Hartwell Studio Works

Sports Branding Blog

Deep thoughts from the studio on all things sports, creative, and some other stuff in-between.

Three Cheers for the London 2012 Logo


The Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea provide a timely backdrop for a look at what I consider to be one of the most interesting case studies in sports branding: the logo for the London 2012 Games.

Granted, we’re a few years on from London, but I think it’s worth taking a look at why the London 2012 logo is an effective exercise in sports brand identity:

Clear Sense of Purpose: From the outset, the design team wanted to encourage “unprecedented levels of participation” beyond the sporting events with an Olympics that would be “everywhere and for everyone.”  Positioned as “off the podium, onto the street,” the brand was conceived with a broad-based social and cultural appeal.

Definitive point of view: The team felt London didn’t need an introduction to the world, so no need for iconic landmarks. Instead, they focused on the idea of London as a modern, creative, energetic city. They wanted a mark for London of today, pointing towards the future.

Differentiation: The concept of dissonance, as a means of describing modern London, was adopted for visualizing the Games’ brand strategy. The design team wanted a mark that looked like something you could “bump into on the street,” embracing the idea of creating something different for a different kind of Games.

All that being said, the London 2012 logo was indeed a jarring departure from the expected in Olympic identities. But, that was the point. Love it or hate it, London 2012 is notable for being an example of bold risk-taking in service of an intentionally bold strategy. 

For more on the strategy behind the London 2012 logo, check out this excellent article from Fast Company.

John Hartwell