Update: If you are looking for a different perspective on this—check out what Coudal Partners has to say. It's a very thoughtful piece. But the more I think about this—the more I wonder if the London design may actually be art. Art can polarize. You can love it or hate it, have an appreciation or not. Art is fickle. It can spark debate, dialogue and conversation (good art often does). And personally, I've stood in front of art—where after several hours of pontification I convinced myself that what I was looking at was actually brilliant when initially I thought the opposite. So, maybe the logo is art. Should it be? Without over thinking this—I can confidently say the logo doesn't work for me. Just a personal opinion.
Oh, and one last thought. Anything that triggers epileptic seizures should be debated. :)
Before you read on—please take a look at these two visuals for at least 15 seconds.
OK, what do you think?
Here's what I think. I think we are looking at two examples of Graphic Design. One example is successful. The other is not as successful. Graphic Design falls under the broader category of Visual Communications. In order for Visual Communications to be successful, it must nail two things:
1. It must be visual
2. It must communicate
This is what the London 2012 site says about their visual identity (shown above)
"The new emblem is dynamic, modern and flexible. It will work with new technology and across traditional and new media networks."
This is what the design firm behind Chicago's 2016 effort put forth:
"The Chicago 2016 logo blends the colors of the five Olympic rings within torch-shaped vista of the city, from serene blue lake to vibrant green landscape to fiery skyline. It also evokes Chicago’s Games concept, to host compact Olympic Games celebrated in the center of the city, along the lakefront and in the city’s parks."
Is this really just a matter of taste? One could argue that London's logo is appealing to some. Maybe a younger demographic? Maybe older—I don't know, you tell me. But let's take a look at these examples from another perspective:
Which one solves a problem? In my opinion the Chicago identity tells us two things immediately:
And yes—from a personal preference I think it's visually appealing and does capture the vibrancy of Chicago's lakefront through the color. What's my point in all of this? My point is that I have a gut feeling something went horribly wrong during London's design process. Maybe someone thought the identity really did look "dynamic, modern, and flexible".
The London identity is supposed to read "2012". I didn't see it. Did you? What could have helped the London 2012 committee avoid this? The committee could have realized they had a problem to solve. The problem was how to successfully communicate London's enthusiasm and passion for the Olympic spirit. Maybe they were solving for the wrong problem—or worse yet just following an exercise in style.
The identity fails because it doesn't successfully communicate London, or the Olympic spirit. It doesn't tell a story. Instead it focuses on translating "dynamic, modern, and flexible". Seth says it best: