Branding London 2012 Summer Olympics

Branding London 2012 Summer Olympics

-Pooja Gupta|PGPM 2012-13|Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon

Games of XXX Olympiad or informally known as 2012 London Olympics witnessed its opening ceremony on 27th July 2012, marks the beginning of the 30th Olympics. The event will last till 12th August 2012. London will become the first city to officially host the modern Olympic Games three times, having previously done so in 1908 and in 1948. Following a bid headed by former Olympic champion Sebastian Coe and the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, London was selected as the host city on 6 July 2005 during the 117th IOC Session in Singapore, defeating bids from Moscow, New York City, Madrid and Paris.  Over 10,000 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are expected to participate.

Let us look at what the logo and mascots means and what they communicate:


The Logo

There have been two London 2012 Olympics logos:

  1.  For the bidding process created by an agency called  Kino Design.
  2. For the brand for the Games themselves

Logo used for bidding process

The logo was unveiled on November 17, 2003 at The Roundhouse in North London. This logo shows a ribbon with blue, yellow, black, green and red stripes winding through the text “LONDON 2012,” making the shape of the River Thames in East London.

The official logo for the 2012 London Olympics was unveiled at June 4, 2007. The agency behind the logo is Wolff Olins. This logo costs £400,000.

Official London 2012 Olympics Logo in 4 colors (Paralympics logo is at the extreme left)

Emblem and shape:

The mark is based on the year 2012 as basic elements of the emblem. The transform of the shape of the number is aimed to achieve a modern and meaningful effect.


The colors are inspired by the world of media, communications and fashion. It came in four basic color variants: pink, blue, green and orange. The addition of the buzz outline (seen in yellow) adds to the feeling of energy.


The designer delicately transformed the numbers into abstract ones. It aims to be simple but bold. The new logo is aimed at reaching out and engaging young people. By using interesting shapes and angles, and bright vibrant colors the logo creates a sense of energy.

This was the first time the Paralympics logo would be based on the same shape as the Olympic logo, “reflecting London’s commitment to hosting a truly integrated Paralympics Games. It includes more patterns within the shape and uses the Paralympics emblem instead of the Olympic rings.



The official mascots for the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games were unveiled on 19 May 2010. Wenlock and Mandeville are animations depicting two drops of steel from a steelworks in Bolton.

The  name Wenlock is inspired by Much Wenlock, a small town in Shropshire, which held a forerunner of the current Olympic Games  and Stoke Mandeville, a village in Buckinghamshire where a forerunner to the Paralympic Games were first held.

Wenlock (left) and Mandeville (Right)
Official Mascots of London 2012 Olympics

The designs were partially created from focus groups of children and families before being handed off to children’s author Michael Morpurgo to conceptualize an animated series.

Two stories have been created by Michael Morpurgo   about the mascots: Out Of A Rainbow and Adventures On A Rainbow. You can read the story at:

Both Wenlock and Mandeville have a significant presence online, with their own mascot website as well as individual Twitter and Facebook sites.


Description of each element of the mascots



The Torch was designed by east Londoners Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, who won the opportunity through a competitive tender run by the London 2012 Organizing Committee and the Design Council.

The Torch has perforated 8,000 circles representing the inspirational stories of the 8,000 Torchbearers who will carry the Olympic Flame. The triangular-shaped Torch was inspired by a series of ‘threes’ that are found in the history of the Olympic Games and the vision for the Olympic Movement. The gold color embraces the qualities of the Olympic Flame – the brightness and the warmth of the light that it shines. The torch has London 2012 Olympics logo in gold. The torch relay has been termed as “Moment to Shine” giving a sense of pride to 8,000 inspirational people who will carry the Olympic Flame as it journeys across the UK and this will be their moment to shine, inspiring millions of people watching in their community and worldwide.


Opening Ceremony:

The Olympic Cauldron burned brightly at the end of Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Fireworks explode above Tower Bridge in London on July 27, 2012, to celebrate the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games










The London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony took place at 9pm on 27 July 2012 and was titled ‘Isles of Wonder’. The Opening Ceremony reflected the key themes and priorities of the London 2012 Games, based on sport, inspiration, youth and urban transformation. The spectacular finale of the event saw the Olympic Cauldron, formed of 205 copper petals representing the competing nations coming together in London for the Games, ignited by seven young Torchbearers nominated by Britain’s past and present Olympic and sporting greats.

Seven chosen youngsters to light the cauldron were Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk, Cameron MacRitchie, Aidan Reynolds and Adelle Tracey, aged between 16 and 19


Branding failure:

The event failed in Visual communication. The logo and the mascot is an example of the same.

As per the organizing committee’s statement, the London 2012 Olympics aim to inspire the youth to take up sports. But the logo has no element of sport or even inspiration. In fact emphasis is only on 2012 and London. Olympics logo doesn’t get much of attention due to small size of 5 Olympics ring and rings being white in color. The size of Olympics rings is small and has been put into a weirdly shaped object which is supposed to be zero of 2012. The color of Olympics rings is also missing and is present only in the clear version of the logo, diminishing the essence of Olympics. Due to the edgy design, the reader at first reads the logo as “ZOR” and not “2012”. Apart from the clear version, the logo is officially also presented in 4 different colors: blue, green, orange and pink. The bright colors were chosen to connect to the young generation, but fail to do so.

Paralympics logo has pink color in the shape “2012” and has some patterns in it. Even here, the emphasis on Paralympics ribbons is less and the color of the ribbons is missing. No reason as to why the patterns are present in the logo.

At least equal emphasis should’ve been on the product which is “Olympics” here and not the venue or the year in which the event is being organized. The logo fails to show any element of sport or inspiration from the logo which is the mission of the event. The logo used for bidding was quiet effective and subtle and equal emphasis was put on London, the year 2012 and the Olympics game. The weirdly shaped logo in the form of 2012 put people in confusion. The bright colored logo has made some people complain that they got seizures after watching the logo. The courts in which sports are being conducted are also colored using the same color pattern which looks odd. For example, the hockey ground is blue on color and outside it has pink, unlike traditional green ground that is used for the sport.

The logo should be self-explanatory, should convey the message and no efforts should be required to explain the motive behind making of the logo. The product should get equal emphasis as other aspects of the logo.

The mascots have been made in an untraditional way and as stated come from a drop of steel, no reason why steel of drops is chosen to make the mascot. The mascots should look friendly and something that people could relate to and would feel comfortable with. The current mascots have one-eye and look more like some alien species. The naming of the mascots has been excellent by relating their name to the origin of Olympics. Creating a story around the mascot makes the audience curious and helps in publishing the event. The mascot here is made to wear friendship band in colors same as that of Olympics ring. Again, too little emphasis is given to it again due to size and position. But the streaks of Gold and Bronze are drawn on Wenlock’s body to symbolize the three Olympic medals. Mandeville, on the other hand, is designed to reflect the Paralympics icon, which is a combination of red, blue and green ribbons. Those same crescent shaped colors are reflected in Mandeville’s head.

The slogan “Inspire a Generation” was kept to inspire the youth to participate in the sports. But the slogan fails to convey the message. The question that arises in one’s mind is “Inspire a Generation to do what..??!!” , which remains unclear.  The slogan has been used to promote the event vastly to organize various programmes such as Inspire Programme, International Inspiration, Young Leaders Programme and Olympic Truce; apart from giving opportunities to university students to play their part in the London 2012 Games.

Olympics is such a big event that it remained unaffected by such small elements. Due to ineffective visual communication, the motive behind the event remains unstated and caused controversies and a petition to file.


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