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Reflection on the London 2012 Olympic Logo


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 you’ll all agree with me in saying that we bloody nailed it – 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 ’68, Munich ‘72 and Los Angeles ’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 ‘shop window’ advertising your country to the rest of the world, so it’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 – including its design and communications.

So one year on and the buzz-word ‘legacy’ 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 – which was visually stimulating – 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.


Staff member
Creating anything for the Olympic Games is considered a bit of a poison chalice and you're buggered whatever you do.
I remember my fave artist and Mambo designer Reg Mombassa designed the shirts for the Australian Olympic team and although they looked great it almost destroyed the brand over night.
I wasn't a big fan of the logo but what I did like was the fact they pushed the boundaries a bit.
I was on of the designers selected by Archie McArchie to design the mascots and was very relieved mine wasn't selected as it's career suicide but what do you do?.
I was kindly given an entire weekend with no warning to design the main character, the paralympic ones and create an entire marketing campaign and brand strategy.
At least I got to add Saatchi & Saatchi to my CV. :rolleyes:
After reading this article I am very happy I have finally found someone who has been completely honest about the Olympic logo and the horrendous mascots! I feel that we could have done so much better but hats off to the designers who put their neck on the line to produce the work. Although the logo and mascots were completely out of tune it is safe to say that the rest of the Olympic games were a great success especially the opening ceremony!
This leads nicely into the debate regarding the logo to celebrate Canada's 150th Anniversary in 2017. The Department of Canadian Heritage have basically come up with a few logos for this occasion and it has been greeted with a lukewarm reception from their test subjects. Designers from across the country are confused as to how this is all that was thought up. With so much potential for a decent logo that fits its purpose, and especially for an occasion such as this.

So designer, Ibraheem Youssef has decided to set up a website called "The 150 Project". He is giving designers the opportunity to contribute and be a part of the project (other designs by designers on the site). It will be interesting to see the what you all think. Someone did say, they're fed up of Canada being represented with no more than the colour red, maple leaves and hockey pucks. But I guess that is because it is far more easily associated at first glance.

Sean Lee-Amies

As far as I'm concerned, the only one that has any potential is the last one. The rest are just utter crap. Did someone hold a crowd-sourcing competition...?! *Says in patronising tone*