London 2012 Olympics Logo: Brilliant Design or Belly Flop?

Posted by Catherine Matthew

Aug 3, 2012 9:47:00 AM


london 2012 logo 1The excitement of the Summer Olympics is in full swing and while people around the world are discussing the controversies surrounding doping allegations, designers are still debating whether they love or hate the logo designed for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Since the £400,000 icon was launched in 2007, some have embraced its energy and youthful appearance, but many admit feeling a sense of shock and wonder. To be honest, I find it a bit of a head-scratcher, but as the London Games unfold and the emblem's revealed in its many forms, I’m attempting to look at it objectively to determine the overall vision for the icon. 

What Were They Thinking? 

According to Wolff Olins, the designers of the London 2012 logo, the goal of the project was to create something with boldness, youth and spirit to reflect the edgy, modern vibe of London. In past years, landmarks and sporting images have been used to represent the Games, but they chose to divert from this to show that the Olympics is more than sporting events and more than a city. It’s for everyone, despite age or culture.

London 2012 logo

What’s the Controversy?

The design of the icon was a deliberate change from the usual Olympic logos. Everyone was expecting to see some emotive symbol of London or sporting symbol.  Instead, the bold edgy boxes of the icon were modeled by the numbers 2012. However, Iran threatened to boycott the Games because the boxes looked like they spelled ZION. Could this mean that they went a bit too far with “edgy”? 

While admittedly the colours catch everyone’s attention, they do appear to have been taken directly out of an A-Ha video. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the 80's the first time around, but I wish the colours had been left there. That being said, the 80's are back and the colours manage to obtain an urban edgy feel. 

Is it Effective?

Whether we like a logo or not, the effectiveness of the brand is the most important goal. An icon, such as London 2012, has a job to do. As I reflect on the overall goal, I wonder if it truly manages to embrace everyone, despite age or language. The choice to use an ultra urban, trendy look still causes me to scratch my head. Will the farmer from Afghanistan feel embraced? What about the 50 year old tuk-tuk driver in Thailand or the 80 year old woman in a retirement home in Fredericton? Are the Games really for them or does it simply manage to estrange anyone over the age of 30?

Undoubtedly, the London 2012 logo manages to appeal to the youth of the world, which appears to be the underlying goal of these Games. It’s unique, fun, hip and bold! It also sets itself apart from the usual or expected. However, the question remains: Has designing a youth-oriented emblem been at the risk of alienating the older, “less-hip” crowd? 

What Do You Think?

Let us know what you think of the logo. Do you like it or think it’s a design gone awry?

Take the poll or post your comments. Agree or disagree — we want to hear it all! 


Topics: branding, design

Posts by Topic

see all


Insightful marketing info delivered right to your inbox or RSS Reader.


Subscribe Now