Logo Design Love

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Sochi 2014 Olympic logo

Sochi 2014 Olympic logo

The logo for the 2014 Winter Olympics, to be held in Sochi, Russia, was unveiled yesterday, becoming the first Olympic emblem to feature a web address — Sochi2014.ru — as organisers target the digital generation.

Here’s Sochi’s 2014 Olympic bid logo (thanks, Martin), ditched in favour of necessarily replaced by the official Olympic logo (hat-tip, Armando).

Sochi 2014 Olympic bid logo

The Sochi 2014 brand was developed by Interbrand and an “Expert Brand Council” established by the Sochi organising committee.

The logo for the winter games features the web address “sochi2014.ru”, with “Sochi” placed on top of “2014″, typographically mirroring each other, which is meant to reflect that Sochi is the meeting point between the sea and the mountains. The Olympic rings sit in their original colours beside the web address.

Sochi 2014 Olympic logo

Sochi 2014 Olympic logo

Sochi 2014 Olympic logo
Images via the idsgn post on Sochi 2014

Commenting on the Sochi logo, Fred Burt, managing director of Siegel+Gale London, said:

“I’m no fan of the London 2012 identity so it’s good to see Sochi 2014 restore some sanity. It feels fresh and up-to-date, promising a new Russia that perhaps the wider world doesn’t know (think how Beijing benefitted in this regard).

“I’ll be interested to see how the URL plays out — has the system been designed to drop the ‘.ru’?

“The typographical mirroring of the ‘h/y’ ‘s/z’ and ’0/o’ feels clumsy, however, and undermines the symmetry of the logo. But as ever, it’s the experience not the logo that will make this brand.”

I agree that it’s an improvement on the London 2012 logo, and I like the attempt at symmetry, but there are too many elements competing for attention — the “.ru”, the semi-mirrored type, the rings. A strong logo should leave the viewer with one thing to focus on. Not two, three, four.

If the rings must be used, make them the focus. I’ve yet to see a stronger example than Daniel Eatock’s 2012 alternative — a composite of the Olympic rings and the RAF roundel.

Daniel Eatock 2012 Olympic logo alternative

What if we remove the rings from the Sochi logo? If their inclusion is a prerequisite, try something different. Make that the focus.

Sochi 2014 Olympic logo

Okay, so you mightn’t immediately know what event it identifies, but a logo doesn’t need to say what an organisation does, and I’m sure the context in which the design is set will tell a stronger story.

What if the “.ru” is removed, too?

Sochi 2014 Olympic logo

Is the web address really necessary? Won’t most people just search for “Sochi 2014″ instead of typing the URL?

Now it’s easier to focus on the typography alone, without extra distraction. It’s meant to reflect that “Sochi is the meeting point between the sea and the mountains,” so why not make that the sole focus rather than add a little here, a little there?

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities

36 appreciated comments

  1. Can’t help but feel disappointed at this. The URL (or should that be Urals?) is needless, I hate the outlined type and the symmetry doesn’t work. I actually preferred the snowflake in their bid logo http://idsgn.org/posts/sochi-unveils-official-2014-olympic-games-logo

    It’s not the disaster for the design world that 2012 is, but at least that’s memorable. Whether being memorable for being terrible is a good thing or not (something discussed on this blog recently) I feel that the 2014 logo is instantly forgettable. Disappointing like I said.

    And please, none of the “let’s see it in it’s branded environment” guff. It, like every other logo, should be able to stand on it’s own without a plethora of supporting material.

  2. i think this weird logo is really awful

    in my opinion non-oficial logo is much better http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Sochi-2014-Winter-Olympics-Official-Logo-Bid/355269

  3. this logo is unbalanced and shows no imagination.

    the laurel/feather logo on the behance network would have been a
    far more worthy choice, its great!

  4. There’s something about it, Martin, that says “ice hockey” to me. I’m not quite sure what. The discussion you mention about being remembered for bad design, or not being remembered at all, is one that could continue for some time. Did you see the Behance link from Anton?

    Thanks, Anton.

  5. I did see the link from Anton and the feathers/flame marque is a lot better than the chosen route, absolutely.

    But while the logo is very good (http://tranformerstudio.ru are excellent) it’s not ‘winter’ olympics enough for me. Neither is the chosen solution despite it’s ice hockey connotations (totally agree on that!), that’s why I preferred the candidate city logo. The star/snowflake marque is contemporary, memorable and infinitely adaptable.

    I know that rules/protocol means the candidate city logo must not carry over on to the ‘real’ logo (as we’re about to find here in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games 2014) so perhaps the star/snowflake couldn’t be topped? They’d shot their bolt too early?

    Interestingly, there’s an article here on the 2016 candidate city logos, including the rebranding of the Chicago entry for now meeting some rather bizarre Olympic logo guidelines! http://idsgn.org/posts/race-for-the-2016-olympics/ http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/chicagos_rising_star.php

  6. I’m getting so sick of these big agency’s putting out tripe. This one on the other hand is pure gold…had to sneek in a pun http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Sochi-2014-Winter-Olympics-Official-Logo-Bid/355269

  7. The ‘old’ logo wasn’t ditched in favor of the new one. The way the IOC works, when it comes to logos, is this: the bidding cities need a logo for the bidding part, once a city is chosen that they’ll need a new one.

  8. I do prefer the Transformer Studio option but I don’t love any of the options. I would like something simpler.

  9. The typeface used reminds me of Russian constructivism… I think the .url makes it weird looking.

  10. I really want to say that this logo just sucks, but that would be crass, so I won’t. Let’s just say it looks to me like a mad jumble of letters and olympic rings that communicates nothing very clearly.

  11. The new design doens’t really blow my skirt over my head.

    Thanks for mentioning that design non official logo on Behance Anton, that was definitely my favorite. There’s so much careful thought put into that logo. You can see all of it’s influences and I think that it really speaks to the heart of Russia.

    This new logo is cold rigid and lifeless. A little too much on the digital side if you ask me.

    Why do I feel like design is headed off a steep precipice these days…?

    ~J

  12. Ugh. The ‘symmetry’ feels contrived/strained–like it’s trying TOO hard.

    Much prefer the Behance logo–it feels ‘joyous’.

    And isn’t joy part of the games?

  13. Callie Leads

    I’m not a fan of the chosen design — very clunky and outdated. I think the Olympic rings are crucial to an Olympic logo, whether it be for when a city is bidding or after they’ve been selected. My biggest criticism of the logo, however, is the unbalanced URL. I don’t mind that they included a website in the logo, but my eyes instinctively read across and then down, especially when it comes to a URL. Whenever I look at the logo, I read the URL as “sochi.ru” and the 2014 looks separate. If you go to sochi.ru, it redirects to the Olympic site, so they must anticipate this will be a common problem.

  14. It is Fred’s summation that I agree with more:

    “…it’s the experience not the logo that will make this brand.”

    Until the success (or failure) of London 2012 can be measured, we’ll have to accept that continued and incredibly subjective comparisons between ‘all others’ and the London 2012 identity will be drawn — the result of a poorly executed launch campaign by London 2012, I may add. However, I personally remain hopeful that the dynamic nature of the 2012 logo, will prove critics wrong, and the Games will be able to deliver.

    Until then, back Sochi 2014. Personally, I think this identity has little or no ambition — the palette is obvious and cold, visual references are weak and it is incredibly dated. Had he not been on the slopes of St. Moritz in 1981, the Sochi 2014 logo identity would be quite-at-home on the front of Roger Moore’s skiing jacket in For Your Eyes Only.

  15. Anton, that’s a much nicer Olympic logo, thanks for the link. There’s nothing offensive about the Sochi one they’re going with, but it is very boring. On the other hand, at least it’s not London 2012.

    Dan, I disagree with your sentence ‘and the Games will be able to deliver’. The games will deliver no matter what the logo is. The Olympic logo is, in my opinion, irrelevant to the experience of the atmosphere of the games. All it does is add an attractive veneer (in an ideal world) to an age-old institution. No-one is going to boycott the Olympics because the logo is ugly.

  16. Guy

    Here there are also other versions of this logo with a pattern http://antonnot.livejournal.com/

  17. Feels very sterile. It’s a good thing they also bought the domain sochi.ru because at first glance that’s what it looks like.

    Ian – I agree with your comment “No-one is going to boycott the Olympics because the logo is ugly.” However, you may see a dip in merchandise sales. ;-)

  18. Yaya

    Have you notice the 2 crosses in negative beetween the h/i and 1/4?
    Maybe strong political opinions behind the logo?

  19. Semantics, Ian: (1) I hope the dynamism of the Brand Identity proves its critics wrong AND (2) the games are able to deliver on the promises LOCOG have made. [DD]

  20. I agree, I think the logo is a little busy. However I think the addition of the .ru gives Russia the added publicity, but I also think the .ru should be below the olympic rings. Eyes will naturally follow “Sochi.ru2014″, which is obviously backwards. Otherwise, a breath of fresh air from London’s logo.

  21. Nate

    I’ll preface this comment by noting I have no beef with Russia.

    Because of the vernacular of “.ru” in America, the first thing that comes to my head when I see the logo is junk email or a sleazy web site where you download MP3s for pennies.

    Personally, I’d just ditch th “.ru” suffix altogether. What does it add to the identity? Who in world on with access to a computer can’t find an olympic website via Google?

    I don’t know.It’s all downhill, visually, after Montreal 1976.

  22. Not really a fan of the “logo.” I agree with the critique that it is pretty straightforward and unimaginative, but I do really like the execution of the logo on the site and ID materials.

    The blue triangles are a really nice touch and that “as the ID” is utilized really well across the sites.

    Looks like somebody needs to call Wolff Olins. ;)

  23. Soctane

    Not very Olympic, is it. It doesn’t even come in Russian Cyrillic type.

  24. The typography is similar to what one would find on an invitation to a rave. That said, the games will be well attended regardless of the identity we put on it.

    Let’s see what the clothing designers can do with it.

  25. My first read of the logo didn’t include 2014. I saw what I assumed were Cyrillic letters below Sochi.

    When I discovered 2014 it wasn’t an aha moment, more of an ugh moment.

  26. David Airey said:

    “There’s something about it, Martin, that says “ice hockey” to me…”

    Could it be the opposing hockey sticks seen in the white space knock-out in between the vertical hi/14 reflection?

  27. mara edythe

    Lettering looks Soviet to me and creates an unpleasant visceral reaction. Sad turnoff for an event I love to watch.

  28. Chris

    Without knowledge of cyrillic letters, you are missing an important point. The 4 in 2014 has been written in the cyrillic letter for “ch”, and so, if you switch the letters around slightly, “2014″ looks like it spells “sochi”. Do you see that now? Subtle, but pretty cool.

  29. Bethany

    This is a interesting take. I feel it to have a chiseled in ice feel with a reflection that is clean, clear, crisp, and cool. I would agree that one aspect rather than multiple would drive the logo further. I do not feel the web address is as central as is the name and recognition of the “experience.”

  30. Marc

    That is an official logo? I could have drawn that myself! If you’re going to be hosting international games with the spotlight on you I would at least spend a little time and imagination creating a colourful vibrant logo. Some would argue the logo isn’t the focus of the games, but it is showcased at every venue and on all television stations. If it took Russia 2 years to create a logo this dull I don’t really have confidence in Russia’s abilities to host an exciting olympics with that sharp team of creative directors… First London’s odd, boring and uncreative logo, then Sochi’s, thank god Rio broke the chain of dull logo’s with their neat colourful logo with meaning behind it, not a URL to a website that a small handful of people will actually check out. I think that it’s a bit of a stretch to say that the “Sochi on top of the 2014 represents the border of land and sea”. I don’t see that at all. They could have at least made the “Sochi” in green to demonstrate that further. Overall it’s very dissapointing to me. They could have done much better. The logo on the hot air balloon looked great!

  31. lola

    Isn’t there a Russian word under Sochi 2014?

  32. In a simple word: Uninspired!

    Now the games in Sochi are showing a bit of the context overall of the branding done by Interbrand. The logo is really quite lazy and unrefined to a fault indeed. Adding the .ru reminds me of logos that include “Inc” or “Ltd” and so on. Just visual noise detracting from a notable failure in a line of such rich heritage from generations of Olympic Games branding.

    London and Beijing were, for lack of a more descriptive term, vulgar.

    I think the identity contract should be competed for once the city has been awarded. Let the IOC and winning city members vote on submitted concepts.

  33. Sharon

    When I first saw this logo in the background on TV. I kept wondering…”What is Sochi Zoly?” It took way too long to realize it was Sochi 2014. Not the best choice of typeface here. Besides the readability issue, the font looks dated. Sort of futuristic but from 1965.

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