The London 2012 font is a “bespoke” (custom) font. Called “2012 Headline,” it was designed specifically for the Olympic Games by the branding firm Wolff Olins. See why the London 2012 font is so ugly.
Why is the London 2012 font so ugly?
Many fonts are unattractive, but they at least work in context (think the 11-year-old who makes a sign for her lemonade stand using Comic Sans). But Headline 2012 is ugly and inappropriate.
On the plus side, people find the London 2012 font memorable. But that may not be a compliment. After all, the Hindenburg disaster was “memorable.”
The Olympic Games conjure up words like “tradition,” “pageantry,” and “patriotism.” The London 2012 font, by contrast, looks—well—goofy.
- It is an oblique (italic) face, meaning the letters slope to the right. Italics should be used sparingly, usually to show emphasis or set off non-dialogue words or sentences. The use of an italic face without the dominant backdrop of a roman (non-italic) face is strange.
- In the logo, the L in “London” is lowercase, not uppercase. London is a capital city. Is a capital letter too much to ask?
- The 2s look like Zs. In fact, the Iranians thought that the 2 in the logo was indeed a Z (and that the …012 was …ion). Yup, Iran demanded the logo be changed because it clearly spelled Zion. (And some say that the logo looks like Lisa Simpson engaging in oral sex.)
- The London 2012 font is jagged. Look at the steep climb that the transverse stroke of the n makes, only to drop off a cliff when it descends. When I think of Olympic-caliber athletes, I think “fast” or “strong”—not “jagged.”
Alternatives for the London 2012 font
Well, just about anything would have been preferable to Headline 2012. The London 2012 font should have been classy, yet not pompous. Cool, yet not avant-garde. The London committee should have gone with Kino Design, the firm that designed the logo for London’s Olympic bid. That logo was at least context-appropriate.
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Matthew Kushinka is the founder and principal of RedLine Language Services LLC. Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the company helps commercial clients create, revise, and translate their written content. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with Matthew on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.