A lot has already been said about the London 2012 Olympic logo some spoken in fair criticism, others enough to make you shudder. But there is much more to Olympic branding which has caught our attention and with just over two weeks until the opening ceremony there’s no better time to begin a three-part discussion of all things Olympic and creative.
When considering the merits of a design for a new Olympics, the heritage and history are important to keep in mind for what we should expect. Seeing this collection, helps put in perspective how recognisable the London 2012 designs are in relation to current trends. The Munich 1972 logo for example has aged terribly: appearing as lazy and cold rather than smart and refined, or as a symbol of modern brilliance. This is surprising, particularly as Otl Aicher’s pictograms for the same olympics are seen as a benchmark for today’s designs, and deservedly so. How then do our pictograms compare?
In this sarcastic and conflicted article in Creative Review the London 2012 pictograms, created by SomeOne, apparently fall short of the past glories of Munich. What am I missing? Yasmine of the London 2012 Brand team is right to point out that times have changed and the context for the pictograms has changed dramatically. With a greater need for flexible application this new set is a great success in spanning the realms of informational signage as well as a vast array of more dynamic media. That is no mean feat. The visual expectations of Otl Aicher are no longer an appropriate comparison for what is success.
The 2012 Headline font is another story though. FastCo design placed our beloved font as #1 of it’s worst fonts in the world, while Alice Rawsthorn of the International Herald Tribune aptly observed “it’s the graphic equivalent of what we Brits scathingly call–“dad dancing”–namely a middle-aged man who tries so hard to be cool on the dance floor that he fails.” At first, I felt strangely protective in response to the unanimous hatred for the typeface, no doubt I was charmed by it’s goofiness – not something generally associated with world class sporting achievement. I imagine that what we see here is an unfortunate fluke where the forms shone best as “london” on the logo, leaving the remaining alphabet to be rammed into existence. Despite this, I feel that worst font in the world is harsh considering all this.
Despite it’s scary, post-modern-mess appearance, I am still glad that the London 2012 Olympic Identity has not been scared into safe obscurity. It’s eccentricities at least are somewhat “British”, heaven forbid we might have found ourselves with a Munich 1972.
Next up in our Olympic Design series, we take a look at the London 2012 Mascots Wenlock and Mandeville. Who you say? Exactly.
As always we’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave your comments and we’ll get back to you.