On Saturday January 10th, about three months delayed, The Singapore Youth Olympics 2010 logo was unveiled, and the results of the public logo competition were announced.
I have to say up front that I didn’t have high hopes for it. Opening up a competition for the logo of an icon for what probably will be Singapore’s biggest event of 2010 did not seem like a good idea. The idea of separating the brand design identity tender and the logo competition is even worse, but that’s a story in itself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for public participation, but there are things better suited for open competitions than this. Like perhaps a “name the mascot” competition.
And, well, the result was to be expected. This is from the Logo Fact Sheet PDF:
Spirit of Youth the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games Logo â€“ celebrates Singapore 2010 in an adventurous, open and fun way. It evokes the Singaporean sense of confidence and progress.
The three distinct elements of the logo are:
The Flame of Passion
The intense red flame represents the passion to learn and the power of positive thinking. Red is also the national colour of Singapore.
The Star of Champions
The rich purple star symbolises excellence and the pride of representing one’s nation.
The Crescent of Tomorrow
The crescent reflects dynamic youth, full of promise. It has the lush green and calm blue colours of a tropical island city.
The Singapore 2010 Wordmark
Its active appearance comprises individual and unique characters that signify harmony among the diverse participants.
Spirit of Youth inspires all of us to express the Olympic spirit and celebrate the first-ever Youth Olympic Games.
I’ve already hinted that I wasn’t exactly blown away, and let me share a little bit about why I’m disappointed.
Firstly; What’s the big idea? What the heck am I looking at? How does it capture the Singapore spirit? This neither represents Singapore, nor the Olympic movement. At least not to me.
Secondly; it looks like a kid’s drawing (which it most likely isn’t, but I’ll get to that). That is probably the biggest mistake they could make. This is not the Olympics for Kids. These young athletes (14-18 years old, not just kids anymore) are the best in the world at what they do, and they probably don’t want to rally behind a symbol that looks like something their kid brother drew with finger paint in daycare.
But hey, it could have been worse! At least they didn’t flip the R in Singapore, for example.
Thirdly; is the logo’s hand drawn appearance, which unfortunately looks like someone used the default brushes in Adobe Illustrator, visually really a step forward? It looks more like the Sydney 2000 logo from back in the 90s, when hand drawn logos were “in”. It was nice back then, but why look back 10 years, when we’re supposed to be looking into the future? They had the chance to really push the envelope when it comes to modern identity design, to be inspired by some of the amazing Olympic logos done in the past, and bring the tradition to the next level for the Youth Olympics, and they completely botched it. This is a step backward. It’s conventional, sexless and very embarrassing, as my colleague put it.
Lastly; The rationale for the colours and the shapes is plain and predictable. It’s the usual mumbo jumbo that designers who don’t really know why they doodled something and picked the colours by random use to sell it to a client. On what planet does a purple, hand drawn star lacking a fifth point symbolise “excellence and the pride of representing one’s nation”?
All in all, a definite let down. And, since the logo competition is complete but no winners were announced (that I could find anyway), I’m assuming that there wasn’t a winner, and they got an agency to do it for them, thus certainly ending up paying a little more than just the mobile phone they had as a first prize in the competition. Which is cool, I think, since that’s what they should have done from the start. But then why have the competition at all?
The logo actually seems to be, at least to some extent, the work of the quite famous brand agency The Brand Union (seeing as the PDF contained this image).
Too bad. It could have been great. But, as a friend pointed out, this probably is the result of many, many compromises. The almost three month delay also seems to point to that being the case. But regardless why it looks like it does, it’s still a shame.
Check out more submitted logos (some definitely better than the “winner”) at the Singapore 2010 logo gallery.