May cause seizures.

Has anybody seen the London 2012 Olympic logo? Just kidding, of course you have, everybody has.


I was away at the time of the launch and therefore missed out on the fanfare surrounding its introduction to the public. Designed by Wolf Ollins, the thought process behind the identity has been described as conveying the four Olympic pillars; access, participation, stimulation and inspiration which together culminate in the brand vision that is ‘Everyone’s Games’. Phew! That’s quite a description for a logo. But wait there’s more, Lord Coe has said the logo is “ambitious, interactive and youth friendly.” Wolf Ollins have never been a company to shy away brave decision making. Their portfolio has a mixture of both huge successes as well as failures. Remember Monday? Probably not, it was the rebrand of Price Waterhouse Coopers consulting arm that lasted a mere month. Yet look at the successes they have helped Orange to achieve. Needless to say with Wolf Ollins at the helm, it was always going to be an interesting journey for the London Olympics. And they haven’t let us down, the logo has caused huge debate, with both the public and designers split in their opinions.

People everywhere are talking about it. It’s been in every newspaper and on every website. Only two days after the launch a petition with over 35,000 signatures was online calling for the logo to removed. The BBC online called for the public to submit their own designs and have subsequently voted for their favourite alternative. There has even been a story in the news that the interactive version of the logo is said to be triggering epileptic fits. So it’s been controversial to say the least. Well know British designer Peter Saville, despite finding it a little cheesy believes that “it’s incredibly noticeable, brave and confrontational.” American agency Coudal Partners have posted 10 reasons to be positive about the logo. The Stone Twins two Irish designers based in the Netherlands disagree, believing “The Olympic Committee has been sold the Emperors New Clothes. Essentially a logo which needs long explanatory, brand babble is not a good logo. The creators Wolf Ollins really need to let go of their brand managers, get back to basics and start focussing on the essentials of design.”

With all the bad publicity surrounding the logo, the Olympic Commitee have come out recently and defended their approach, pointing out that “the emblem is flexible and will evolve over the next five years.”
This for me is were the true ingenuity of Wolf Ollins can come to the fore. Organic identities have been around for some time now. Just look at the ever changing MTV and Google logos. Even Saks Fifth Avenue has been given an organic rebrand earlier this year by Pentagram. The project’s design leader Micheal Beruit believes that “Dynamic Identities fly in the face of the conventional wisdom that consistency is essential to an effective corporate identity.” With the Olympic logo appearing everywhere from mobile phones to onscreen billboards perhaps in today’s low attention, visually hungry society a simple static logo will just not cut the mustard. Maybe it’s an awful logo, maybe it’s luck or maybe Wolf Ollins are one step ahead of the rest. They have avoided all the cliches, everybody around the world is discussing the logo and they have told us it will change thus sparking more debate. So love it or hate it we’ll be talking about it, for, well, at least 5 years.

Bob Gray

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