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Why we should give London 2012 logo a chance

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Claire Stocks | 13:18 UK time, Tuesday, 5 June 2007

London 2012’s new logo has got the country talking - not in the manner the organisers would have hoped - but it has certainly made a splash, which may not be a bad thing in the long run.

Calls to the press office this morning met with replies that appeared to confirm that this was not a publicity stunt – as some feared/(hoped?) - but a genuine attempt to break new ground.

More than 200 people commented on my post yesterday; our 606 debate garnered more than 3,000 comments and our online vote showed a consistent level of about 80% against the logo (until it malfunctioned and reset itself to zero - nothing sinister I assure you. But apologies for the annoyance).

On my blog post, Michael Sutton-Long (commenter number 117) was an almost lone voice of support for the Wolff Ollins-designed icon.

I thought, as a first-hand witness to the launch, I would pass on what it was Seb Coe & co were trying to convey.

Personally, I don’t like it at all. But then I didn’t like flares or mobile phones when they “first” came out either.

1. Different.
Virtually every other logo has featured a city skyline + Olympic rings + date.
Two of the ones that didn’t – Mexico 1968 and Munich 1972 (interestingly my personal favourites from the past) – must have caused quite a stir at the time one imagines.
These logos undoubtedly describe the event – but London 2012 wanted something that went beyond that.

2. Dynamic.
The logo animates and flashes in different colours (there has been some concern from opponents that the flashing lights and bright colours may spark epilepsy).
After a chat with one of our TV editors he was quite enthusiastic about how it would work on television and it does look good on mobile phone screens. Then again the head of our web design team was not a fan..

3. Bold.
The company behind the logo were apparently responsible for the Orange brand – which was also very bold and controversial in its time – and ultimately successful.
Coe was keen to emphasise this was “not just a logo” and that behind the brand is London 2012’s genuine belief that the Games can be used to change the country for the better – and not just through better transport links and stadiums that will remain in the east end of London.
Sadly what got lost in yesterday’s logo controversy was an ambitious, enthusiastic and powerful message to the country:
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity from which we can all benefit. This is your invitation, these are your Games.”
One-by-one, several stars got to the stage to make their pledge for 2012.

Stars at the launch make their pledges

* Tanni Grey-Thompson: “I promise to help 2012 become the best Paralympic Games ever”
* Kelly Holmes: “I pledge to inspire every person I meet to follow their dreams and never give up.”
* Jose Mourinho: Not sure I took this down exactly right as he mumbled but something like: “I pledge to live the Games in a special way so in 2012 I will, probably, be a Londoner.”
* Andy Murray: “I pledge to help inspire kids to take up sport and stay active”
* Jamelia: “I pledge to teach my two daughters how to swim”

Later this year 2012 will be launching a pledge website where they will be encouraging members of the public to make their five-year promise, the aim being we all use the catalyst of the Olympics for our, and social, good. If what 2012 are hoping to achieve comes off, this will be a better country. We could join in, rather than carping from the sidelines.

4. Not just sport/not just London
2012’s head of marketing Chris Denny explained to a few of us at a seminar recently that the 2012 Games were:-

Not just about sport but sport + culture + education + health
Not just about London but London + UK + the whole world
Not just a six-week event but every day
Not just about spectating but participating
Not just for those aged 35+ but for anyone aged 5+
Not just worthy – fun

In this context one can see they are trying to make the logo ‘neutral’ in the sense that it is not about sport, London, or even the Olympics – while at the same time it is all of those things.
Now I know this sounds like a load of old mumbo jumbo but think of how the Nike swoosh (which was designed by a student for $35) says sport/cool/go-ahead – not just sports gear. Or how Apple seems to say simple/good/good for you – not just computer.
The sentiments above seem entirely in keeping with what young people in particular have told me they want from the games.

Unfortunately it seems the end result – the brand – has flopped, and the garish colours – Rhubarb and Custard meets Mister Blobby – seem the opposite of a blank canvas.
Then again, maybe we all just need to catch up with the brand…
Yesterday’s reaction reminded of that to the latest Damien Hirst sculpture or Tracy Emin piece (“my five-year-old son/cat/big toe/teapot could have done better”) – indeed the Telegraph sent one of their video journalists down to the Tate Modern to get this vox pop.

So perhaps, like modern art, the joke is on us and, like Impressionism, we will eventually grow to love it, or what it comes to symbolise anyway.
My problem is that once you see Lisa Simpson in there, you can never not see her.
Anyway, I’m a not a designer (like these guys) - but the badge does look nice on my blue jacket..

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