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A symbol of harmony or aggression?

14 June 2007
A symbol of harmony or aggression?

Is the Olympic logo more National Front than national event? wonders Sebastian Conran, creative director, Conran & Partners

On the positive side the new 2012 Olympic symbol is original, contemporary, dynamic, distinctive, edgy and flexible - everything a good logotype should be. It has also been designed to be animated, and used in most foreseeable electronic media.

Clearly the initial reaction to the new logo has been overwhelmingly negative, which is perhaps due to the ineptitude of its launch rather than the slightly punk-revivalist graphic solution that has been offered. Ironically, I cannot remember such a brand furore since Wolff Olins launched the "prancing piper" identity for British Telecom in the 1980s.

The real issue caused by the new Olympic identity seems to be whether it's appropriate and emblematic of both the Olympic movement and London 2012.

A brand exists only in the mind of its audience, and logos, liveries and marketing paraphernalia are merely the visual manifestations of the brand, and as such they should trigger the required emotional response in the people who come into contact with it.

London 2012 logo
London 2012 logo
The initial message I receive from the logo is one of brashness, fragmentation and aggression - almost as if it is a cartoon image of an exploding grenade - perhaps more appropriate to the National Front than a national event which is meant to bring people, nations and cultures together.

Whether this will have the desired effect of attracting high-spending visitors to our restaurants and hotels, or be more likely to attract a football mob, we shall see.

However, it's how these graphic elements are used that's really the measure of their success. A fantastic example is the way that Nike has taken a modest tick symbol and empowered it with such imagination and life that it has now become one of the most recognised global brands with an almost religious following.

This implementation, rather than the logo's design, is where the most effort and expenditure is usually made when creating an identity for such entities.

Conversely, what the National Front and aggressive sports fans have done in hijacking the George Cross and the Union Jack may be a portent.

Is the new symbol emblematic of both the Olympic movement and London 2012, and will it attract high-spending visitors to our restaurants and hotels?

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