How important is an Olympic logo? Would London 2012 have been better if the logo had been different?
Last year we were bracing ourselves for the start of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games. We were filled with the hope that London would deliver, that we would win a shed load of medals and that Boris Johnson would not publicly embarrass us as a nation. I think youâ€™ll all agree with me in saying that we bloody nailed it â€“ Boris even confirmed himself as a national treasure by dancing along to the Spice Girls at the closing ceremony. One question though: who remembers the logo?
Hands up if you liked the logo. Really? To be honest it was a bit of an eyesore and a source of national embarrassment leading up to, and throughout ,the games. Much was said of the likeness to certain cartoon characters and about the general dislike of the design, but did it really make any difference? Would the games have been better if London went with a better logo?
Firstly it is important to point out that Olympic design is a highly regulated and precious process, with numerous hoops for the designer to jump through. However it is also important to understand that the Olympics have proved a great provider of classic design over the years.
Mexico City â€™68, Munich â€˜72 and Los Angeles â€™84 are personal favourites of mine because they captured the style of the city at that time, which is exactly what they should do. The Olympics is often described as a â€˜shop windowâ€™ advertising your country to the rest of the world, so itâ€™s not just the sporting endeavors of the athletes which are on display. The whole world is judging every little aspect of the host city â€“ including its design and communications.
So one year on and the buzz-word â€˜legacyâ€™ is once again being banded around, making us feel guilty that we quit the gym after only three months and stopped running as soon as it got a little colder; icy pavements are a hazard though. The design legacy, or impression that lives on after the games, for me, is one that slightly missed the mark. The pictograms were dynamic and everywhere â€“ which was visually stimulating â€“ the colours bright and bold, but that logo, along with the two slightly odd-looking mascots, will forever haunt me.
London 2012 was a real chance for the city to cement itself as a real design capital of the world and was ultimately let down by one element.
As a designer it is natural that some people will be less than complimentary of your work, it comes with the territory. However it is also clear when you have created an absolute pudding of a logo.