London 2012 branding – radio interview

Matt Le Gresley, as seen on BBC news Woke up (way too) early this morning to provide commentary for Sonia Deol’s morning show on the BBC Asian Network (which means after a short discussion of the 2012 brand we moved to a lively discussion of chat-up lines, the subject of a competition they are having).

Some additional thoughts to the main view I expressed in my Metro comment yesterday. Prepared, not necessarily aired:

  • This logo takes the human figure route – similar to other recent Olympic logos, such as Barcelona and Beijing, so it is not too radical from that aspect. I wonder if there is going to be a separate mascot, as there usually is, but I think they’re aiming for it to be both.
  • I wasn’t expecting it to go back to literal city references like old logos, but the typographical reference to London is very weak.
  • The online launch was painfully mismanaged – The striking, vibrant graphic language accompanying the animated versions was almost nowhere to be seen and poor digital reproductions of the logo were everywhere, official site included.
  • Yes – the animated version works better, and the identity as a whole will look good on digital channels, but it doesn’t compensate for the state of the static logo, still crucial for many central applications – signage, billboards, t-shirts…
  • Youth appeal is a worthy goal, but youth culture, though largely global nowadays, is a collection of many tribes, all of them fast moving targets, many conflicting. It is not clear if they’ll buy into it now, even more so In five years times.
  • The best way to make sure they don’t is to so overtly target them. Youngsters just love it when dad comes to their dance party. Also – either you’re youth oriented or have mass appeal, trying to do both is a high risk strategy.
  • The tabloids are naturally highlighting the price tag – £400,000 is not cheap. But this is NOT the price of the logo alone. It probably covers research, strategic planning, many different iterations, expensive production costs like the movie and animations that launched it, the original music accompanying it, and the development of the branding work into elaborate guidelines – a full tool box that can be implemented across a multitude of channels. I peeked at a set of Olympic guidelines in the past – it is a a crazy amount of work. Yes, it is a high-end price, as expected from a top-5 agency such as Wolff-Ollins. But, depending on the deliverables included, is not unjustifiable when you think of the impact the brand communications of this event will have on its income (merchandising, anyone?).
  • As Seth pointed, The PR language used to launch it is unforgivable.

Bottom line – I can see what they are trying to do, and there are many valid ideas in the identity as a whole, but the logo just doesn’t work in my opinion. With enough money spent on communications they can probably influence the associations and transcend that (with this kind of budget you do almost anything), but it is not going to make their work any easier – which is exactly what the identity was supposed to do.

BBC news offers a good analytical discussion with various opinions.

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1 thought on “London 2012 branding – radio interview

  1. The fact that the olympics logo created so much noise, is an accopmlishment by itself. A brand (as was said here) is not just a logo – actualy it’s all but a logo. Wolf Ollins created a brand, and when you see the movie they made it’s starting to make sense. They created an attitude. I heard a lot of old timers comment on the logo. They are disappointed it’s not pompose enaugh, lack of nationalism and all this shit young people don’t give a damn about. For the first time I feel the olympics is about people and not about sport. Mind you the main issue in the ivent is the spirit – not scores. I personaly love it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and say:Let’s play, let’s have fun. If so many people see in it so many different things, if it evokes such strong objections, seems it’s interesting and new. People around the world are looking forward for the date (2012) London is there already and will stay there. Last thing…it’s almost impossible to create a brand 4 years ahead of the market. Let’s wait 4 years before we can really judge if it works or not.


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