The Olympics pictograms are one of many designers dream projects: Otl Aicher’s set for Munich in 1972 (below) and the Mexico 68 collection both figure in most designers’ mental lists of most revered works.
“The agency had to come up with something that fitted in with our brand identity but at the same time create something new and exciting.”
“Traditionally, pictograms are used for way finding and signage at Games time, so people generally see them as just an Organising Committee’s way of doing their own toilet sign! [Really?] We wanted to create an asset that we, our licensees and our partners would use in more creative ways than just at Games time – and they’ll be vital to the identity of our ‘Look’ programme (how we ‘dress’ the city).”
“The pictograms of the past have nearly always taken their cue from the Munich Games pictograms designed by Otl Aicher. Therefore, they are generally based both on old technology (things have moved on!), and are often stationary and frozen.”
“One of the joys of London 2012 is the coming together and connection of the world’s people, and so a more contemporary approach to pictograms offers an opportunity beyond pure informational signage. 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, such as on posters or banners.” Supposedly, these were “inspired by the London Underground map”
This is how the pictograms are being used for signage.
“Do I believe they could rival the Munich Games’ versions?” asks Yasmine, London 2012 brand team. “Absolutely, because I strongly believe these will touch and inspire everyone – whether in London, the UK or more widely around the world.”
Here are the pictograms in use around the city: