15 July 2012
Hey the MLE,
Been meaning to post about this for awhile now. As you know, I went to a talk at Wolff Olins about the 2012 Olympics logo branding on July 4th. Evidently there was some sort of gag order on WO until this talk, which is why they have not said much about their work. As a big fan, I was quite curious to learn more.
I always wondered how WO managed to push through such a "unsafe" design. They said it was because they the logo work was done very very early in the process, shortly after London won the bid. The new stakeholders were thinking big and open and ambitiously, rather than safe. WO did not think this logo would have passed if the process happened later on, when this momentum had slowed and more stakeholders were involved.
The brand was to be aimed at younger people, as previously the olympic games attracted older people, so therefore more people could benefit. It was not to be for the elite - it is for everyone.
There are 3 versions of the logo, one for the olympics (with the 2012 + london + 5 rings); one for the paralympics (with the 2012 + london + the paralympic symbol) and one with just 2012. This third logo can be used by anyone whether in London or not, and ideally beyond the 2012 games.
The application of the brand was described by WO as "prescribed anarchy." Again, in the spirit of openess and inclusiveness, users of the brand were encouraged to really own it, and be creative with it. Unfortunately, this did not happen as much as WO has hoped. The brand police were strict, due in part to the fact that sponsors paid the big bucks for exclusive rights - they wanted to own the brand, not anyone.
Finally, by creating such a young, non-elite, "street" brand, the older more conservative audiences seemed to have been a bit alienated, which again defeated the whole "more inclusive" goal. For example, the merchandise is not selling as well as hoped, as these people do not seem to be as comfortable wearing such crazy designs.
I know some people who think that if the Olympic committee wanted a tradition-breaking logo that would seem cool to teens and young adults, perhaps there are other agencies who understand the fickle tastes of this audience a bit better. They love the overall feel/idea but think it could have been executed better.
I can appreciate this, but I still also appreciate WO's effort. It was great to hear WO say that they knew they were disobeying the conventions of good taste. They even admitted to having a meeting with a potential big British client cancelled, in part because of the fiasco this brand caused them.
Sure you can hate it and call the 2012 London Olympics branding what you will, but you can never call it boring. And that is the worst thing design can be called in my opinion.
Even the haters would admit that it is young, it is energetic, a bit wacko, unexpected, a bit all over the place and it is not quiet, safe and boring. Suits East London completely!