Monday, 18 June 2007

What a shambles.

Recently an unsuspecting British public was exposed to something horrible. Something really horrible. And the cock-up in question? Wolff Olins' brand new identity for the London 2012 Olympic games.

Here it is in all it's hideousness:

It doesn't work. It looks amateurish. It's confusing. It's just poor. I'd like to know what on earth they were thinking when they designed this.

Here's Lord Coe talking some marketing rubbish he's being fed from an autocue:

"London 2012 will be Everyone's Games, everyone's 2012. This is the vision at the very heart of our brand. It will define the venues we build and the Games we hold and act as a reminder of our promise to use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone and reach out to young people around the world."

And Tony Blair:

"When people see the new brand, we want them to be inspired to make a positive change in their life."

The focus behind the logo seems to be aimed at young people, as the Olympic board feels that young people don't do enough sport etc. etc. (which is something we've been told for years and years). So they've got honourable intentions, at least. But I just don't see why it has to be so bad. Wolf Ollins are a world-famous branding agancy, responsible for Orange and 3, two great-looking brands. And then they come up with this. Have a look at other youth-orientated brands; Adidas, Nike etc, and you'll see they look slick, modern and the epitome of 'cool' - the failure here is that the logo tries too hard to look cool.

Remember that kid in the playground that always tried to look cool but never did? Well that's who the London 2012 logo is. And I should know, I was one of those kids.

If Tony Blair is indeed serious about wanting it to inspire people to positive change, he's been successful; there's been an enormous public backlash, and the BBC website has literally dozens of alternative designs sent in by readers (here: and reams of derision (here: It's amazing to see ordinary people become so worked up about design; it's something we rarely see, and it's great to be vindicated by Joe Public.

Sometimes I wonder if design isn't just all a big con; a fallacy designed by those more visually-literate as a warped kind of elitism. But this has put my faith back in the founding principles of aesthetic beauty once again; they DO matter, which is why it's all so much more painful when those responsible for setting visual benchmarks fail so spectacularly.

Only time will tell if this logo makes it to the finish line, but either way, we're going to learn something along the way; all of us, not just the designers in the room. And for that, Wolf Ollins should be applauded.

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