June 10, 2007

Olympic 2012 Logo: What Is It



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I wanted to weigh in on the controversy raging about the new London 2012 Olympic logo.  I think a large part of the problem is that people are looking at it as a static element, whereas the intent of it is to actually float, fill and/or move.

If you look at this launch page for London2012, you get a better sense of how it functions, and morphs, as both a structural and functional element.  (Also check out this image on a screen at this IHT story.)

This article in the Telegraph, too, seems to “get it.”

The photo accompanying the article (second shot, above), in its literal replication, gives a better sense of the kinetic essence of the logo.  The Telegraph article also describe another key aspect of the design, which they call “in fill.”  The idea, in other words, is for organizations, events, sponsors — even individuals, to use the “logo” (which, more realistically should be described as a “template” (or floating window fragments) to do with as they choose.

I think the Olympic committee realizes it has an element that people won’t understand, or be able to relate to, until its “starts to do things.”  Along those lines, check out this quote from Wally Olins, visiting fellow at Said Business School at Oxford and “arguably the world’s leading consultant in branding” according to the Observer:

“It’s quite clear to me what they have done is look at what is going to happen over the next five years. The audience you’re addressing are kids between the ages of, say, eight and 16, and in a few years’ time they’re going to be 12 to 20. Those kids look at the web all the time, and what they look at is things that move.

‘If you look at that logo, at what it’s doing, it’s incredibly powerful and you can see everything from paraplegics throwing balls to people diving off very high platforms to people jumping to people running. Every time it moves it makes a very powerful display and it’s really clever and memorable. I can’t think of any logo that has that immensely powerful effect when it’s mobile.’

‘Where the criticisms lie, as it seems to me, are what happens to it when you look at it statically. The whole point of the thing is that it moves. It will appear year after year after year in all kinds of situations. Over the years, whenever you see it statically, it will remind you of what it’s like when it moves. I think it’s very imaginative and a very brilliant and brave piece of work, and if they keep their nerve there’s no doubt that it will work.’

If there is a problem with this “logo launch,” it is not the result of the design so much as a (practical) problem of how to “show something” across “the interactive breach.” to more effectively put the device to work.  Certainly, using it like a pulsating pinwheel so that epileptics end up in the hospital is not just careless — but unimaginative compared to what this thing can do.

Unless you are epileptic, you can see the offending launch video here.  Notice, though, that the promo, which goes special-effects crazy over the logo, also hardly uses it.

(updated: 11:11 am EST)

(image 1:  REUTERS/London 2012/Handout. London June 4, 2007.  image 2: Roger Taylor. June 10, 2007. telegraph.co.uk.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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