How a 'Golden Thread' connected every part of the 2012 London Olympic experience

In 2009, FutureBrand, as part of McCann Worldgroup, became the official marketing services provider for London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games. The Financial Times called this "the biggest assignment in the history of UK marketing".

Having inherited the basic London 2012 identity elements, logo, colours and font, FutureBrand's role was to help create a compelling brand strategy and kit of parts, 'The Look' of London 2012. This included the gamestime look for both Olympic and Paralympic Games and the overall London 2012 and City look. There was also the task of managing and engaging 54 stakeholders and multiple government agencies, an extremely complex process in itself.

Our solution was to simplify the complex, creating one theme and one 'Look' for London 2012.

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Working with LOCOG and McCann Worldgroup, we co-created a powerful brand strategy and promise, which led to a singular creative idea that underpinned and informed all work from 2010 through to the delivery of the Games. Known internally as the Golden Thread, the promise was “inspiring the UK to push beyond its personal best”.

We then developed an identity system that had to work across every touchpoint and every campaign; from signage, interior dressing, street dressing, ticket design, medal ribbons, and the cars that would ferry athletes around, to advertising and the park itself; essentially, every physical and digital touchpoint that spectators, sponsors, officials, the media and athletes would come into contact with during London 2012, both in London and across the UK. And for the first time in Olympic history, ‘One Look’ was created to work for the Olympics and Paralympics, the City, and the rest of the UK.

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The brand strategy connected the torch relay to the volunteering programme, the look of the games to the way we sell tickets, sponsors to their customers, the Olympics to the Paralympics and Londoners and British people to their Games. This ultimately helped reframe how an Olympic and Paralympic Games are perceived.

A generation was inspired – nearly half of 16-24-year-olds said the Games had inspired them to participate in more sport or exercise, and 75% say the Games will make a positive difference to the UK. The Games were a huge success commercially, with a record 20 million ticket applications from 1.8 million people. The ticket sales for the London Olympics and Paralympics exceeded forecasts and were a record for any Summer Games. Further records were broken with 2.1 million Paralympic tickets sold before the start of the Paralympics – the most ever for a Paralympic Games – and the most successful volunteering programme for an Olympic Games with 240,000 people applying to become a ‘Gamesmaker’. And our hard work paid off - we won Branding Schemes: Large Business 2013 category at the D&AD Professional Awards.

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