The cost of branding: London 2012 Olympics logo


The new logo for the London 2012 Olympics

You might think that $840,000 would be a good price to pay for an upscale new home, or perhaps for a fleet of automobiles for your company. With over three-quarters of a million dollars, you could make some seriously valuable investments for your business. But tell us this: would you pay $843,182.15 Canadian for a new logo?

That’s the price tag attached to the new identity for the 2012 London Olympics. £400,000 was shelled out to branding studio Wolff Olins to create the new brand for London’s go at hosting the world’s longest-running multi-disciplinary athletics match.

With a look that is best described as “an inukshuk meets 1989,” the new brand is quite bold to so strongly evoke such a recently rejected design trend. Turquoise, pink, yellow and teal, screaming out from flamboyant lightning-bolt-like numbers is so uniquely late-eighties/early-nineties that it’s hard to envision its existence outside that time period itself. Fashion and design’s tendency to revive dead trends under the label of retro or vintage might mean that it’s time for the early 90s to become hip again — and the near-coolness of the brand’s intro page suggests that might be possible — but nonetheless, the bright, chunky stone-age logos are hard to imagine as anything more than just a little tacky. Or at least “ironic.”

The Eighties Equation

Wolff Ollins (whose flashy website proudly perpetrates the “We’re Not Telling You What We Do” problem) apparently has the clout to ask clients to cough-up almost a million dollars for their branding services. While it might be in the Olympics budget to afford such a fee, we encourage business owners that a good logo need not force you to sell all your company’s assets in order to pay the invoice on time.

For some interesting views on justifying the price of the London 2012 logo, dive into this AskMetafilter discussion. And for well-informed, well-written commentary on new brands, there’s always the brilliant Brand New.

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  • http://NONE CJ

    Wolff Olins were responsible for a couple of other huge re-brandings in the 80s and 90s that also came in for a slating.
    In this instance it is hard to see where the £400000 has been spent.
    Maybe by the time 2012 comes around we will be in a huge 1989 revival and George Michael will be our ambassador for the games and everyone will be wondering what the fuss is about. I think this is unlikely though. It’s rubbish now and it will be rubbish in 5 years time.

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  • John Tatom

    Quite an astonishing choice — however, in reviewing the half-dozen or so close runner-ups, it appears that all of the graphic designers involved shared a common timidity in their conceptions ——– polite, under – stated, lacking in punch, lettering scale too small for effect, and so on. This show needs a re-run if the London 2012 Olympiad is to sport a logo worthy of the greatness of the Olympic event, and the proud history of the Host City. Gratifying to see so much informed opinion and commentary.

  • Kazam Abdulh Aluke

    You should do a blog on Alberta Sheriff’s…..good brand or not?

  • David Sherwin

    Gawd, that logo is beyond retro… we’ve been arguing around the office about whether it sucks or not. Aren’t you thankful that Vancouver’s logo is so much more stately? Looks really good on the top of Whistler Peak too.

  • frannie

    redicolous its awful

  • Steve Jones

    wolff olins sucks. they are a crap company and have always been.