As I begin this article on the Russia World Cup 2018 brand identity, it’s probably worth mentioning that England have just recorded their biggest ever world cup finals win(6-1). They’ve already qualified for the knockout stages with a game to spare. And our captain and frontman is on course to win the golden boot. Things are looking pretty good, so it’s fair to assume that at this exact moment my opinions might be slightly skewed; unusually for an English football fan there is unmistakable optimism to my tone.
There are a few key ingredients that go into developing an identity that will come under this level of scrutiny, certain hygiene factors that inform the creative brief. The identity will need to excite, inspire and capture of the essence of the host country both culturally and socially. When this identity was created(2014) Russia’s global profile was drastically different to now – something you should keep in the back of your mind, but not something I am going to delve into in great detail in this article – it’s another one entirely.
Let’s start with the logo. Conceptually Brandia Central really throw everything at it. When you have creative cues like Sputnik space station, Faberge eggs and something they refer to as ‘magic windows’ you know you’re in for visual treat. Russian innovation, pioneering spirit and artistic prowess are central themes in the logo mark and it allows the designers to express themselves, swoops, stars, celebration…bloody magic windows ‘that invite you to look on and participate” according to Brandia Central. It’s the small details that give it a voice and it does, for me, evoke of sense of place as well feeling dynamic and progressive. It genuinely looks like it’s about to take of into orbit. All these excitingly glitzy details could make scalability an issue but in the majority of applications it’s the star of the show anyway.
Typographically I think that the logo is interesting – I am drawn to the way in which the R and A’s take forward the dynamism of the logo mark to connect the two elements visually. Although this isn’t a typeface that I would necessarily associate with Russia or Russian design, it was perhaps designed at a time in which global perception of Russia was of a country more modern and forward thinking. In the studio there have been a few conversation on the success of the typography across the identity, and it hasn’t all been positive. I think there are issues with scalability again and am not convinced that the differing weights of line within each letter form necessarily translates well to screen. But do I like it? Absolutely.
Design week recently published an article analysing the animation created by Noah Media Group. In the opening sequence you really see all the concepts come to life as you’re transported on a journey through the host cities, celebrating technological, industrial and architectural triumphs – and of course a giant faberge egg. The stylistic quality of the 240 animation is slightly ‘harder edged’, more grown up than the identity – there are less of the flamboyant touches which creates a nice relationship between to two. The backing track by Hans Zimmer combined with the dynamic almost birds eye style of the animation builds the excitement before the main event.
Interestingly, given the current socio/political climate I think there can be parallels drawn between The London 2012 Olympics and this tournament. Those of us who have been reading the British press in the run up to the World Cup have been fearing the worst; we’ve been advised against travelling and warned about the threat of hooliganism. This is not dissimilar to mood around London pre the Olympics – warnings about travel chaos and spikes in crime drove a lot of the locals out. A distinctive identity that evoked an indifferent response is also common ground. As we know now London ended up becoming one of most successful sporting events ever organised and the identity became a representation of a excitement, inspiration and Britishness. For me Russia 2018 has all the ingredients needed to replicate this success: a unique and interesting identity that represents a country at its best and pushes the boundary of what was expected, and that is (so far) supported by an exciting sporting spectacle.