East Meets West in the Most Widely Seen Design of the Year

The 2018 World Cup logo and TV animation is familiar to the whole world. What is the story behind its design?

As global events go, things just don’t get bigger than a football World Cup. Viewing figures of 3.4 billion equate to around half the global population. And even in the most far-flung corners of the globe or in the few places that the sport has not penetrated, the simple truth is that everyone knows there is a World Cup on. From a cultural perspective, World Cup 2018 is even more important than usual. This is not a simple case of one of the world’s footballing giants taking its turn as host. Since independence in 1991, Russia had only ever qualified three times, and had never made it beyond the group stage. But as host, it had a chance to put itself on the map as a major player in global sport. For socio-political as much as sporting reasons, then, this event has been enormously important, and every aspect of its preparation and marketing needed to be spot on. At the heart of that lies the work of the graphic designers responsible for the now iconic logo, with which we are all familiar by now.

240 animations

The anticipation of any sporting event is ramped up when it is preceded by top-notch design and animation. We see it in Formula 1, with the F1 logo swooping onto the screen to the sound of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain, and the design team behind the World Cup have come up with a clever logo, graphics and TV opening sequence that actually encompasses 240 different animations.

It starts as an egg

Conceptually, an egg is a logical starting point for anything, and what could be more Russian than one of the Fabergé variety. This is the inspiration by the jewel- encrusted “magical ball” that we see flying across a football stadium and passing
various iconic symbols and images that reflect different aspects of Russian history and culture. These include Saint Basil’s Cathedral, which is a typical example of Russian architecture, a space rocket and numerous creatures from Russian legend and mythology such as the zilant.

A theme that runs through the event

The opening sequences are impressive, and the logo itself cleverly blends the standard FIFA motif with a Russian-style typeface to make it a twist upon the familiar. However, the work of the designers did not stop there. The graphical elements and themes run right through the event, and are also used in other on-screen information such as scores, line ups, substitutions and so on. Everypiece  leads back to that central element, the FIFA World Cup 2018 logo itself. The trophy-shaped emblem in red, blue, black and gold is designed to reference classic aspects of Russian art, while the window containing stars and the star-studded ball provide another nod to both Russia’s history as space pioneers and the wholeconcept  of magic and dreams.

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