The other day I came across a puff piece written by a freelancer for Fast Company magazine which sought to suggest that Wolf Olins had known all along how well their logo would play at these Olympic Games and how their cunning plan had been amply vindicated by the emphatic success of London 2012 in the flesh.
The so-called back story to the strategy of the Games branding programme is a priceless piece of ex post facto rationalisation which plays fast and loose with the facts and does neither writer not the magazine a great deal of credit.
The lead in to these Games has been marked by the traditional disputes about expenditure and organisation, but on one thing at least, the nation was united: the logo was an ugly thing. Tabloids raged and the great British public fumed about how much better their offspring could have done than the prized organisation of Wolff Olins & Co.
Besides the ugly logo, came a typeface which seems to owe more than a hint to the work of theosophist Rudolph Steiner, founder of the Waldorf Schools and well known for his spiritually bold if somewhat childlike aesthetics. Que?! went the general response, Not on MY cafe menu you don’t.
These Games have been a massive — unexpectedly so — success in Britain and now the logo is benefiting from that bounce of emotional capital. But the core job of the branding — which was the first glimpse any in Britain had of the £9 billion project — had been to to secure the buy-in and support of those who were paying for this jamboree, the British taxpayer, and it did a dismal job of that. We hated it.
Have the mechanics of the branding been effective. Sure. But this was just a part of the brief, surely and the least relevant to us, the great unwashed who were paying for it.
Wolff Olins are sincerely the last people who should take credit for any of the success of London 2012. The feel good inside the country began with Danny Boyle’s love letter to the nation at the opening ceremony and the athletes have done the rest. The design heroes at the Games have been Stella McCartney’s sports gear and the world-beating design technology behind many of the sports. [ Fast Company ]