London's Olympic organizers defend the design (which consists, roughly, of four abstract shapes that spell out 2012):
"It's vital that we reach out to those young people in a language that they understand and in technology that's familiar to them. This brand is absolutely the world they live in."
"People who understand the Games, who get the Games, have a historic feel for the Games, have an emotional attachment to the Games are probably not going to be moved, one way or another by a brand."
"The new emblem is dynamic, modern and flexible, reflecting a brand-savvy world where people, especially young people, no longer relate to static logos but respond to a dynamic brand that works with new technology and across traditional and new media networks."
"The brand launched today by London 2012 is, I believe, an early indication of the dynamism, modernity and inclusiveness with which London 2012 will leave its Olympic mark."
Should I be surprised that the London team and IOC are resorting to marketing claptrap in order to justify such a hideous design? And should I perhaps acknowledge that I have a certain problematic level of comfort with Olympic tradition, steeped as it is in borders and self-aggrandizement? And admit a certain expectation that London should play to their (admittedly, white masculine-centric) history rather than use something designed to maximize their sponsors' appeal to international markets?:
London organizers want the logo to be interactive, and have encouraged people to download the design template, personalize it and upload it onto the official website. [London 2012 chief organizer Paul] Deighton said the logo would evolve into a number of forms over the years. Sponsors would be able to adapt the logo to suit them. Banking sponsor Lloyds began using the logo on Monday, with its own corporate colours of light blue and green, with the official partner description written diagonally across the bottom number 2.
No, I'm not so naive that I think this is outrageous and exceptional; it is, of course, all too normal. History and our relation to it is always ambivalent and panicked, and so it's often revised or ignored, this being a case of the latter. But it can also be productive and ecstatic. Certainly, an event like the Olympics, which claims to have cross-cultural significance in a way that no other sports event does, should actually try to engage with the host culture's history, troubling as it may be in many ways. Instead, we're saddled with something that promotes London as if it were the newest fad in branding.
But like I said, this logo is not somehow exceptional; and neither, contrary to what they would have us believe, are the Olympics.