WEDNESDAY 10 MAR 2010 10:26 AM


In classic sporting mythology any new brand unveiled for a major athletics event is destined to attract controversy, criticism and  general opprobrium. The new brand unveiled this week for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games looks set to follow form.

Interestingly, and perhaps to pre-empt any media criticism that may have been made, the Games' website provides a complete breakdown of the rationale behind the logo. "There's a real willingness to explain and educate from the brand website, and this is good", commented Adrian Day, the managing partner of corporate design firm Further. The rationale, however, was more of a distraction and a disappointment for Fred Burt, managing director of brand agency Siegel+Gale. "It’s overly complex, smacks of consultant bullshit and diverts attention from the real branding issues.  If the brand is more than the logo, why so much fuss about it?", he asked.

Brigid McMullen from branding agency The Workroom agreed. "How tortuous to have such an involved idea that doesn't communicate to us - the audience! Any brand mark that needs an explanation to explain itself clearly doesn't work - successful brands don't require it."

Considering the media furore when the London 2012 Olympic logo was unleashed, it is not surprising that parallels have been made with Olympic brands. "It feels more typically like a sporting event logo than the London 2012 identity, and undoubtedly a safer bet" said Michael Di Paola of Manchester-based brand design agency Studio North.

Not everyone felt that they had capitalised on the sporting opportunities However. “It doesn't communicate anything about the passion of sport, the spirit of competition, the joy of winning, even just the thought of sport being expressive and full of energy.... it's 'clinically dead'!” said McMullen.

Further’s Day questioned the designers use of rings as the main device – “ Surely the Olympics can claim to ‘own’ rings”.

The rings, however, do help aid the animation, and possibly the implementation. According to Gideon Wilkinson of brand implementation firm Endpoint, “On a practical level the brand works well. It’s good in a single colour, there are no gradients or bleeds so applying this to the myriad of applications that an event of this size demands should be relatively straightforward and cost effective. There is plenty of room for interpretation to use the colour palette and different cuts of the main marque which should give the event designers the flexibility to bring the whole identity to life and create some memorable event branding."

The games organisers have made much of the logo's role in helping secure the £80 million sponsorship revenue needed to stage the games. If targets are reached, then ultimately on one level it can be said to have been successful.

However, financial targets are not the sole metric. As the experience with the recent Vancouver winter Olympics has shown, major sporting events can quickly reverse negative sentiment as they engage with audiences around the world. However, according to Burt, "The commonwealth games is rapidly losing relevance.  It needs to avoid being seen as a pale imitation of the Olympics.  From what I’ve seen so far, the brand isn't going to help Glasgow achieve this.  But let’s hope the experience exceeds my expectations.  That, after all, is what matters."

See also

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