london olympics 2012: the look of the games
london olympics 2012: the look of the games london olympics 2012: the look of the games
jul 23, 2012

london olympics 2012: the look of the games

london olympics 2012 – the look of the games

in four days time the london olympics will finally get underway. here we look at some of the designs that will help form ‘the look’ of the 2012 games.

the overall look of the 2012 games has been overseen by mccann worldgroup in collaboration with london’s organizing committee. over the past 3 years they’ve collaborated with several designers, architects, advertisers, sponsors and others to implement an impressive visual identity that will be seen across the world for much of the next month.

2012 london olympics logo by wolff olins image: LOCOG

logo by wolff olins the logo needs little introduction, love it or hate it, you certainly recognize it. designed by wolff olins in 2007 the logo aimed to attract the attention of a young audience and enthuse them about the games imminent arrival to the british capital.

wolff olins worked with london’s organizing committee (LOCOG ) to define a clear ambition for london 2012. these games were to be everyone’s. they would call on people to challenge themselves – to try new things, to go further, to discover new abilities. the brand we created supports this ambition.

2012 london olympics logo by wolff olins image: wolff olins the emblem is 2012, an instantly recognizable symbol and a universal form one already closely associated with the games in london. it is unconventionally bold, deliberately spirited and unexpectedly dissonant, echoing london’s qualities of a modern, edgy city.

containing neither sporting images nor pictures of london landmarks, the emblem shows that the games are more than london, more than sport. the games are for everyone, regardless of age, culture and language. the emblem is designed to be populated, to contain infills and images, so it is recognizable enough for everyone to feel and be part of london 2012.

2012 london paralympics logo by wolff olins image: LOCOG

for the first time ever, the olympic and paralympic games will share the same brand, using their own variant of the emblem. and in another first, the cultural olympiad will be able to share the brand. with the addition of the commercial partners, this will be the most cohesive olympic brand in history. new technology is being put in place to get everyone closer to the action and more deeply involved.

variations of the 2012 london olympics logo by wolff olins image: LOCOG

2012 london olympics typeface by alias image: alias

typeface by alias / gareth hague ‘the logo was already designed before alias became involved in the project, wolff olins had used our ‘klute’ typeface as its starting opine and because of this they thought it would be appropriate for us to design a typeface to accompany it.

the type was briefed and designed to work as a dramatic, powerful and characterful headline type, for use at large sizes, working within and supporting the logo’s pre-defined system of angles and shapes. the typeface does this by being linear and graphic rather than typographic, by capturing a spirit of simplicity, modernity and angular geometry.

– gareth hague, alias


2012 london olympics pictograms by someone image: LOCOG pictograms by someone 38 olympic pictograms designed by someone will be used on merchandise, signs and tickets, environmental graphics and signage – helping spectators find their way to their sport of choice when the olympics begin.

pictograms of each sport were first used at the 1948 games in london and have become a regular feature of the olympic movement since the tokyo games in 1964. otl aicher’s pictograms for the 1972 olympics in munich are largely regarded as the design benchmark.

‘we wanted to make sure that whatever we came up with was a great piece of design but it also worked hard for our identity… to create an asset that we, our licensees and our partners would use in more creative ways than just at games time – we really wanted to push the concept for the pictograms and one of the outcomes of this was to create two style versions – a silhouette version used for high visibility and information-based applications, and a dynamic version used both as decoration and where a more exciting version is called for. – do I believe they could rival the munich games’ versions? absolutely, because I strongly believe these will touch and inspire everyone – whether in london, the UK or more widely around the world.’

– yasmine say, london 2012 organizing committee (LOCOG)

by continuing the outline of the logo ‘shard’ patterns are formed image: futurebrand

visual identity system by futurebrand as part of the mccann worldgroup, futurebrand’s role involved developing ‘the look’ of london 2012 and an developing an identity system that works across every touchpoint. from venues, signage, interior dressing, street dressing, ticket design, medal ribbons, the cars that would ferry athletes around; essentially every physical touch-point that spectators, sponsors, officials, the media and athletes would come into contact with during the course of london 2012, both in london and across the UK.

‘the core idea was to use the lines and shards ­that the logo emanates, creating a ‘burst of energy’.­ whether the entire field of play with the seating becoming a huge graphic, or simply surrounding the olympic rings with the burst, printed on a coral on the field of play. it all goes back to the idea of a festival of human endeavour, with athletes pushing beyond their personal best.’

‘the grid is used in a flexible and dynamic way, creating shards patterns and textures that radiate from a central focal point. the joy of this graphic device is that it can be adapted across lots of different spaces and places yet remain clearly recognisable and consistent. this means we can tell a single design story, from the seating bowl designs to the patterning on the concourse.’

‘the ensuing look is provocative, unexpected, distinctive and bursting with life. it captures the youthful spirit of london and the energy of the games. this core look has evolved to create separate but related identities for each of main sub brands that are a vital part of the london 2012 experience such as – games makers, get set programme, torch relay and london 2012 festival. each has to remain true to the core spirit of the games but develop a distinct take on it.’

– matt buckhurst, creative director, futurebrand london

drawing showing how the ‘shard’ gird pattern is applied to stadium seating image: futurebrand

olympic stadium seating by futurebrand this is a good examples of how the grid system can be applied even to the largest applications. this design approach was used at a macro level across stadia and concourses down to a more micro level on individual corals around the field of play where the focal points of the burst are the olympic rings.

as the budgets were never going to be on the scale of beijing we came up with clever ideas, like building the visual look into the seating bowls and flooring (no extra cost for changing the seat colours or aggregate used on concourse areas).

drawing showing how the ‘shard’ gird pattern is applied to stadium seating image: futurebrand

olympic stadium seating image: LOCOG / getty

seating and staidum wrap at the olympic stadium image: LOCOG / getty

track numbers set in the 2012 typeface designed by alias image: LOCOG / getty

basket ball arena stadium seating image: LOCOG / getty

hockey stadium seating image: LOCOG / getty


ground view of stadium wrap by sophie smallhorn image: LOCOG / getty


stadium wrap by sophie smallhorn the wrap by sophie smallhorn is formed from canvas banners that run from the top to the bottom of the stadium’s exterior, creating 300 slit-like entrances. each banner is assigned a different colour from a palette of 56 colours in total to create an undulating effect.

stadium wrap by sophie smallhorn image: sophie smallhorn


stadium wrap by sophie smallhorn image: sophie smallhorn


entrance gantry at the olympic stadium image: surface architects

wayfinding signage by surface architects surface architects were appointed to work with LOCOG and ISG in the design and delivery of a family of high profile wayfinding structures for the 2012 olympic park. the proposals combine historic vectors and iconic influences into a highly distinctive design that fits LOCOG’s original ‘look and feel’ brief. TFL’s johnston typeface is used on the signage in addition to the 2012 typeface. ‘each form incorporates LED backlighting, creating a field of glowing beacons across the stratford park. six 7m high zone beacons, five 15m high major beacons and two 12m high entrance gantries are currently being constructed. all are designed from sustainably sourced fabrics and will be dismantled, recycled and reused post games.’

– surface architects

entrance gantry being contsructed at the olympic stadium image: LOCOG / getty

signage diagram image: surface architects

signage diagram image: surface architects

wayfinding beacon by surface architects image: surface architects

wayfinding beacon by surface architects image: surface architects

wayfinding beacon by surface architects image: surface architects

wayfinding beacon by surface architects image: LOCOG / getty


360 view of one of the smaller the signage beacons image: surface architects

wayfinding beacon by surface architects image: surface architects

side view image: surface architects

stratford subway station image © designboom

central park bridge by heneghan peng architects image: LOCOG / getty

central park bridge by heneghan peng architects while heneghan peng architect‘s central park bridge falls under the olympics architectural program we have included it here because of its graphic nature, for sure this will be a favorite of broadcasters and photographers.

the central park footbridge spans over the river lea at a focal point between the olympic stadium and aquatics centre, and features both permanent and temporary elements to integrate games and legacy use.

detail of the multicolored rubber deck featured on the central park bridge by heneghan peng architects image: LOCOG / getty the bridge features two permanent footbridges linked by a central blade-like walkway, creating a ‘Z’ shape clad in mirror-finish stainless steel that spans the river lea. for games-time, a multi-coloured temporary deck has been placed between the permanent spans of the bridge to increase the width, allowing it to carry increased spectator numbers. the temporary games-time bridge deck has been covered with a multi- coloured rubber surface inspired by the london 2012 brand colours.

after the games, the temporary bridge surface will be removed to create new links from the olympic park concourse level down to the river tow paths and carpenters lock, a 1930’s historic structure on the river lea owned by british waterways.

central park bridge by heneghan peng architects image: LOCOG / getty

the areas around the legacy bridge will be landscaped to create new meeting spaces

and the permanent structural elements of the bridge will be further revealed with its

mirror-finished stainless steel cladding designed to reflect the sunlight off the water

in the river lea. a total of 125 tonnes of steel was used in the construction of the

central park bridge which has a games-time width of 58 metres, with the two main

permanent sections spanning 30m in length.

the central park bridge, which was last week shortlisted in the prime ministers better

public building awards, is part of the wider structures, bridges and highways project

– the single biggest construction project the oda has delivered to create new connections

across the olympic park. construction work is now 90 per cent complete on more than

30 new bridges and underpasses that cross waterways, roads and rivers to create

a connected, open and accessible olympic park for games and legacy.

you can find more about the central park bridge here


fully dressed water polo venue – banners and environmental graphics by futurebrand image: LOCOG / getty


fully dressed water polo venue image: LOCOG / getty

fully dressed water polo venue image: LOCOG / getty

fully dressed water polo venue image: LOCOG / getty

fully dressed water polo venue image: LOCOG / getty

archery which will take place at lords cricket ground will look something like this image: LOCOG / getty

hockey field using the london 2012 brand colors image: LOCOG / getty

dressed BMW with graphics by futurebrand will make up the majority of the 2012 olympics vehicles fleet image: futurebrand


dressed BMW with graphics by futurebrand image: futurebrand

dressed BMWs with graphics by futurebrand  image: futurebrand

walk in the park identity by futurebrand image: futurebrand

walk in the park identity by futurebrand ‘walk in the park’ gives you the chance to see the olympic parklands from a completely different angle, surrounded by meadows, trees, flowers and wildlife – and to discover fascinating facts about its history and redevelopment. whether you have time for a 30-minute stroll or a three-mile walk, it’s the perfect way to explore the olympic park – just follow the butterflies along the trail.

  view of the parklands image: LOCOG / getty 250 acres of new parklands, on former industrial land, that will provide a colourful and festival atmosphere for the london 2012 games and afterwards become the largest new urban park in the UK for over a century.

over 1,500 trees have been planted along with thousands of wetlands plants and the wetland bowl in the north of the park is complete with 15,000 square metres of riverside spectator lawns, timber seating, frog ponds, loggeries, wetlands, woodlands and tree-lined footpaths.

walk in the park identity by futurebrand image: futurebrand

just follow the butterflies along the trail image: futurebrand

olympic torch relay identity by futurebrand image: futurebrand

torch relay identity by futurebrand the olympic flame is an iconic symbol. the moment when the torch passes through their neighbourhood is the moment when the olympic games becomes ‘real’ to them. it is a moment when people feel connected to what can seem like a distant entity. we wanted to make the most of this feeling of being ‘part of it’. we invited the public to nominate people they knew personally, inspiring people, to become a torch bearer. we encouraged the public to ‘give people their moment to shine.’

olympic torch relay uniform by adidas and livery by futurebrand image: futurebrand the sentiment is reflected in advertising and design. the design used the idea of reflected and refracted light, always harking back to the flame itself. this design motif appears across print, web and even the livery of the british airways plane bringing the flame from athens.

at the end of the application process we had found enough inspirational people to fill the available torch bearer places tenfold. everyone nominated by their own peers, nominated to proudly bear the torch through the streets of their own neighbourhoods.

olympic torch relay livery by futurebrand image: futurebrand

detail of the olympic torch relay livery by futurebrand image: futurebrand

british airways firefly with graphics by futurebrand image: futurebrand

british airways firefly with graphics by futurebrand image: futurebrand

aaron bell holds the olympic flame at the historic estate of temple newsam in leeds at the end of day 37 of the london 2012 olympic torch relay image: LOCOG / getty

olympic torch by barberosgerby winner of the london design museum ‘design of the year’ 2012, the torch is made from a golden aluminium alloy that is perforated by 8000 circular holes, each representing one of the 8000 torch-bearers that will take part in the olympic relay. it has a height of 800mm and weighs 800g. more information about the torch can be found here and here.

paralympic graphics on the torch designed by barberosgerby image: LOCOG / getty


medals by david watkins image: LOCOG / getty medals by david watkins the medals’ circular form is a metaphor for the world. the front of the medal always depicts the same imagery at the summer games – the greek goddess of victory, nike, stepping out of the depiction of the panathinaiko stadium to arrive in the host city.

the core emblem is an architectural expression, a metaphor for the modern city, and is deliberately jewel-like. the river thames in the background is a symbol for london and also suggests a fluttering baroque ribbon, adding a sense of celebration.  the square is the final balancing motif of the design, opposing the overall circularity of the design, emphasizing its focus on the centre and reinforcing the sense of ‘place’ as in a map inset. the ribbons used for the medals were designed by futurebrand.

olympic winners podium by kims image: kims

podium and ceremonial costumes by RCA students the royal purple podiums and costumes were created by students at the royal college of art (RCA) in london. the students have worked with london 2012 over the last eight months to create and develop the designs.

when designing the podiums, the team of students – gaetano ling, hong-yeul eom, luc fusaro, heegun koo and yan lu – used dynamic lines representing the energy that the games and athletes represent. 40 podiums will be used across all the victory ceremonies and approximately 4,400 medal-winning athletes will stand on them to celebrate their success formally.


olympic winners podium and ceremonial cotume image: LOCOG / getty

the ceremonial costumes will be worn by games maker volunteers in athlete and presenter escort roles and flower and medal bearer roles. the elegant and dynamic designs by students thomas crisp and trine hav christensen represent london and its architecture with a modern twist. when designing the costumes the students were inspired by greek mythology as well as british heritage. a hat will also be worn by the presenter escorts. the inspiration for this design by former student zara gorman included the architecture of the london 2012 olympic and paralympic games venues combined with aspects of british tailoring and sportswear.

tickets by futurebrand image: futurebrand

tickets by futurebrand designed by futurebrand, the tickets incorporate someone’s pictogram designs toegther with images of the venues each ticket features the relevant sport pictogram. a specific colour scheme is used to denote each venue and use a hologram, a barcode as security measures.

olympic merchandise store by futurebrand image: futurebrand

merchandise shop by futurebrand the merchandise shop had to reflect the core brand values of london 2012. but, it also had to be an efficient and commercially viable retail space, driving flow through the shop and up to the till.

olympic merchandise store by futurebrand image: futurebrand

olympic mascots ‘wenlock’ and ‘mandeville’ by iris image: futurebrand


‘wenlock’ and ‘mandeville’ mascots by iris ‘wenlock’ and ‘mandeville’ designed by iris are just as flexible as the rest of the 2012 identity, with their appearance changing to incorporate different elements of the branding elements. the one-eyed characters were created from the last two drops of british steel used for the london 2012 olympic stadium – more information on the mascots can be found here.

sonnet wenlock, part of stroll: discovery trails image © designboom

london 2012 festival billboard by futurebrand image: futurebrand

london 2012 festival identity by futurebrand the cultural olympiad runs alongside the olympic and paralympic games. it is a little known and often misunderstood part of the games experience. the challenge is to drive awareness of it and make it seem inviting and approachable. for many people ‘culture’ can seem heavy and ominous. calling it london 2012 festival was the first step to making it more accessible. the second step was the development of the pink ribbon, a symbol of celebration and inclusiveness.

london 2012 festival guide by futurebrand image: futurebrand

london 2012 festival guide by futurebrand image: futurebrand

london 2012 festival billboard by futurebrand image: futurebrand

london 2012 festival graphics by futurebrand applied to turner margate galler image: futurebrand

  • Not bad at all now you see everything together.

    Steve, Shoreditch says:
  • The more I see the logo, the less I like it.

    Joelity says:
  • It looks fantastic, now that everything has been put to-gether. Well done. You’ve made us proud.

    Damy. Ashton u lyne. Gtr Manchester says:
  • The more I see the logo, the more I like it. Great branding.

    shortwood says:
  • logo, typeface, colors, architecture ok but; pictograms: middling

    qq says:
  • The more I see that logo, the more I see Lisa Simpson (doing something).

    Gumple says:
  • over creqative…….awasome……..wishing you a good time

    devin says:
  • I think my favourite parts are the Festival designs for the billboards and the printed guide. The tickets look fantastic too – probably goes for all the print. Not so sure about the ceremonial uniforms but the signage works for sure. I’ve gathered together a few of the TV commercials from the companies sponsoring the games, they’re all available on YouTube but you might check this page for an overview of the sponsors:

    sc says:
  • thanks for the photos of the games, however these graphics are not very exciting or well designed. They are pretty boring, especially when viewing them on TV. The hot pink gymnastic venue? The sterile Blue pool graphics, Hell, the type on the large kiosk doesn’t even look large enough. I think these olympic graphics have failed to live up to the olympic standard. Too bad – maybe they should study the canadians or some Dutch Design.

    Ric says:
  • @Ric – What a miserable cretin you are. I suppose you could do much better, hence the link to your portfolio featuring comprehensive branding programs for the worlds largest events.

    Do1 says:
  • What a great effort in designing.. very innovative…

    Jayaprakash.A.G.K. says:
  • everything is fantastic, except the logo.

    morthal says:
  • The logo is quite ok, but all other visual elements mainly are not visually united. There is no any strong visual system. Maybe the cause of all these identity issues is in that all the parts of it are made by many different designers who did not really get the point of logotype and how all that should look like. Maybe this poject could be done better by one agency not separated into pieces. I like the font very much, but not the way they use it. For sample, It becomes unreadable in vertical position.

    Maker says:
  • By the way, this is not so innovative. The identity of Melbourne city (2009) looks very good 🙂

    Maker says:
  • This is just one of those projects that people feel they should hate regardless of if they really do or not. It’s cool to hate this but in reality they have designed something quite original for the context – Mexico 1968, Munich 1972 and Vancouver 2010 are the only Olympics with better graphics in my opinion.

    The identity of Melbourne city actually draws from London 2012 if anything since the first images of this were released in 2008 and even then there was something done for Vancouver 2010 that was first…

    John West says:
  • a big global design class.

    cintia ema says:
  • I\’m in LOVE with the visual concept of London Olympics!! ♥ The total design including the color variations is totally amazing and \”something-like-never-before\”!! Except just one mistake that they have made: using warm, PINK-ish colors around the court. I know the pink is the main color of the Olympics but those pink, coral colors could make atheletes emotionally unstable rather than in blue colors, so it could interfere concentrating on the game/performance. In the bad case, it will affect their score. Hope they didn\’t mean to ignore the function of colors.
    Anyways it\’s awesome and am happier to see my TV screen thx to the colors and design 🙂 Ah, need to say the mascots are not my fav tho.

    adultchild says:
  • Amazing job in my opinion. It has a strong visual unity though not complicated and very functional.

    Pato Villanueva says:
  • I really like all the design!!! It\’s amazing!
    mmmm except for the two mascots they are so NOT cute… 😛

    vanessa says:
  • Thank you for providing this rich material about design in Olympics Games 2012!

    Please check our blog about environmental graphic design! [url=] Sinalizar [/url]

    Sinalizar Blog says:
  • When everything is explained it makes so much more sense. People who are bashing the games branding this year should read this article. The thought behind everything is so meticulous. Great job London.

    Face First Creative [ says:
  • Dont you think the real design should not be specially explained, it should make sense from the first sight. Ok, may be from second sight, but without any \”smart guides\” 🙂 I mean -do you create design for yourself or other designers to get applause? How about immediate design users who may not get this \”something-like-never-before\” concept? Honestly, how do you think why this masterpiece became so disputable? I think the only reason is that one is showcased so widely around. That`s all! But you may disagree 🙂

    Maker says:
  • You like to spout off about inspiration, all the while denying the actual inspiration that was plagiarised to create the Brand Logo and all its tawdry derivations seen here.

    I believe the term is; Money For Old Rope, ” futuredesigns”.

    Art Axis says:
  • @Art Axis. That\’s funny. I thought the term was \”no such thing as bad publicity.\” You\’re going to have to explain how using similar forms for similar reasons is plagiarism. Unless …

    \”Braque sues Picasso for claiming to invent cubism.\”

    \”Mozart lovers outraged by modern composers\’ use of 4/4\”

    \”Cavemen call foul over modern architects\’ exploitation of shelter.\”

    Anyway, if Wolff Olin had indicated their point of influence, then where would that leave Michael StMark? He\’s having a whale of a time.

    Mrs Ann Archy says:
  • Anyway, smart work London. Although at a distance, the logo looks like a bit like Chinese typography. Not that I mind that.

    Mr K Auss says:
  • Looks AMAZING!!!!!!! Well done London… Proud to be British!

    RichB says:
  • its dream for me one day go to see the olympic plays

    z-a-moradi says:
  • Very consistent.

    Mash Montawal says:
  • dont like ‘wenlock’ and ‘mandeville’ mascots… just meh.

    FM says:
  • i don\’t really like the mascot though…

    Nemesis says:
  • I like the brazil logo much better.
    This one is so haphazard.

    Jack says:
  • I like Saron Bell half happy half sad

  • Good Job to UK

    patric says:
  • I just keep thinking of all those graphic designers hunched over their Macs churning out variants of the same thing day after day after day… god, that must have been exhausting… but they must have felt great when they saw it all come together.

    Joidv says:
  • Straigth,geometric,abstract,caos…..i luv this design!!!!GREETINS FROM BRAZIL!

    Giovani says:

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