London 2012 Olympic Logo / A Disgrace

High profile logos always get criticized. Here in Nottingham UK, the cities logo was recently redesigned. The new design moved away from the Robin hood / Sherwood forest image and they came up with a wonky "N". When it launched it didn't go down too well. However the criticism that that received was nothing in comparison with the 2012 logo.

London 2012 Logo

The 2012 Logo

I would like to take moment to go through why I think this is a bad brand identity by looking at each element and then looking at the over-all persona it gives off.

The Jagged '201-2'

The text in the logo are two examples of poor typography. The main shapes of the logo are supposed to say "2012". This Is the first problem. It doesn't immediately communicate this and looks to me like a few shattered pieces of jagged coloured glass giving the whole thing a complicated look. There seems to be a dash between the "1" and the "2" on the lower line for some reason. In my opinion, if you are going to use type, use it so that people can read it. A brand identity needs to have all its parts working to appeal to its audience. It shouldn't have any areas which cause confusion. If its going to be abstract, then make it abstract to a degree that doesn't cause people problems. If you want to get people to stop and look twice at something, do it in your poster advertising, not on your branding.

The Word 'London'

Included on these jagged 2012 digits is the word "London". It is in lower case and it is in italics. To me these are big no-no's. Italics are used to emphases type in large blocks and should be used sparingly as this format is difficult to read. Also for a brand as important to London as this one is, I think they should have used an upper case "L". There seems to be no reason why this is all in lower case.

The font is hand written and has been designed specifically for the brand. It looks a little like "comic sans" and to me is an embarrassment. Ok, the brand needs to look friendly but it doesn't need to look patronizing and childlike. What will the rest of the world think!

In today's brand infested society I feel that the typeface of a brand has become very important. If this typeface is supposed to communicate the Olympics then I think somebody has gone wrong. The Olympics are the height of professional competitiveness. Yes, it is about involvement at all levels but I think you should depict the top level so that others aspire to reach it, not the bottom level.

The 'Olympic Rings'

These look completely out of place on this identity. The ragged edges of the shapes do not seem to fit with the circles. They have been placed on the top right area of the identity and on the top right the word London appears. This brings a "top heavy" look.


I think the emphasis on directing the brand to younger people is the main mistake of this logo. By all means direct your messaging in posters, advertising or new media to a young audience but this brand should be all inclusive. By that I mean it should represent a high class athlete training 10 hours a day with a main aim of winning. I highly doubt a top athlete will look at this brand and think "yeah that really depicts what I'm doing here".

In my view this is not the way to approach the younger generation. Young people need something to look up to, it aspire to, this brand looks like something from nickelodeon and may well have a reversed effect.


It has been argued that although the brand isn't traditional, it is recognizable. In my view this is just an excuse. You could use this to justify anything in design.

I agree that this brand will be recognized but I pose a question. If you had a square with reverse out text saying "London 2012", would be recognized? Of course it would because this is one of the most important sporting events for the UK in recent history. Whatever is designed it will be recognized.

I agree we need to push boundaries but we need to build on the good things that make up a solid logo. What they have done is build on bad things and created a child orientated logo.


Overall I feel that it is not stylish, not aspiration and doesn't convey the Olympics to an all inclusive audience. What it does well is communicate vibrancy through its colours, a childlike persona through its style and a good example of a bad logo. The very thinking behind the brand, its target audience and its construction seems a little out of tune with what the Olympics in the UK is all about. This is a poor illustration of what our industry is capable of and I for one am embarrassed at this disgrace.

2012 examples

Matt Davies
Creative Director Attitude Design 


I love it and think its modern and different

I'm one of the main in opposition. However, I found a solution! Check it out:

I have recently been assigned a project for my graphic design class. We are meant to find a poorly designed logo, draw a sketch of it, and then redesign it in a more appropriate way. After finding this logo, I have decided to use it for my project. Until i read your site i had no idea what the logo was portraying. Thank you for your site. I found it extremely helpful.

I wasn't sure about this design at first but I'm starting to like it now. It is completely different to other logos of the Olympics which really makes it stand out.

Apparently Iran thinks it contains the word 'Zion' in it. When I first looked at it, it looked like a person touching one toe, but I admit I can see Z I O N , if you read top left, then down, then top right then down.

I think the London 2012 logo is ridiculous! I bet we would have a better out come if a 2 yr old had of done it. It's TERRIBLE! When I first saw the awful logo I automaticly looked at the random dash between the 1 and 2. Who the hell though of that!?! Someone, somewhere has thought that it would be 'cool' to have a weird shattered glass theme! Please, please, please sort that thing out!

PLEASE, if we ever get a chance to host another Olympics can we please allow the school children to design the logo, as they would do a better job and one we could understand. It wouldn't look half as childish as the one we have now! What is it with glass logo? Shatter it some more and then bin it, never to resurface again. Please delete any reference to that logo!

As per Adrian's request I have now set this up a little more officialy.

Check out 2012 Logo - Can you do better? and submit your alternative logos!


This logo does not represent the Olmypics..what it stands for, what the people who participate go through and endure to get there. The Olympics is top dog in the sporting world, you cannot treat it as some high school sports day! Yes, we want younger people to join in, support and embrace the games, but it's the history, tradition and honour that will do that, not some funky new logo.

Athletes aspire to the Olympics because it's the highest honour you can have, to hold a gold medal at the Olympics, not because it's's serious business and the logo should have reflected this.

I agree with past comments the typography for London is just wrong wrong wrong, far too close to comic sans, and just looks childish.

The rings..well what can i say.. aren't they multicoloured for a reason!? Surely that is undermining the Olympic brand essence, nevermind the London one. I'm sorry but if someone changed the corporate brand of the company I work for that drastically, I don't think they'd be too happy! It's part of what makes the Olympic brand memorable.

The colours are bright and garish and do definitley not portray the skill, effort and professionalism of ALL those involved in the games, from organisers to the competitors.

All i can say is... what were they thinking!? Leave the advertising to target the younger audience, give back the brand it's prestige!!

I don't know if I can do better but yes, I agree with what has been said here that the logo looks childlike. The first time I saw the logo, I couldn't immediately recognize what the shapes was until a couple seconds letter that it was numbers. This already said that the brand isn't doing a good job.

My colleague also mentioned that there was a short advertising put out in YouTube for a day or two with this logo emblazoned on it, flashing really fast and it apparently have triggered seizures on folks who have epilepsy.

I realise I'll be shot down screaming in flames for this but after looking at it again for a while i'm starting to get used to it. The different parts somehow look like countries to me, the first 2 could well be an abstract Britain.

I agree about the lowercase London though, that's just bad form and not setting an example in an age where language is being shredded daily anyway.

I think it's vibrant anyway and tenatively put forward that perhaps we might (might!) grow to tolerate, if not like it. Not a great start for an identity but perhaps any PR is good PR.

Flame away!

I like it, it's bends traditions, looks unconventional and is simply different..isn't that just London? I agree with some of the above connotations, however wait until 2012 and I think things will all come together. They've got some balls.

I particularly like the map of Australia in the top right hand corner.

You've hit the nail on the head there - Nickelodeon. It reminds me so much of that - too brash and childlike for an event such as the Olympic games.

I don't like the Nottingham re-brand either, but it's preferable to the old Robin Hood stereotype that is trotted out for American tourists!

My review of the 2012 logo is here:

Glance at it for a second and then look away - ask yourself, what the hell did I just look at? Thats the same question I found myself asking after catching a glimpse of it. It's hard to figure out at the best of times, it took me about a minute before I realised that "jagged mess" was supposed to say 2012.

This is a case of where art meets disaster. I can't give my support for this logo in any way, its poorly designed and I've seen many better logos put forward as alternatives. Hell I'd support a single line of black text with "london 2012" much easier than this...and for £400,000!!? It was easier than stealing, at least theives who get that ammount of money have the curtesy to wear a ski mask! Gees!

I looked at the logo a few times but I have never seen 2012. What I was was an athlete standing-by to take off on a sprint. Anyway I didn't like it either. I also think the recognizability of a brand doesn't depend as much as poor/bold/whatever logo but on the amount of money spend on advertising it. Give me one bilion dollars to spend on advertising and any, I mean any, logo will become recognizabile.

Yep, I agree with the above comments. I've seen better graffiti on city overpasses. Plus it reminds me of a dayglow ski jacket I once had back in 1980. Some kids in my nieghborhood could have done a better job especially for that kind of money. Jeez!

"Childish" is a great way to describe the 2012 logo.

I don't know why, but I always feel creeped out when these huge, global organizations attempt to disarm its audience with childish marking, design and public relations. The Olympics is not pure, innocent, or naive, so projecting such a "We Are the World" image seems disingenuous and condescending.

The Olympics is a sophisticated, prestigious, competitive million-zillion dollar organization and should market itself as such.

This logo is an utter disappointment and the accompanying adverts show a level of design not dissimilar to the effects used on late 80's children's TV shows on the BBC.

I didn't think that a logo could be much worse that the Sydney 'Zooo' (Olympics 2000)design. Unfortunately, I was wrong. With so many excellent design houses in the UK, there is surely someone capable of creating a logo that speaks to as many people as the Olympics does. Alas. At least it will take the horror away from the debacle that will be actually running an Olympics in this country.

To be honest i feel sorry for the design company. Can you imagine the size of the committee that they had to deal with. We have all been there...

I looked at that logo once and now it's permanently burned onto my retina's! The colours!! It's so bright and disgusting! Just complete cack!

Don't forget that the animated version of the logo has caused some individuals to go into seizures. I'd say that's generally a form of bad design. You know... when people are debilitated just from looking at it.

Does anyone know the agency responsible for this poor excuse of a brand?

Yes, agreed.
Which company designed it?

It would be fun to have a little competition to design something we consider better...

The company who produced this are called Wolff Olins and I was a little unsure as to whither to name them because of professionalism - we are not aware of all the facts and we all know what its like when working with a client. I'm not sure how much of this logo has been pushed by the Olympic Comitee rather than the design firm so my focus is on the logo not the people behind it. However this really has been pretty bad press for them espicially as this logo comes with a £400,000 price tag (which I assume is not for its implimentation, just for the design - please correct if I'm wrong)...

An exhibition of good 2012 logos - yes that would be fun. Send in some logos - I'll do one as well when I get a sec. Email matt*(at)* Good idea Adrian!