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Is Olympic brand up to the task?

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Mihir Bose | 19:49 UK time, Monday, 4 June 2007

The Olympic brand which London 2012 unveiled at the Roundhouse on Monday was certainly innovative and has already provoked debate.

Indeed, on the BBC Sport website it has produced the sort of reaction which suggests many do not like it.

Now, that may be the initial negative response that any new idea often gets.

I must say watching Lord Coe, leader of London 2012, launching the brand I was reminded of his pitch for the Games at Singapore.

His theme then was how London represented the world in the way no other city did and therefore deserved the Games.

London 2012 logo

In giving the Games to London, the Olympic authorities would not be giving it to the capital of a city, but to the pre-eminent city in the world where the whole world could participate.

The presentation was slickly done, but it was difficult to understand the brand - it changed colours several times and there could have been more than one interpretation of what its shapes meant. But boring it certainly wasn't.

Lord Coe certainly made much of this point, insisting: "We don't do bland, this is not a bland city.

“We weren't going to come to you with a dull or dry corporate logo which will appear on a polo shirt and we are all gardening in it in a year's time.

“This is something that's got to live for the next five years and we believe this will do exactly that."

We were told the brand will change over the years so as to always keep it fresh. This is clearly necessary as the brand has to last another five years.

What will not change is the need to make sure the brand is protected.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern-day Olympics, said the Games are not about winning but about taking part.

Olympic authorities make much of the fact that none of the athletes receive any money.

They carry no advertising on their clothing and there are no advertising hoardings in the Olympic sites.

However, what launches like the one at the Roundhouse show is that the modern Olympics are also about making money.

That involves branding Olympic products and making sure those who have not signed up to use the brand do not profit.

In that sense Monday’s launch marks a defining moment for the London Olympics.

The organisers say they are claiming history with this launch, a history they hope many will want to be part of.

However, they will also make sure that the use of this history-making brand will be as carefully choreographed as the launch.

London 2012 will police any attempts to "ambush market" the brand and I must say neither Lord Coe nor Tessa Jowell, the Olympics Minister, shirked from accepting that the Olympics is a business and like any business needs to be protected.

What they desperately want is for the brand to be accepted and sought after, but the initial public reaction suggests that this may be more than a little problematic.

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