic execution.

    The current design will probably remain it would be a PR disaster as pointed out by Aaron

  23. I think that the ‘official’ logo is not at all appropriate of what London, Britain or the Olympic Games are about. In my oppinion the 2nd replacement logo shown on this page is much better, though i would take out the slogan ‘we’ve got the olympics in us’, which really does not work!

  24. I’ve been a designer for 21 years and a member of The Chartered Society of Designers for 14, so you could say that I have an eye for such things. I, like the majority of people it seems was also shocked, disgusted and embarrassed when the 2012 logo was launched.

    Now, having lived with it for a few weeks, it has started to grow on me, apart from the hot pink, which will always be vile, I’d go as far as to say I almost like it.

    There are elements of the logo which are tacky, the way the word London and the Olympic rings are treated, but if the design evolves I’m happy to watch its progress.

    Seb Coe is right about London deserving more than just another corporate looking logo (see the Olympic bid version). In 5 years time we may all be wondering what the fuss was all about.

  25. hi,
    im studying graphics at the moment and our project is to re-design the olympic logo for london 2012 like you have done and the designs are very i good. i agree with what matt has said- design no. 2 is very good but i would also take the slogan-“we’ve got the olympics in us” because it sort of ruins the the design i think..but your ideas are very good.

  26. Im an AS level student taking graphics and i am looking to produce a directional sign based on the london Olympics, when i fist saw the logo it looked like my nephew could have drawn it – and he is 5. But when i took a closer look, i think it was designed to appeal to a very wide age range, children for example would never look at something an adult looks at, but an adult will look at what has caught the childs eye, so therefore it is attracting all ages.

  27. Hi Samah, the ideas above aren’t actually mine, but taken off the BBC website, submitted by viewers. Interesting that you and Lexie are both working on projects with the Olympic logo. It’d be great if you could share the results.

  28. Great work. You definately chose the pick of the bunch. Agree with Stuey. I think it’s almost certain we will have forgotten what all the fuss was about with the design of the logo. I just read Wolff Olins own case study. I can see what they are trying to achieve with the logo and when presented in different forms throughout the five years I think we may even be saying it was the best olympic logo of recent times…

  29. I think:
    A. Its disgusting choice of colour clashes horribly with the traditional tones used in the 5 rings.
    B. It neither reflects the sophistication of a World recognised international competition, nor does it induce any desire to travel to London to spend money (or other olympic sites for that matter)
    C And if watching it on TV is gonna give me an epileptic fit, I think the damage to both health of the nation and the reputation of Olins is clearly done.

    Take a step back Wally and have another go before its all too late to save yourself from the downward spiral you are clearly entering!

    Why not? – Let Olins’ have first stab at redressing the brief and limiting the damage before we put them down totally? If I had come under such fire, I would offer to go back to my layout pad and start again – capping the fees at areasonable level, preferably comensurate with the level of final design solution required! – I think that Olins would do well to mitigate this design folly and regain their respect.

    PS. I also disliked the AZKO Bruce style / BT ‘piper’ logo when it was rolled out too, but we get used to it, dont we! And we cant deny that Wally has acquired a folio of outstanding and recognisable marks under his belt either.

    With such experience then, maybe they should have stuck to a tone more in line with that of the classic P&O look? Something making more of the original and only recognisable and constant design element from the last 100 yrs of Olympics – the 1920’s circles BRAND mark. ??

  30. my initial reactions were very much the same as many above –
    Garish, jagged, childish, ugly, etc, – so I thought I would give it time to grow on me…

    But that hasnt happened.

    And no matter how reflective of current trends / future trends / recycling / social attitudes / etc etc and no matter how memorable you may think this design is – (either through PR controversy or sheer retina-burning visuals) – I believe we are all saying one thing:

    Its never going to stand up as a design classic.
    Is it.

  31. As a consumer, the logo is eye-catching and unique. The other samples are nothing but using the olympic rings.

    The only improvement I would have liked to have been used was a different color scheme.

  32. hi
    personally i feal really sorry for the guy that mad this logo. im only 15 and personally i belive i could have done better but who else out there thats bagging it to the floor has stepped up and done somthing to change the out come. GOOD ON HIM!! for having ago. thats all the teachers say now a days. it looks decent enough and like Aaron said above it shows london for who they are creative!!

    good on him i say agian for having ago i respect you mate

  33. Hi David,

    My son crafted a really cool logo for the London Olympics. Is there a way he could use the logo for t-shirts or something? Or is that strickly forbidden? If not, do you know how he could get connected with someone who could put it to good use?

    The current logo is not too great in my opinion…


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