Beyond 2012 - an integrated Design Story

London 2012 logo and branding
A graphic design story

“We were engaged to create a powerhouse of a brand that would establish itself at the heart of contemporary life.”

Patrick Cox
Creative Director

Tell us about the early design brief

The Olympics is about bringing people together. It’s a platform for mass participation and a shared celebration of human endeavour. Over time, this has been overlooked and it’s become a spectacle admired from afar. Commercial imperative has overshadowed the original spirit and it has been used as a vehicle to put cities and entire nations on the tourist map. London’s Organising Committee had a clear vision to rectify this. Their bid for London 2012 was like no other. They set out to give the Games back to the people; to inspire, provoke and change the lives of the next generation.

This was to be an Olympics for everyone, everywhere – an Olympics that went far beyond venues, far beyond sport. We were engaged to create a powerhouse of a brand that would establish itself at the heart of contemporary life. The overall ambition was to make this ‘everyone’s Olympics’, and to make everyone Olympic. To reflect the fact that it wasn’t ‘owned’ by the host city, the event was christened, quite simply, ‘2012’.

What inspired your design concept?

2012 would ask people to challenge themselves, discover new abilities and take risks, and with this ambition in mind, the icon was based on an explosion of energy. Its jagged, urban form connected with a generation and its provocative spirit set the tone for things to come. The visual identity system was deliberately flexible so that partners could grasp, embrace and further it on their own terms.

Sponsors, the Paralympics and the Cultural Olympiad created their own permutations of the logo by populating the emblem in different ways. Similarly the pattern (which also emerged from the burst of energy) strode out across a myriad of platforms, from the seating in stadiums, to medals and a museum in Margate. Through prescribed anarchy, this brand became the most cohesive in Olympic history. The result was a striking, disruptive entity that lived through its many parts. The brand took the Games off the pedestal, out of the stadium and into the streets. It made the summer of 2012 an unforgettable moment in time, drenched in adrenaline, courage and jaw-dropping ability. It was a summer like never before, with people out on the streets in their unabashed, eccentric and colourful best.

What challenges did you face along the way?

One of the key challenges was how to create an emblem that would launch to the public in 2007 but still feel fresh and current in 2012, and for that reason the emblem we created was dissonant. Its sharp corners and rough edges are entirely appropriate to a mission that was about breaking out and breaking through like never before.


Company name
Wolff Olins

Logo and branding for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


Project team

Brian Boylan

Patrick Cox
Creative Director

Suzanne Livingston

Charlotte Hopkinson

Luke Gifford

Miles Perkins
Implementation Director

Charles Taylor

Carl Baldwin

Chris Conway

Sarah Stevens
Account Management

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