Creative debates come and go. Some, like that of Tropicana’s new packaging and London’s 2012 Olympic logo are sure to have a long shelf-life. As Wolff Olins’ work on the 2012 logo continues to be scrutinized, we would like to gauge your reaction to the design above. To begin, two marketers share their opposing views.
Loves it: Bryan Bedell
Just like most people, our first reaction to the London 2012 logo was shock. But we talked about it all morning, and by 3pm, we decided we love it. And here’s why you should, too:
It’s not boring. The bright colours and distinctive design definitely do stand out, and it’s immediately recognisable.
It’s different. It avoids all the go-to pratfalls of current logo designs. No brushstrokes, feathered drop shadows, mirrored reflections, gradients, patriotic colours, rainbows, ribbons, landmarks, symbols of unity, maps, swooshes or globes!
It’s reproducible. It’s good to see a logo that’s so easily printable, broadcast-able, embroider-able and moldable. It even looks pretty great in black and white.
It’s flexible. A variety of colour combinations, shapes and patterns are available, keeping the logo slightly different on each view, but consistent. 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 colours, shapes, type and patterns are the perfect starting point for some fantastic signage, event icons, banners, tickets, uniforms and merchandise.
It’s English. The two names that come to mind when we hear “British design” are two of our favorites 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 UK.
It’s simple. Some of the greatest logos of all time involve two lines (the Christian cross) or three lines and a circle (Mercedes).
It cost £400,000. That’s probably a bargain for an incredibly high-profile complete graphic identity system for an international event designed by experienced professionals.
It’s unexpected. After years of forgettable, watered-down, designed-by-committee logos, it’s nice to see something different and well thought out for long-term relevance. Sure, it may not be perfect and the feel-good mumbo-jumbo used to sell it to the public was pretty silly, but we feel confident that once the logo sinks in and we see how it’s used and how other elements relate to it, it will become a source of pride for London and the Games.
Bryan Bedell works at Chicago-based design firm Coudal Partners.
Loathes it: Mark Ritson
There is only one thing wrong with the London 2012 logo. It’s s#$%.
I can tell you this with total and utter certainty because I am a marketer. And unlike the po-faced designers that have lined up to defend Wolff Olins’ woeful efforts, I actually understand what marketing and branding are all about. First, you find out what people want. Then, you give it to them.
It’s not about being “counter intuitive” or “daring” or “energetic”. That works for the Turner Prize, but when it comes to designing the identity for the most important sporting event in Britain for 50 years, you should apply the rules of marketing. It’s about delivering on the brief and giving the target customer what they want.
Both of these challenges were very clearly laid out. The London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) wanted to position 2012 as the games for everyone. And when the media asked everyone what they thought of the 2012 logo, they spoke with remarkable national unanimity: they hated it. They still hate it. And they will hate it when it comes time to represent London to the world.
Above, a brand “guru” is no doubt speaking in the singular and citing his own preferences and perceptions.
My position speaks with about 50 million times the power because I am not representing my own viewpoint, but that of the market – in this case, the British population. In the most representative study of public reaction to the logo, 68% of respondents “hated” the design. Not “disliked” or “felt neutral”, but hated it.
That is why the 2012 logo is so ineffective. Not because I say so or a design guru says it isn’t, but because the people it was designed to appeal to, to involve, to engage, absolutely hate it.
Remember what our discipline is all about. Listen to your customers next time.
Mark Ritson is a co-author of Branding Strategy Insider, a renowned brand strategist and MIT Professor of Marketing.
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