'Hideous and puerile': Olympics logo falls at the first hurdle

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Is it a multicoloured swastika? Is it the graffiti at your local bus stop? Or is it a sign to your nearest 80s disco? No, it's the new 2012 Olympics logo, unveiled yesterday to great fanfare from organisers and stinging criticism by the public.

Tony Blair says the Olympics will be one of "Britain's proudest moments" and its designers believe the logo will bring "inspiration" in "a brand-savvy world".

Bob Neill, the Conservative Party's Olympic spokesman called it " hideous ", adding: "We need to know how much money this exercise cost, because whatever it was, it's been a complete waste of money."

The general public have not been much more enthusiastic, with many airing their discontent. Commenting on the BBC news website, one thought it looked "like a chav running for an exit", while another described it as " ugly, cold and lacking in imagination".

The spiky logo, a stylised image of the number 2012, is part of a £500,000 branding of the Games. Sebastian Coe, chairman of the 2012 organising committee Locog, said at the design's launch in north London that it was part of a desire to encourage young people to get involved in the event.

"London 2012 will be everyone's games," said Lord Coe, "This is the vision at the very heart of the brand. It will define the venues we build and the Games we hold and act as a reminder of our promise to use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone and reach out to young people around the world."

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, was also at the unveiling at The Roundhouse in Camden. He said: "The new Olympic brand draws on what London has become, the world's most forward-looking and international city."

The logo, which comes in magenta, pink, orange and green, is the first in recent years not to include a reference to the host nation's national colours or flag. Although it incorporates the word "London", it lacks the implied patriotism of the Beijing 2008 or Athens 2004 logos, which used red and white, and blue and white respectively.

The brief was to create a brand that would last until the Games begin but its currently-fashionable 80s throwback quality has come under fire from critics who believe it is likely to look dated in five years' time.

Chris Bray, director of Logo Design, one of Britain's most experienced oldest graphic design companies, , said: "I don't understand what it is ... oh I see ... it makes a rather pathetic 2012. Well that's rubbish isn't it?"

His feelings were echoed by the design guru Stephen Bayley, founder of the Design Museum, who said: "It is a puerile mess, an artistic flop and a commercial scandal. It is feeble. It was a wonderful chance to do something magnificent and it was a waste of resources."

Wolff Olins was the agency chosen by Lord Coe to brand the games. As the first Olympics to use the same logo for the Olympics and the Paralympics, the designers' remit was to create a brand that would engage with the themes of "inspiration and participation". Wolff Olins believe its design is both modern and timeless: "Its shape will be a constant," the agency said. "Its style will give flexibility, inspiration and energy across every application. It is a powerful brand taking its place in a brand-savvy world. This includes a palette of colours, lines and shapes that create energy, inspiration and interest."

A spokesperson for the 2012 committee said it was too soon for people to deliver a considered verdict on the brand: "There's five years to go ... but a strong brand will always provoke strong reactions."

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