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#017: Design’s Demeanor

“we live in a brand savvy world where young people no longer relate to static logos but will respond to a dynamic brand”

Design's Demeanor

Unveiled a week ago, the logo for the 2012 London Olympic Games has come under much criticism. Described by Paul Deighton, olympic organising chief, as “dynamic, modern, flexible” the logo has been designed by Wolff Ollins for multi-media use and as such is a flexible design that moves about on screen. The animation for the brand has been found to cause epileptic seizures, which is undeniably unacceptable, but aside from this issue many people have complained about the graphic design of the logo itself.

An online petition to scrap the logo reached 50,000 signatures. The public seemed to be insensed that the brand cost £400,000 to create yet seems happy to scrap it to spend even more money on creating another. The fact that so many people seem to be against the logo is a sure indication of it’s success.

“this brand is distinct and different from any other games image because our games will be distinct and different” - Paul Deighton

“It is a deliberate change from previous Olympic logos, which often feature an image from the city.” - BBC

Have critics of the logo been too short-sighted? If a logo was revealed today that everyone was happy with, it would be stale by the time the Olympics arrived, which will not be until 2012.

“(the brand) will have to inspire us just as much in 5 years’ time as it does today” - Paul Deighton

Wolff Ollins have done a great job as graphic designers by focussing on the future in 2012 and creating a forward-thinking logo. How will we want our Olympics presented in 5 years? Challenging and innovating will always come at a price, and as such I think that the Olympic committee is right to stand by the logo.

Let’s have a look at some other high-profile logos and see if there’s any similarity…

Design's Demeanor
The 2000 Expo in Hanover used a completely abstract logo.
Design's Demeanor
The 2005 Expo in Japan (the home of good design according to some) had a… boring logo to say the least.
Design's Demeanor
Athens Olympics 2004 had a bit of plant for a logo - how about that London? Didn’t think so.

The World Cup has a history of colourful and abstract logos -

Design's Demeanor
Korea/Japan 2002
Design's Demeanor
Germany 2006
Design's Demeanor
South Africa 2010

“there have been some problems… the two main ingredients have to be ‘2012′ and ‘London’” - Richard Voysey (co-designer of BBC’s ‘replacement’ logo)

“any unveiling for this particular event, the logo was always going to come up for a lot of scrutity… anything is going to get a level of criticism”

“our only view about the existing olympic logo and the official one is how it will work for sponsorship (and) merchandising”

“public hasn’t connected with it… the key values of what the olympics is all about… that is what they’ve not conveyed”- Chris Voysey (co-designer of BBC’s ‘replacement’ logo)

One of the problems is that the public is presented ‘design’ as a commodity. In magazines and newspapers design will often be placed under ’styles’ pages as hot new products and technology rather than in the ‘culture’ pages where you would find comment on art, film and architecture.

Graphic designers are probably the least respected design profession, demonstrated by the criticism of the Olympic logo, because of their representation (or lack of). People have not thought about the creative process that will have produced the final product. Don’t think for a moment that £400,000 went to Wolff Ollins for just sitting down with a pencil and drawing a logo up in a day. The design process is always just that - a process - and the end product will come after stages and stages of refinement, research, previous knowledge and thinking. To dislike the logo is perfectly fine, everyone has different tastes, but to suggest that the logo should be scrapped is a direct insult to the designers, suggesting that their job is ephemeral and that anyone could create a better logo (the BBC entries prove this wrong! see here, here, here and here).

Rick Pornor (founder and former editor of Eye magazine) comments “There’s a feeling in the mainstream media… that no design knowledge can be taken for granted in the reader” and as such, despite plenty of design coverage, there is limited actual media analysis of design. Because they have been taken for idiots, the public now feels unequipped to investigate design themselves, instead relying on the opinions of others to form their own. Are people afraid of the new? No, but if people feel they don’t understand something, one high-profile criticism will lead to many using the same argument, unable to develop their own input.

A BBC correspondent commented “we love nothing more than knocking a good logo”.

Many designers have felt for a long time that design critique should not be left to designers, but the general public should feel able to interact and place comment. The key to this point is that this has not been happening, so that we reach a point this last week where the (vocal) public has spoken out against the design of the Olympic logo, having been sparked by the logo’s issues with epilepsy, which is a rather separate issue. The result is a feeling of The Public vs. The Designers, whereas the public and designers should be integrated and the real issue behind this incident is why do the public feel surprised (and angry) by the logo? Because they’re not down with design. Then again, perhaps the public is still being taken for granted… should the logo be redesigned?

2 Responses to “#017: Design’s Demeanor”

  1. Alison Says:

    I think the elements that the design embodies are innovative and groundbreaking. I love the idea of an interactive logo: filled with other pictures and colors, animated, and free form. I’m absolutely down with design. I’m down with graphic design and graffiti art. In fact, I’m the “brands” target audience. however, I believe this could have been done in a more beautiful way. An actual graff artist would never approve. It has no contrast whatsoever. That’s key for visibility. I’m not knocking the concept, but maybe the logo itself should be redesigned. My personal thought was that it should be more classic pop art: think Campbell’s Soup; and less MTV’s Launch Promo. I’m voting and watching for better submissions at http://www.betterlondonlogo.co.uk. Something better may come up.

  2. simon Says:

    the logos sick, haters can fuck off

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