The London Olympic logo is launched to a barrage of criticism. Pointless? Puerile? A waste of money? Maybe. Or maybe it’s a sign of the shock of the new, the first reaction encountered by many acts of creative leadership.
The logo for the London 2012 Games will become ubiquitous. But you won’t find it replicated here for legal reasons.
I can’t say my first reactions to the new logo are particularly positive. But I don’t particularly dislike it, either. In some contrast, the pattern of dismay, outrage, and anger that accompanied its public appearance seemed to have much to do with an outburst against artistic efforts that challenge tradition. The shock of the new.
Culturally, it’s close to cliché to talk of the Shock of the New. If you can spare the time out of your life, there’s Robert Hughes’s epic explorations of the topic. The great ideas he touches on make the experience worthwhile. His laboured delivery is (just about) compensated for by his materials. His work has saved the rest of us a lot of effort digging up examples of the shock of the new.
Innovators have suffered the raging of ‘consumers’ for millenia. In ancient times there was rioting as modernizers challenged the conventions of classical Greek drama.
One of the most widespread reactions to a new idea is denial.
It can’t be done.
Like travelling faster than thirty miles an hour
ships made out of steel
a mass market for computing machines
Rites of Spring,
T S Eliot and poems that don’t go dumpty dumpty
OK, a recent addition to the illustrious list, Shockofthenew even if the official website does a good job triggering off some of those reactions against the new from me …
So what about the logo?
I can just about remember an old measure of creative preference. [Anyone out there able to help on this?] One of the zillions of
pen-and-paper tests. So-called creatives (the flakes) seemed to appreciate more complex, less symmetrical stimuli. And yes, less creative subjects tested rather liked nice symmetrical designs such as squares (these were unkindly called straights or squares). I’m risking getting into all sorts of judgemental deep waters here. The point is, that architects, designers, and other graphic arts professionals are a bit different from many people in their enthusiasm for complexity, zigginess and zagginess. Incidentally, other professionals like quantity surveyors, not to mention members of the House of Windsor often find the zigginess of architects, their extreme quirky-gerkhiness, very stressful … Unlike design-winning artists, these critics tend to be card-carrying non-flakes.
The idea must have been seen as a winner at Wolf Ollins, a great and creative design agency. It may yet fail to overcome the shock of the new. But whatever it is, the concept isn’t naïve. Such judgement would be what Picasso faced when accused of being naïve dauber, or to be a bit parochial, L S Lowry for long held to be someone who could only paint matchstick figures.
The fate of the logo may yet offer insights into the nature and trials of creative leaders and the processes of creative leadership.
The actual logo is protected under extremely strict intellectual property rules. Rather than risk tangling with the lawyers, I have left the logo of this blog, although you can see it on the site on using our brand.
In defense of the logo(s)
They look at bit strange, but my guess is that come 2012 they will look cool and fresh. This is because colours are subject to fashion and as such are ‘predicted’ years ahead. This way the textile designers, the product designers etc can co-ordinate together, and in cahoots with media, continually make sure that the colour of our clothes, cars etc is indicative of the time when then were produced.
New Colours and unification.
Any visitor to Liverpool, may notice that the wheelie bins are purple. The first thought might be, “why make the bins such a bright colour when they are symbols of rubbish. Surely best to camouflages them.” This is a fair point. However, the effect of having the purple object in so many instances in a context where there are no other occurrences of that particular colour is a magical one. It makes the street scene look unified, and if the place is a hotch potch of architectural styles in various states of disrepair / rejuvenation, somehow the new colour takes the tension out of the architecture / streetscape.
In 2012, the logo will be everywhere, it will unite London. It will add a layer of ephemeral modernness and put other information in the background. After the event, new stuff will blend in better visually.
The shape of the logo
The shape, which jars the eye in a browser or TV screen, will be distinct from other visual information competing for the consumers eye come 2012. The shape talks the language of angular futuristic ‘regeneration architecture’ typified by Frank Gerhey’s Guigenhiem in Bilbao, and we all have to remember, the legacies of the games is to be urban regeneration.
There are new buildings been built, the new logo is to be fixed on them. The shapes can be cut out of of materials such as glass and steel and mounted. The logo can be seen as a set of sculptural shapes rather than an image on a white background.
These new buildings will attempt to compete with ‘the Gherkin’ and buildings of its ilk to define the time, and the logo will continue to be a presence on them for their entire history. The design theory underpinning the logo may become as a welcome antidote to the curved corners of ‘Web 2.0 design.’ come 2012.
I think that over time, the shape and colour will be more identified with the event and the representation of ‘2012’ will retreat into the background. We will read it as symbol like people in cultures who don’t use the Western Alphabet represent their words. To these people, the logo might look very good and be highly distinctive. The logo would then be fit for purpose as a sign, telling strangers, or ‘guests’ to the city where to go.
Alex, this is by far the best critique of the logo that I’ve come across. Many thanks.
I’m going to try it out with a few of my contacts around sporting leadership. many thanks.
The BBC is still chuntering on, but more ‘churning than changing’