Logo or Emoticon?

Chris Arning

The London 2012 logo met with a public backlash when it launched. Within hours of the launch, an online petition was set up asking for a new logo or a return to the bid design. The petition quickly received more than 40,000 signatures. To many the logo feels maladroit and sloppily put together. It is certainly true that the lurid colours made it an easy target for criticism. The commentary has been long on spleen, rhetoric and satire – but there has been little sober analysis of the logo and its rationale.

London 2012: this Olympic logo is a special type of icon, an emoticon


For instance, London Design Museum founder and cultural commentator Stephen Bayley described it as 'a puerile mess, an artistic flop and a commercial scandal'. Others have compared it to Lisa Simpson performing fellatio. This has got people talking, and is evidence of its salience and impact. It has become the logo that people love to hate. But I wonder whether the loathing would be quite as deep-seated or the criticism as vindictive if there had been greater empathy for the thinking behind the symbol.