If you look online and elsewhere, you’ll see loads of people commenting on it (and for my money Marie at Struggling Author has probably most succinctly nailed the problems with it), but as a London resident and opinionated swine, could I hold off from spouting forth about it ? No, I could not.
It isn’t a very pretty logo at all, and it does look like a bit of graffiti or similar, and I have to say that I think this is the problem with it; the accompanying press releases seem to emphasise the way it’s meant to appeal to the young, and once you start talking like that, you almost invariably end up being patronising, or at the least, lacking any sense of conviction or certainty about what you’re up to. Decision by committee and all that.
And that logo looks like a rather pointed and cynical attempt to garner some kind of street cred with a faux-edgy design (unfortunately at a time when a lot of pop musicians are almost tilting back towards a smoother, almost big-band sound and look – I’m thinking particularly of Beyonce and Christina’s stuff here), and it feels like a teacher or aged relative trying to relate to the kids – if it’s done without the intention being clear, it might work, but when you point at something and say ‘look kids, we’re cool like you are! Well wicked!’, it just gets cringeworthy.
Combined with all this ill-judged and ultimately flawed stuff about aiming to appeal to the kids, though, is a bunch of nonsense about branding and the like – here’s a sample from Seb Coe:
“This is the vision at the very heart of our brand. It will define the venues we build and the Games we hold…”
Sounds almost impressive, doesn’t it ? Well, if you think that brandspeak means anything, maybe. As it is, what he says means nothing at all, and doesn’t even make sense – so the logo is the vision at the heart of the brand, is it ? And that means that the core of the vision is … um, quite ugly? Or what? I don’t know. And heaven forbid that this vision should define the venues that are built – I live in London, and I’d rather we didn’t have a spate of ill-considered, angular and primary-coloured venues being built. And god knows what he means about it informing the Games that take place – maybe shot putt and javelin will be put aside in favour of the Women’s Marathon Stickle-Brick Championships or something? I have no idea.
And that’s my point: the language being used is nonsensical adspeak, the kind of marketing waffle which is used to hide the fact that there’s not really been a lot of thought or effort been put in to the end result. Rather like a lot of modern art, it’s said with the implied assertion that if you don’t get it, you’re somehow at fault, which isn’t really the case, as the thing about branding is that a lot of it works backwards, seeming to believe that if you design a nice logo or whatever, people will automatically feel some affection for the item in question. Not so. The reason why logos for Coke, Disney, Apple or whoever have some kind of resonance for the viewer is because they’ve already got a body of work or popularity behind them, and the logo is the front-end or public face of that. I’m not well-versed in the art of semiotics and the like, but I understand that there’s a distinction which is drawn between the signifier (here, the logo) and the signified (the item it symbolises).For the Chaos Magicians amongst you, that’s a sigil.
This is where symbols come from – people wear crosses or Stars of David or Crescent Moons and Stars on chains because it’s a shorthand for a series of ideas which have meaning for them. These symbols – and they’re invariably wordless like the Nike Swoosh or the Apple apple (hmm) – are a shorthand for something people have some kind of like for. You can’t just design a logo and think it’s going to make people like the product if it doesn’t work or entertain or whatever. Which is the mistake in the notion of ‘building brands’ – the people who actually make the computers or the clothes or the films or whatever are the ones who build something, the marketers just flog stuff. They’re glorified barrow boys, no matter how much they try (like an untalented or unimaginative artist) to hide it under a barrage of fancy-sounding (though ultimately hollow) terms.
I semi-digress, but to summarise: the 2012 Olympic logo and its accompanying video (which looks positively migrainous to me) hardly appear like £400,000 worth of effort (the cost, apparently – I’d love to see that bill broken down into its component parts), the talk about attracting the young people strikes me as patronising (so god only knows what the yoof of today will make of it), and the brand-speak is vapid and meaningless. Oh, and despite what MPs and the like keep saying, I won’t be fooled and call it a brand – it’s a logo, and an ugly one at that.
Though I do like the hubristic way they’ve put a little ‘TM’ to the right of it all, to ensure we know it’s a Trademark. Don’t worry, 2012 Olympic folks, I don’t think anyone’s going to try to pass off that logo as their own work. Thinking about it, though, if I ever decide to give solitude and celibacy a try I might bootleg the logo and put it on a t-shirt, to be sure of repelling people.