Ben Gilman

Branding London 2012

It’s taken a while but I’m starting to quite like the London 2012 Olympics brand and logo. Despite my desire to shun the herd I was firmly in the “huh” camp when it was revealed in 2007.

With the marketing activity now kicking into gear I think the brand is starting to show its strengths. Firstly, the shape is unmistakable no matter what the fill is. As a designer, that sort of freedom with a logo shape is rare and I think it really works in some contexts .

The use of the logo in corporate sponsor’s marketing materials also works well for me - so well in fact that you get the distinct feeling that that was a major factor in the design process. Either way if that was a requirement, the logo is achieving its aim.

Despite my general softening towards the look and feel, there are still errors out there to be made - this, for example, is a step too far in my opinion:

The explanation goes that this is the first time that the Olympic and Paralympic brands have shared a brand identity - it seems to me that in this case they could actually have fully shared it with the quick addition of the Paralympic Games strapline. For me the extra swirls (it’s the International Paralympic Committee logo) and hatches have totally compromised the bold simplicity of the lines of the original logo.

So what have we learned?

All of this proves to me that whilst first impressions can only be made once they’re not always correct - I think there’s a new-fangled phrase that beat me to this. Brand development is as much about long-term feeling as it is short-term impact. But how does that sit with user-testing in brand development? What can you learn from immediate exposure to a logo or a colour scheme? Without the courage to weather an initial storm of criticism, the London 2012 brand may have been a far less adventurous one? A brand that didn’t fairly represent UK design on a global stage maybe.

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