I completely agree with the critics like John Gruber: The London 2012 Olympic games logo is hideous. It’s just inexcusably ugly.
Coudal Partners attempted to defend the logo, but to me, I almost find their defense offensive to common sense. They state ten reasons why it should be loved; they do not comment on the fact it’s visually unpleasant. Regardless of why we ‘should love it,’ the fact remains still that the logo is ugly. No amount of politicking in its favor will change that fact. However, for the sake of argument, I’ll bite and respond to their defense:
It’s not boring. The bright colors and distinctive design definitely DO stand out and it’s immediately recognizable. Everyone’s talking about it. Designers always complain about the status quo, so we find it surprising that so very few are taking a stand for a somewhat radical design.
It looks like something out of the Flintstones. Just because it stands out doesn’t mean it is good. I’m kind of insulted by the end of that statement, really. The whole ‘designers always’ comment. Just because it is a radical design does not make it good. I’m all for daring and unique if you can pull it off well, and it looks good. Yeah, this logo is daring and unique, but it doesn’t look good.
It’s different. It avoids all the go-to pratfalls of current logo design. No brushstrokes! No feathered drop shadows! No mirrored reflections! No gradients, patriotic colors, rainbows, ribbons, landmarks, symbols of unity, maps, swooshes or globes!
Yes, it avoids a ton of cliché’s, and that is a good thing, but it subscribes to several others, most notably the neon pink ‘futuristic’ look of the early 1990s children’s toys and TV. I feel like I should be watching ‘Saved By The Bell.’
It’s reproducable. Aside from the word “London” going chunky when sloppily rendered for the web (notably on the BBC reproduction that ended up on every site critiquing the logo), it’s good to see a logo that’s so easily printable, broadcastable, embroiderable and moldable (think of how horrible those 9-color rainbow brushstroke logos look when they’re process-printed out-of-register with a 100 line screen on a McDonalds Cup!). It even looks pretty great in black and white.
It’s flexible. A variety of color combinations, shapes, and patterns are available, keeping the logo slightly different on each view, but consistent (the BBC showed only the pink and yellow version, which didn’t help its case). Also, keep in mind that an Olympic logo is almost always saddled with the logos of corporate partners. This square, bold mark will hold up.
It’s the basis for a graphic system. Events require a complicated system of signage, identification, ornamentation, and even architecture. This logo and its associated colors, shapes, type and patterns are the perfect starting point for some fantastic signage, event icons, banners, tickets, uniforms and merchandise.
So basically, it meets the minimum requirements for being a logo? The whole point of creating a logo is to be able to create a brand image around it. Anything that can’t be printed with other symbols or in different sizes would simply be unacceptable. Just because this logo can do these things doesn’t mean it should be picked.
The last part in that group scares me: ‘a basis for a graphic system’ ugggg a whole theme based around this hideous thing… yuck!
It’s timeless. We’ve read complaints that it’s reminiscent of Tangrams (popular since the 1800s), Jamie Reid’s “Never Mind the Bollocks” cover (1977), MTV (1981), ’80s new wave design (Swatch, Bennetton), Emigre Magazine, early 90s television titles (Wacaday, Going Live, The Ben Stiller Show). We’ve read complaints that it’s too ‘current’ and it’ll look dated by 2012. We’ve also read complaints that it’s too futuristic or modern. As far as we’re concerned, all design is influenced by other design. This design rises above its influences, yet remains simple enough to stand on its own. If current trends continue (towards four color, “computery” 3-D), this logo will be even more fresh in five years.
I hate this defense. Just because there is a lot of bad design out there that seem to have a lot of similar conventions which this one lacks doesn’t mean this is good. It just means this one manages to stand on its own with its ugliness; it succeeds in being ugly in a completely refreshing way.
It’s English. The two names that come to mind when we hear “british design” are two of our favorite designers of all time: Neville Brody and Peter Saville. Without being a direct knockoff, the 2012 logo is evocative of their work, the punk and new-wave movements, rave culture and everything we like about the United Kingdom.
What? Because it’s jagged and neon it evokes all these things? I find that demeaning to those cultural movements.
When we hear “my kid could have done that!” we think “success.” Some of the greatest logos of all time involve two lines (the Christian cross) or three lines and a circle (Mercedes). Your kid COULD have done that, but she didn’t. Nor did she design the graphics standards manual that goes with it. So give it a rest. Or send us her resume.
There is a difference between this logo and a Jackson Pollock painting. Sure they both have that same criticism of them, and that defense. But the fact of the matter is Pollock’s work managed to have an air of excitement and interest around it, bottom line, it was good. This logo is just ugly. Just because it is simple or different doesn’t make it good. This defense could be raised to almost any piece of art that is simple, doesn’t mean it’s right or worth defending, and it detracts from the real instances where this defense is essential. It comes off as that elitist ‘art for art’s sake’ attitude that so often leads people to think all artists are self-righteous nut-jobs. It hurts the design community as a whole when you use this excuse on something not worthwhile.
It cost £400,000. That’s probably a bargain for an incredibly high-profile complete graphic identity system for an international company/event designed by experienced professionals. Anyone valuing the importance of design should give that argument a rest, too. We wouldn’t have taken the job for a shilling less.
Do you know what that translates to in Dollars? I’d kill for a gig like that and laugh all the way to the bank. I cannot believe London’s Olympic committee got suckered into that. It’s comparable to the emperor’s new wardrobe. Someone must have convinced them this was smart when the fact is they got taken. The emperor has no clothes on.
It’s unexpected. Chicago is bidding for the 2016 Olympics and the temporary logo is a perfectly decent design. It’s attractive, memorable and generally liked. It even generated a fair amount of internet buzz. But those brushstrokes and gradients don’t reproduce well, the narrow vertical orientation complicates usage and by 2016, the Sears Tower is likely to be Chicago’s third-tallest building. More than anything, the London logo takes the Olympic logo to a new level of boldness, abstraction and simplicity. And we’re a bit jealous.
Just because it’s unique doesn’t mean it’s good. It doesn’t hide the fact that it’s ugly. Yes, it stands out… because it is ugly.
To make matters worse, it says nothing about the Olympics. Any logo could be put in the middle of that zero, and it would symbolize that. The logo cannot stand alone and evoke any sort of meaning. It cannot exist and say ‘Olympics,’ ‘sports,’ ‘competition,’ or anything for that matter without the Olympic rings in it. Seeing things like this make me miss people like Paul Rand who knew how to use symbolism to make something meaningful, is there no one like him left these days?
There is a point where abstraction without meaning is just dumb, and any function is lost. This design is way past that point. Is there really a whole generation of designers out there for whom symbolism is lost on?
That worries me.