Brand identity for Russia’s World Cup references art, space and a magic ball

The brand identity of the 2018 FIFA World Cup was revealed this week with the launch of the event’s official emblem.


The key visual asset of the first FIFA World Cup to be held on Russian soil was unveiled with the assistance of cosmonauts on the International Space Station, followed by a light projection show on the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

The official statement from FIFA said inspiration for the design was drawn from Russia’s “rich artistic tradition and its history of bold achievement and innovation.” Russia’s space program was also a theme.

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“The shape of the Official Emblem of Russia 2018 takes on the universally recognisable outline of the World Cup Trophy, while the bold use of red, gold, black and blue in the emblem’s colour palette was inspired by centuries-old techniques seen in world-renowned Russian art dating back to the earliest icon paintings,” the statement said.

“The magic ball at the top of the emblem puts the world’s love of football into the spotlight. And the components of the emblem taken together blend unique attributes of the World Cup and of Russia as host nation. It unites magic and dreams, as the competition will do for millions of fans in 2018.”

Russia World Cup 2018 logo official emblem brand identity 600w


According to Russian sports minister Vitaliy Mutko, the logo was inspired by “Russia’s rich artistic tradition and its history of bold achievement and innovation.”

In a statement release by FIFA, Mutko, said: “Hosting the World Cup is the dream of millions of Russians. We’ve tried to encapsulate that dream in the Official Emblem. The World Cup will change our country and will present a new, modern Russia to the whole world. I’m sure that staging an event of this magnitude will be something that will linger in the hearts of Russians, and in the hearts of fans right around the world, for a long time to come.”

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said it reflects the “heart and soul” of the country. “To creatively capture the essence of this remarkable historic moment inspiration was drawn from both Russia’s rich artistic tradition and its history of bold achievement and innovation. I hope that fans around the world will appreciate and love the Russia 2018 emblem.”

“The launch of this visual icon is a key milestone on the road to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and one that we are extremely proud to share with the world. The emblem blends unique attributes of the FIFA World Cup and of Russia as host nation. It unites magic and dreams, as the FIFA World Cup will do for millions of fans in 2018,” said Blatter.

The logo was first unveiled by Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Sovokutyaev and Maxim Suraev from the International Space Station:


And then projected onto the Bolshoi:


Reactions to the design of the brand identity have been mixed. USA Today sports blogger Nick Schwartz wrote that “Russia’s 2018 World Cup logo is surprisingly great.”

The Fox Is Black, a design blog, disagreed, however (but did like the typography): “Incorrect USA Today, this is awkward and inelegant. It looks like an alien blob, or a sneak peek of Russia’s plans to rule outer space. The type is interesting though.”

Locally, said it looks like an alien.

There was, of course, also numerous social media commentary taking the opportunity to criticise Russia over political issues, and some European politicians have called for a boycott. Interestingly, the cosmonaut who first unveiled the logo made a short speech about the lack of borders visible from space and how that relates to football (see video above).

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In sponsor news, McDonald’s, for which the 2018 World Cup will be its sixth since becoming a sponsor in 1994, has hinted at its plans to leverage its sponsorship of the event. John Lewicki, senior director of global alliances, said: “For 20 years our partnership with FIFA has been all about bringing fun, innovative programs to our customers around the world and celebrating our shared love of football.

“We saw incredible excitement among fans and throughout the McDonald’s system for our 2014 World Cup programs, including Player Escort, Ultimate Fan and the redesign of our iconic fry boxes featuring an interactive augmented reality game. We’re looking forward to… continuing our connection with football fans all over the world,” Lewicki said in a statement.

FIFA’s brand ‘Partners’ include Adidas, Coca-Cola, Gazprom (for 2018 only), Hyundai/Kia and Visa and World Cup ‘Sponsors’ include Anheuser Busch InBev and McDonald’s.


Peter Roper
BY Peter Roper ON 30 October 2014
Editor of Marketing and Marketing Mag from 2013 to 2017. Tweets as @pete_arrr.