The logo of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, was unveiled this week at a press conference in Red Square by IOC president Jacques Rogge and other dignitaries. Said Rogge of the logo, which was developed by Interbrand, “It’s very appealing. It’s very creative, innovative. I think it will appeal especially to the young population.”
We’ll look at it in a few moments, but first I want to look at something else — a competing entry from the Moscow design firm Transformer Studio that blends five visual concepts in a graceful image that works at every scale.
Transformer’s creative brief was brief . . .
“The goal was to scatter the myth about the image of Russia as a cold and unfriendly country. The symbolics should represent Russia and its genuine friendly spirit and hospitality.”
. . . and partly pictorial . . .
Said Transformer of the images above . . .
“People are dancing in a cheerful circle dance, holding hands, laughing and singing. Khorovod* is a symbol of unity. The logotype consists of palekh*-stylized firebirds’ feathers in a round dance.
“Firebird is a Slavic fairytale character, symbol of fire, light and sun. Young men had to find firebirds’ feathers in order to complete the challenge.
“Since the beginning of the Olympics, champions have been given the highest honor to be awarded by a wreath. Five feathers form the laureate wreath, which symbolizes five continents as in the Olympic sign.”
*Khorovod: traditional Russian circle dance
*Palekh: Russian national folk art
From these ideas and images, they designed the entry below . . .
Typeface: Co Headline OT
. . . which clearly integrates all five elements: the circle dance, the flame, the feathers, the laurel wreath and the idea of unity, all colored to correspond to the Olympic rings.
It’s very functional. It works in one color (and in negative) . . .
It works small . . .
. . . and it works big . . .
Note on the balloon the relationships of scale. The logo appears twice; the first is small and complete, and the second is so big that there’s room for only part of it. The contrast is fantastic — it’s a bold, arresting, almost overwhelming presentation that will connect worldwide even on small screens.
So now back to Tuesday’s unveiling.
The logo chosen for these games is not that one but this one:
There are several visual ideas embodied in this design, plus a functional one — it’s a Web address, which is a first.
The Sochi2014.ru site describes the logo as “a 21st-century brand for a digital generation,” designed to “actively encourage dialog between Russians, nations and winter sports fans, particularly youth.” Its (semi-)mirrored typography is intended to represent Sochi’s location on the Black Sea, “at the meeting point of the sea and the mountains.”
The second part of the brand is a blue and white snow crystal pattern . . .
This logo, too, is very functional. It works in any color and in negative . . .
It works small . . .
. . . it works big . . .
. . . and of course it works in all media . . .
So the question is, what do you think of these designs? I have a favorite and an analysis, but before I tell you mine, I want to hear from you.
Before you write, mull awhile. Don’t make a knee-jerk reaction.
What does each logo say to you?
What visual characteristics are “doing the talking”? Which do you like? Which do you not like? Can you say why?
Deconstruct. As designers, it’s our job to make this stuff, and we need to understand what we’re doing.
Keep in mind that a host-city logo represents a transitory event and, unlike the Olympic rings, does not need to endure.
The first logo is my favorite.
I can “see” more in the colored-feathered logo than I can in the so-called (semi-) mirrored typography logo. The nice-flowing curves of the feathers suggest relaxation and freedom. The feathers also form a circle shape, which relates to a ring in the Olympic logo. And each feather is colored-matched to the rings in the Olympic logo. (You could take the Olympic logo away and it would still relate, which to me makes it very strong.) This is subtle, but I also like the flower-like serifs in the “S” and “H” in the word “Sochi,” looking very similar to the colored feathers. Lastly, the logo also looks like an angled wreath, somewhat exciting while somewhat confident, like a crown on a king’s head.
For some reason, I don’t quite understand the second logo.
It’s simple and bold, grid-like and aligned neatly, but it doesn’t speak to me. If it’s supposed to represent Sochi, the Black Sea, and the meeting point of the . . . and that’s where it loses me. I think there’s too much in the logo for me to understand and relate to it. If the Olympic logo were taken away from this logo, I think I would be lost.
Both logos are nice. I do like the second one, but compared to the first logo, I like the first logo better.
Well, first of all, I am a citizen of one of the ex-socialist countries. Maybe because of this, maybe because of my taste, I do think that the second variant (the actual logo itself) is WAY better than the “London 2012” logo.
The first one, for me, is some kind of variant of the Mozilla Firefox tail, honestly.
The second one . . . I think the dot needs more rounded corners.
But it is what it is, no matter how many comments we will write here — two or two hundred.
I must say I felt true disappointment when you revealed that the first logo was not the logo picked. Maybe it’s because I’m sentimental when it comes to the Olympics, and it made me feel comfortable, maybe even nostalgic. It really is beautiful. However, I do realize that they may not be marketing to me (a 30-year-old) but to the younger generation. I really don’t love the second logo, but I do feel it connects with the Facebook social-media genre of design . . . so maybe it feels more comfortable with that younger crowd.
This strategy does humor me, though. The last two Olympic games didn’t do so well at broadcasting over the web (2008 was better, but the sudden switch to silverlight was a huge debacle). They must realize that this younger generation they’re trying so hard to reach with this relevant logo isn’t watching on the TV, but on their laptops and mobile devices. If they’re going all in with this design, I hope they’ve got a better strategy for viewers than they’ve had in the past as well.
The Transformer Studio Firebird brand is marginally my preference over the sochi2014.ru version. If representing the real Russia is part of the brief, one has gone for a traditional Russia and one for a digital Russia. For me, the sochi2014.ru logo is broken. My first thought was that it was a website and that website was sochi.ru; it took me a while to “see” that the 2014 underneath was part of the web address and that it was actually numbers, not just inverted letters. The colours of it work well for “winter” Olympics, but why should winter games mean a limited colour palette? The Firebird logo, on the other hand, I like the almost-spherical feel of it, which pulls in the idea of a global competition.
As a photographer and not a graphic designer (I read this blog for enlightenment! ;-)), I had a more-instant reaction to like Firebird and dislike sochi2014.ru, so why do I say “marginally” for my preference? Well, although I liked the design, it did not “mean” anything to me. Neither of them did. I had to read the explanation of why they were what they were to “get” them; that made me wonder if they weren’t both trying a bit too hard to be clever!
My reaction to the unveiling while reading this article was twofold — one was almost choking on my coffee out of surprise, and the other was saying “Why?” out loud.
What were they thinking? It’s more of an ad than a logo.
They passed up what seemed to me a timeless Olympic symbol — the laureate wreath — integrated flawlessly into a beautiful logo design.
Instead, they went for an ad for a web site where the Olympic logo seems like an afterthought.
While I like the font and the clever flip of the hi/14, it doesn’t belong on the uniform of an athlete representing his or her country in the Olympics Games.
The Transformer logo is immeasurably better than the Interbrand logo. Transformer is more colorful, more beautiful, more compelling, more traditional, and more symmetrical than the Interbrand effort.
The Transformer image literally brings a tear to my eye. Over forty years melt away, and the premiere sporting event I once dearly loved shines again.
Squaw Valley, Grenoble, Sapporo, Innsbruck, and Lake Placid rise from the ashes and come alive. Jean Claude Killy, the Japanese Nordic jumping team (1-2-3 on 70- and 90- meters), Franz (Klammer der Hammer) Klammer, and Jim (Jungle Jim) Hunter and his savage Canadian downhill team blaze into crystal view. The cold, wet fog of today’s commercialism dissipates, and the sun glints off the true message of man’s finest athletic achievements.
Skill. Grace. Timing. Balance. Speed. Flight. Daring.
Kill yourself for four years. Lay it all on the table for two minutes at 60+ miles per hour. Lay it all down to fly like a rocket well above 300 feet of very, very steep white. God forbid you botch the landing . . . transitioning from 60 degrees downslope to dead-flat at 70+ miles per hour can raise hell with your body — not to mention two eight-foot sticks of fiberglass windmilling around your head.
The IOC colors are bold and daring in their feather/flame configuration. The circle is balanced and symmetrical. The flame cries out (pure) energy and direction. So, too, the oblique of the composite ring. I could use the same adjectives to describe my long-ago heroes and their spellbinding performances.
The Olympics is about tradition — thousands of years of it in spirit, and a hundred years in practice. This singular event brings the world’s finest together to have a gentlemen’s and gentlewoman’s old-fashioned throwdown. Sport is tradition. Excellence is tradition. So too losing. So too winning.
And . . . sometime . . . the favorite crashes, and the other guy wins.
Tough luck. Athlete or logo — it’s all the same in this case.
Another tear — a tear of a very different sort — comes to mind when I see an internet URL in a predominantly monochromatic Olympic logo. It’s a tear from an aching heart stabbed by the profanity of technology and commercialism.
The first logo is more beautiful, and more integrated. The second looks very harsh. The first and second lines almost mirror each other upside down, so you spend a lot of time looking at that.
Also the elements in the second logo are not harmonious. The techy looking font fights not only the Olympic circles but the ice pattern as well, which doesn’t go with either. I do like having the web address, but otherwise, this hurts the eyeballs.
The first one has movement and elegance.
I, too, was shocked to see the alphabet logo selected. The Transformer Studio logo beautifully represents the eternal and passionate pursuit of excellence and the human spirit. The entire logo creates an ovoid or egg shape, representational of renewable life. Frankly, I didn’t even discern that 2014 was in the second logo at first. And the Olympic rings stuck on the end look like an afterthought. It is hard and “industrial” and the branding ice crystals, while clever, seem brittle and distant. This does not represent what I know of Slavic cultures.
I like the first logo. I feel it’s more in touch with what the Olympics symbolize for me (maybe that’s selfish as a designer, but I find my emotional experiences help me connect to design concepts). The first design incorporates the torch, which I think is a very important symbol to the games. It incorporates the circle, a symbol of unity, recognized globally as the Olympic logo.
The second design leaves me feeling…urban. Geeky (in a techie sense). Trendy. I would expect this design to work well for a multimedia development company, or a popular Internet brand, or a social website. It doesn’t feel Olympics-ish. It feels like an electric car commercial.
When I saw the first logo after all the introduction and seeing the references, I was in awe! What a beautiful way to evoke movement, grace, and energy! Then reading more, I saw the one chosen. The second one. And I was disappointed. Not because it is a bad mark. I think it is well designed, and it does fulfill some commercial needs, but it is cold, harsh, and it brings a sense of uniformity to one’s mind that does not evoke the spirit of the Olympics. I see how the second one might be easier to implement in patterns and applications, but it lacks passion and energy in my opinion. I can see how Nikola might see Firefox’ s tail on the first one, but this is one of those cases where the stronger associations with the spirit of the Olympics might prevail in some of us. I did not see it until I read it, but even then, that association was quickly forgotten. The first logo is my favorite; it offers an emotional connection the second one doesn’t.
I fell in love with the first logo. What a pity they picked the second. No offense, but anything I see with .ru on it makes me think scam . . . run AWAY. The .ru domain is notoriously connected with phishers, scammers, gamers, etc. If they are trying to appeal to a younger crowd, I think they will fail because the youngsters know about phishing, hacking and .ru. And anyway, most of that young generation could care less about the games. You really tend to wonder if any true demo research is done. Anyway, I think an epic FAIL on the logo choice this time around. The first one is iconic, symbolic and classic. The second is a first-year design student F.
Figures. Looking at it you can almost hear some marketer say, “Make it more web 2.0.”
The first logo, hands down. It is appealing and inviting, all the forms integrate well, and it looks good on the uniforms.
The chosen logo looks like a high-school project. The Olympic rings look like an afterthought, and, to me, the ice crystals are simply awful. The idea of them is intriguing, but the way they are done is jarring.
I know you said don’t do knee-jerk, but anyway . . .
I much prefer the first logo visually. It has fluidity and rhythm and strongly ties into the Olympics. BUT, you could take the name Sochi out and replace it with any other city in the world. Without your explanations of the firebird feather, etc., I would not have understood the significance and would have thought purely of Olympic laurel wreaths, so it strikes me as much more of a generic Olympics logo. A beautiful one, but still generic. The reflecting “hi” and “14” in the second logo make the name a more substantial aspect of it — the logo would not work as well without it, so if I were picking a logo to promote the city, I would pick the second. If I were just trying to promote the Olympics, I’d go for the first one.
Oh, the blue and purple triangles, though, strike me as superfluous and say nothing to me at all. Too many, too abstract, too redundant.
The brief was:
“… to scatter the myth about the image of Russia as a cold and unfriendly country. The symbolics should represent Russia and its genuine friendly spirit and hospitality.”
The Transformer brand is visually interesting — rainbow colours, it’s a circle, which contains the eye, and the firebird feather motif is eye-catching also.
The long axis is vertical, and everything is centred on that axis. I think that smothers the life of the logo somewhat.
The Interbrand logo is blue and cold, and the slab typeface is just plain confusing. The swap from solid letters in Sochi to outlined in .ru just adds to the confusion. All this seems to fly in the face of the design brief.
I do like the the ice-crystal design. Very fresh and tangy. The best part of coldness :-)
In balance, I prefer the Transformer one (although as someone else said it does have Mozilla undertones), but I would like it to be on a strong horizontal axis.
While I like the three-dimensional appearance of the first logo, it almost seems like overkill. Now there are three elements to the logo, and if you removed the top circle, it could also stand on its own, with the type and the traditional Olympic rings. I also thought at first that the “flame” was a leaf, and I had to look closely to establish what it really was. (I purposely didn’t read the descriptions before looking at the logos, and I didn’t “get” it the first time.) I think I would rather see the lettering of Sochi 2014 presented in a more appealing manner, if possible, to convey the spirit without cluttering up the landscape with three elements.
As for the second, I do like the triangular snowflakes pattern, as it’s more recognizable as wintery. It’s very catchy and works well in different sizes. While it’s functional, I don’t really like the type. I had to look a few extra seconds to realize that the mirror image said 2014. I also winced when I realized that the web address was incorporated into the logo; I don’t like that at all. I think that while it’s effective in some respects, it also cheapens it in others, making it too commercial instead of a piece of art.
Personally I prefer the first one. There are the obvious reasons: colorful, curvy, round and yet breaking out of the circle.
As someone who’s not too big into watching the games, this logo gets my attention and piques my interest. It accomplishes the goal of making Russia friendly and inviting. I feel like Russia is inviting me to be a part of the games.
Whereas the second feels like they’re unapproachable and telling me, “We’re allowing you to come here, but you must abide by our rules.” Which seem to be hard, cold and unbendable, and not fitting with the nations-uniting concept.
Yes, the second is more modern, streamlined and tight. Yet its coldness and generic-feeling look make me say, “I’ll pass thanks.”
I would venture to say that those participating in the Olympics would prefer the second logo. Young, firm, disciplined and on the cutting edge.
And perhaps those watching would prefer the first logo. A friendly invitation. A sense of freedom and union with others. A break from fast, streamlined and regimented to just relaxing, being a part of and cheering on.
Oh my. How could anyone see the first logo and not be thrilled with it? It does everything the designer describes, and is one of the best Olympic logos in memory, IMHO. The one they chose is cold, hard, unfriendly and very dated. Reminds me of the Soviet Union. If the best that can be said about it is that it is “functional,” well, so is my snow shovel. So are prison bars. The rejected logo is very clean, uplifting, graceful, and elegant. And the multiple levels of symbolism are immediately apparent. What a missed opportunity! Pass the vodka, comrade. The proletariat has no use for beauty or expression.
Great comments from everyone so far. I, too, am disappointed in the logo choice.
I thought that the first one embodied the Olympic brand. Inspired by its location, and also using the timelessness of the Olympic games, it is elegant, inspiring and tells the history of the games.
The .ru logo is definitely timely, but it looks like everything else we see these days. If it weren’t for the Olympic rings, I would think that it is another show airing on NBC . . . hey! wait a minute . . . it is! . . . so I guess in that way it works.
To be honest, the London Olympic logo has made every other city logo obsolete. Whatever logo any city chooses from now on, they can always say, “Well, at least it’s not as bad as the London one”. . .
I can’t help but muse in thinking ahead to 2014 — will this truly be the style that is cutting edge/modern at these future times? I would rather go with a design that is classic, balanced, bright and representative of the country and event; i.e., showing movement, athleticism, grace, honor, poise, balance, speed, agility, competition and sportsmanship. I can honestly say that the first logo does these things for me.
The chosen logo makes me think that Russia lives more in the past than the future. The font reminds me of something out of a 1983 video game and not in a good way. Although style trends are well known to come back every 20 years, I do not think that designers should assume that they can foresee what’s on our future design horizon, nor should they influence it in a negative way.
I like the triangles in the second logo’s photos, but do they even complement it? Why could the logo not stick with one general geometry style — does it have to combine curved lines with boxy ones? I thought I already learned these lessons from John McWade . . .
Lastly, the overall reasoning for choosing this logo I believe was flawed. I don’t think the youth/digital generation would connect more to this logo than the first. If anything, the first logo is more Web 2.0 to my eye than the second — but again, maybe they were going for Web 4.0. It might be nice if the chosen logo made better usage of the mirror effect of the lettering, or a color change, or something so that there could at least be some movement. The blue color only makes me think of one thing: cold. It’s not how I’d like my country to be portrayed.
I don’t know what the brief was for the chosen logo, but it certainly confirms the myth that Russia is a cold and unfriendly country.
I didn’t read the second line as 2014, either. The “4” looks like a “y.”
I don’t mind the ice crystals, but they’re hard, cold, sharp. Where is the grace, the fluidity, the movement of the winter sports?
Short and sweet . . . I like the first logo for all the reasons mentioned in the comments above. Love it, actually.
I believe the chosen logo will turn out to be a huge mistake.
I looked and looked and looked at it, and my brain was having an argument with my eyes. I didn’t even “see” the 2014 until I left and came back to look at it again. To my eyes and brain it looked like “zoiy,” which has as much relevance to me as “sochi.ru”
Makes me really glad I’m not on the sochi2014.ru marketing team!
I like the official (Interbrand) logo. Maybe it’s because I’m “the young population,” but I’m not usually taken by just any youthful, techno-urban aesthetic, so I wouldn’t write me off.
I like the Transformers logo, too. It seems light as a feather and swift as a flame, which is very Olympic and very “correct,” but that’s precisely why I don’t care for it. If you ignore the decidedly contemporary typeface, which is not the main element anyway, it could be a logo from any year, any place. It seems anonymous and stock — lacking a relationship to something outside of itself.
The games are always a historic event, and I believe each brand should be tied to its specific moment in history.
It’s such a rich visual experience to see posters from the ’68 games in Mexico, with the curved and ruler-straight lines emanating from, and defining, the logo. It looks at once very late Sixties and somehow very Mexican. In one logo, you get a sense of the time and place in which the world’s people came together for . . . the Olympic Games. I don’t think anyone looks at that and thinks, “Why didn’t they do something more traditional?”
Does one of the oldest traditions in human culture really need to look more traditional? Or should it have the lovely stain of its own contemporaneous vernacular, indicating at increments the changing sensibility of people on earth? I’m not trying very hard to conceal which I find more interesting!
If 2014, designed in 2009, looks like a chunky series of vaguely Soviet-looking letterforms, so appropriated by new generations for their internet-saturated world as to look like a radio station for euro-pop dance club music, then so be it!!
Now and in the future when we page through books with headings set in Gotham and think of “the Age of Obama,” we may also watch videos and hold ephemera in our hands from Sochi 2014 and think of that time in history when the internet had become such a force that a tradition, formed in the cradle of modern civilization, suddenly had a URL extension defining its identity.
The way this story is written, with all the symbols explained, and the logo with everything combined including the colors, how it works with a solid color or reversed, made me feel very warm and fuzzy and I really, really liked the flowing image. Then the slam: This logo was not chosen, and here’s the one they chose. This made me angry and feeling a bit used. (I’m being dramatic, I know). Anyway, I liked the first logo a lot, because of all the qualities described. It flows nicely and looks good on the clothing and banners. It took me a while to warm up to the chosen logo, and I’m still not sure how I feel. It has a cold feeling to it compared to the first submission (not cold as in winter temperatures). The letters are not easy to read at first, and particularly the numbers. But I get it — the “14” in 2014 looks like a reflection of the “hi” in sochi, and the “2” is an upside-down “s”— however, I’m not sure that does it for me. I’m not familiar with .ru, so this will open new doors for me and probably others, and will help people remember the web address. Hopefully, it will all work out for everyone involved in the Olympics, but I felt the first logo entry was more favorable.
The first logo is almost so good it is perfect — truly something to aspire to as a designer.
The second is a joke. The explanation of what it is meant to symbolise is such a stretch of the imagination that surely they are having a lend. Don’t try to pigeonhole the younger generation with a stereotype logo of what you think appeals to them. Do something unique, energetic and hopeful, and they will respond better to that.
Transformer’s logo has three separate parts all adjacent to each other but not integrated into a single Gestalt.
The circle is too complicated to read well from a distance — all that detail blurs together, leaving no well-defined form.
I can see how they started with “firebird,” “dance” etc., and ended up with the fancy circle, but no one looking at the circle cold will say “hey, I see a firebird, etc., in that logo.”
Nonetheless, it’s colorful and full of life, which is appealing and beneficial. And, unlike Interbrand’s logo, the way the term “Sochi 2014” is presented clearly implies that “Sochi” is a location and that the Olympics will be held there in 2014 — therefore making the logo self-teaching in a way that Interbrand’s is not.
Interbrand’s logo is boring but functional, and clearly communicates “the Sochi Olympics,” which is its main job (although Sochi is not a world-renowned location, so most people won’t know what a “sochi” is until the media teaches them it’s a location in Russia).
It also has a fatal flaw: Anyone who guesses that “.ru” might indicate a web address will read the address as “sochi.ru,” not “sochi2014.ru.” So people will try it, fail, and conclude that it’s not a web address after all.
To my eye, it’s all in the Olympic rings. In the Transformer logo the rings seem superfluous (because the feathers are the same color), and I agree that a horizontal axis might have worked better.
In the Interbrand logo the Olympic rings seem wimpy and not quite in the right position.
My favorite concept is the firebird, promoting warmth and friendliness. I haven’t lived in snow for years, but coming in from the cold to enjoy a nice hot cup of cocoa and good company after the day’s excitement is more appealing than being stabbed to death by hundreds of ice shards. In other words, the chosen logo just seems unrelentingly cold.
Knee jerk reactions are usually correct.
Logo #1 is beautiful and inviting, I want to touch it.
Logo #2 makes me think of communism and the Berlin wall. It literally made me cringe.
I like the second one. The logo does not have to represent tradition, because life moves forward.
To me it is:
Russia has an opportunity to do what China did (successfully) with the Olympic Games — reintroduce itself to the world with a modern identity that celebrates both its rich history and a bright future. The first logo epitomizes this. I can hear the Olympic announcers now with a million human-interest stories tied to the ideals of the first logo. Ultimately, these are the stories that suck all of us into the Olympics, regardless of demographic.
The second logo perpetuates all the negative stereotypes of Russia as cold and hard. The snow crystals denote a harsh sharpness as well.
Also, it’s dangerous to create a logo that appeals to today’s young technology trends for an event that is four years out — the biggest trend in 2014 is barely a glimmer in someone’s eye today.
At first when I saw the “flame” logo, I thought, “that is so cool” — blending together the elements that make up not only the Olympic spirit, but the spirit of the host city/country. And as you go on to show how it works in different media avenues, it really had me saying that they picked the correct one.
Ah, then you show us the one that WAS picked. At first, it was a total letdown. No creativity at all, just a strange font and a simple reflection technique.
But . . . as you go through the various media avenues as you did before, it suddenly took on a new presence. It was actually starting to work. The ice crystals added a nice touch, and in the end I found myself thinking this is pretty cool. It’s edgy, it’s current, and because of the Russian “feel” of the font, it does convey the spirit of the host country.
So surprisingly, my vote is for the one that was chosen. Just goes to show you that it’s not only about how a logo “looks,” but how it can transform into something totally unexpected given some tactful education and artful uses of media presentations.
I don’t get it.
Was everyone who submitted given the same creative brief?
“The goal was to scatter the myth about the image of Russia as a cold and unfriendly country. The symbolics should represent Russia and its genuine friendly spirit and hospitality.”
The logo and symbolics chosen are sharp, cold, harsh and clearly not friendly. It embodies a sense of commercialism vs. the spirit of a country or of the Olympics, an honored, worldwide event.
Does Sochi’s Olympic logo work?
No, not for me.
If I hadn’t seen an alternative at all, I would still think the same.
Honestly, I think Transformer fulfilled the creative brief perfectly. Interbrand did the opposite.
What does each logo say to me?
1) Transformer — warm, friendly, meaningful
2) Interbrand — cold, sharp, hostile
What visual characteristics are “doing the talking”?
1) The wreath has perspective, movement and growth . . . and something else I picked up on . . .
Even though the Olympic ring colours are not meant to represent a particular continent but the colours in all the world’s flags, here the blue and red (of the Russian flag) are waving larger than the others of equal size. It’s brilliant, considering they covered the other elements you pointed out. You could do a documentary on the clever thought behind this logo.
2) The blue is cold; the triangles show shattered ice.
I totally missed the 2014, and like others I wouldn’t have included it when keying the web address.
. . . hmm as for targeting “youth,” why? Will they buy tickets to travel there?
They are just showing to the youth that Russia is still as cold and uninviting as older generations perceive it.
I definitely prefer the first logo . . . I feel sorry for the design studio that lost!
The first logo is vibrant.
The font of the second logo says “Soviet Union” to me . . . very, very outdated.
The second logo, for better or worse, SCREAMS “hey, we’re having the Olympics in Russia in 2014.” Both the typeface and the “.ru” hammer that home — anyone who sees it will immediately know what’s up.
The first, while beautiful and full of energy, could be from any city on any continent.
The first logo was breathtaking (especially on the hot air balloon).
Until I read it in the comments, I thought the 2014 in the second logo was Cyrillic for “Sochi” — I would never have guessed from a glance that it was numbers (because the “4” is so oversized compared to the other digits), or that it was part of a web address.
I didn’t get that the triangles were also part of the branding, which brings me to my next point:
I would gladly display Olympic swag with the first logo on it for a long time, and perhaps want to collect various commemorative junk from the 2014 games. The other logo is not something I’d want to have sitting on my shelf for any length of time.
But both of them are better than the London logo . . .
The Firebird logo is not only visually stunning and well-balanced, but the organic shapes imply graceful, calculated movement and lift the viewer’s eye upward. The effect is inspiring, exciting, and proud — worthy of Olympic achievement.
The Interbrand logo looks like a rehash of the original. Visually, it is solid and very static. The choice of typestyle — cold and futuristic — gives a sense of rigidity and restriction of movement. The blue and white snow-crystal pattern looks like angry little teeth that do not relate to the logo at all (and look just plain silly on a man’s parka). The only thing I like about this logo is that the heavy type is readable at any size and looks good masking a photo.
My feelings notwithstanding, if the judges were looking to draw a young, digital audience, they made the right choice. The inspirational elegance of yesterday versus cold, hard, unemotional materialism of today. Yes, they got what they were after. Sadly.
This and most of the replies demonstrates that the customer is always right, and not necessarily what designers would think best.
The designer of the first logo should have done a better job educating the customer about how the logo would be enticing and perceived by a very wide target audience.
With the first logo, the company used a negative, a no-no in my book unless it was something the customer directly asked to be addressed in the design. They should have just turned the negative into a positive.
Like/dislike aren’t really relevant to this discussion. I like #1, but so what? #2 is more on target, even if it is a little too clever for its own good.
The 2014 in #2 reminds me a bit of the almost-subliminal arrow in the FedEx logo. It’s invisible until you “get” it, and from then on it’s impossible to miss. But whereas the FedEx arrow is there but utterly discreet, the reflection dominates #2 and stops the eye, obscuring the fact that the lower part is to be read as the year. That’s a flaw, because it draws attention to its own cleverness, away from the message. It’s like seeing the mechanism behind a magic trick: the illusion is spoiled.
#2 does seem at first glance to be at odds with the creative brief (assuming all entries had the same one). It’s quite static, Soviet-industrial, and heavy, a modern take on 1930’s propaganda posters. But the ice-crystal motif adds delicacy and playfulness that offset the solidity of the logo. Together they do say “Winter Games,” or at least “Winter,” which #1 does not.
From the perspective of the “client,” #2 also has one huge advantage: the city name and Russia are integral to the logo, impossible to miss or to omit. Given the patriotism that is implicit in the brief, that gives it great strength.
The Interbrand logo chosen is flat, lifeless and has no discernible character. It’s static, and the “4” looks like a lower case “y”. Until reading the explanation, I didn’t even see the 2014 as a date. I assumed it was a Russian word “ZOIY.” The approved design isn’t as bad as the London Olympics logo, but it’s close.
The gorgeous, circular firebird logo is stunning and wonderfully aesthetic. It could have been slightly improved by adding “Russia” in widely spaced small caps under the Sochi 2014 to announce the country, but it’s the superior of the two by far. It has motion, excitement, color, and creates an emotional impact.
The only interesting thing about the approved logo, however, is the 5-ring design of the Olympics itself. The Sochi.ru 2014 text is completely uninspired and just lies there like a dead mackerel. Fire the logo approval board immediately!
At the first look, I like the first logo. But after a while that I look again and again, I am sure I love the second design. This one is more modern, more cold (for the winter Olympics), and it gives enough space for image.
I was blown away by the first logo. It’s warm, inviting, imaginative, and says so many positive things about Russia’s rich culture and its willingness to offer that to the rest of the world, which I am more than happy to embrace.
The second logo leaves me cold. I am reminded of the opening credits of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and that’s not what I associate with the Olympics. We’re talking about flesh-and-blood human beings, and I think that, unfortunately, the chosen logo may emphasize the fact that now everything depends on our computerized record-keeping in all of its 0:0001 (pick one-meter, second, etc.) digitalized form.
These games are, after all, about bringing people together for peaceful and friendly competition, not slinging digital fonts and ice daggers at them. I think Russia will find itself disserved by the chosen logo.
I very much like the first logo. It is just a very beautiful and Olympic logo. But it is not really refreshing or new; I think it is a very safe design. Maybe it is just too smooth, too perfect, too Olympic. It blends in too much.
The second one is cold and bold. It does have Russia written all over it. It emphasizes the image that we already have of Russia (cold and distant). I don’t like the icy snowflakes; they make the whole design seem very outdated. The guy in the coat looks like he comes straight from the eighties.
And yet, if I have to pick one, it would be the second one. My first reaction was the first one, but thinking about it I would pick the second. Not because I really like the design (visually I like the first one better), but because it is different and modern.
Overall, I prefer the first logo. Yet the choice of the second logo, which is in fact cold, the broken glass effect, the blues, etc., works for me if I think, “winter Olymics.”
The first can be argued as being so much warmer, more friendly and more appealing and maybe more in tune with its history and current young, democratic position.
But Russia has a lot of history with winter sports, and thinking just “winter Olympics,” I would probably go with the second.
Turn the 2014 upside down and it spells Hios, the love-child of Poseiden and Hiona, according to Wikipedia. Perhaps this is not a coincidence but another reference to the Black Sea? I think the chosen logo gives the impression that Russia desires. Cold, for the winter Olympics; digital, for a new generation, and strong; Russia must always appear strong.
Ok, I thought about it.
I would have to type in the web address a few times to get it right.
not easy or very user friendly.
The logo looks industrial and cold, and that is how I think of Russia. So if that is how Russia is (which I doubt), they’ve nailed it.
I think the first logo is hands-down the best. It captures the spirit of the Olympics as well as the warmth and hospitality of the Russian people. It is actually better suited for the summer games, but it is still better than the one chosen.
The Interbrand design is cold like the winter games, but it is also cold and harsh like the global impression of the former Soviet nation. When I see the the crystalline design, it reminds me of the Bond movie, “Die Another Day.” Bad PR and bad design, in my opinion.
The chosen design is boring. It reinforces the ice-and-snow-wasteland picture.
The one-that-lost-out (OTLO) design brings alive the immense possibilities of colour against the white expanse of ice.
There is something perverse about the young relating to the chosen, because the designers forgot that all of us are a mix of the old and the new.
On any scale, the first is a winner.
To me, a logo must say something. It must send a message, a feeling — and the first one does that — but overall, it must communicate! The second one just displays a website, and it says that it is near the Black sea. Okay! It may work, but does it inspire me? Not at all.
Rather the point that it’s a transitory event, when you look at the past logos of other Olympics, you can feel the culture of the country or of the city; also, you can put them in time for their style and their composition. It makes history to me. The first one does but not the second.
And now my second thought. I think that both logos are missing something. The first does not give the website address, and the second does not inspire me enough. The challenge was to make both — the message and the website address. That would have been a perfect job.
Not so far in time, a great designer said something like “A bad design that communicate is better than a beautiful design that doesn’t. The challenge is to make both”. And when you think at this, the second logo does the job but it could have been better in is style.
Hands down — the first logo designed by the Moscow firm is spot on. Dynamic, with movement and a well-thought-out tribute to the Russian culture, and Olympic in feel. Love the feather, flame, and spinning-laurel motif. The selected logo reminds me of the old USSR type treatments from the 70s. Really poor choice in my opinion.
What a mistake.
The first, circular feathers meets all the criteria a logo should — relevant to industry, dynamic and energetic like the athletes, easily recognized to represent the Olympics, easy to remember, and, of course, scalable and effective with or without color.
The second is static, takes too long to figure out, is not memorable, and how does it relate to the Olympics? It doesn’t; it’s a friggin’ website. How many of us can now, without looking back, do a fairly good sketch of the feathers? Now how about the second logo?
Yeah, I thought so.
It’s the battle between emotional vs. functional. To me, the Olympics are about emotion (“the thrill of victory versus the agony of defeat”), so the first version gets a 10 from me. The second, 7.5, since it leaves me cold.
Hmmm. The first logo reminded me of campfire girls. It felt like a bit too much. It feels familiar.
Despite most of the comments, the first one feels more dated to me, not quite finished. What I did like a lot was the third blue campfire. That alone, or with the fifth red one, could have been a neat logo, since the five Olympic rings are below — melding the glacier with the warmth of the Olympics. (Seemed a tad redundant to have five above and five below)
The winner appeals to me, even though it’s got a cold feel. But it is the winter Olympics. It’s very mod, very minimalist, very green. I say green because it’s underkill, and that’s good for the planet. The ice crystals look neat on the jacket. It’s got a Russian, high-tech feel, but the Olympics are high tech with all the equipment, so that doesn’t bother me. I like the placement of the five Olympic rings. It’s compact, like a skier in a tuck position . . .
The Internet address suggests an international community!
I think any logo that needs to be explained does not work as well as it should. All the imagery and thought behind the Transformer circle are of no value or import to someone looking at the design all by itself. That said, while I am in awe of the creation of the circular flame motif, I think the end result is actually emotionless. I am reminded of Jonny Lang, whose blues guitar playing is impeccable. And boring. Give me an out-of-tune, imperfectly intoned, arrhythmic lead any time. That is where the emotion lies.
And that’s what I get from the mirrored version. Certainly, I saw the mirror effect. And of course, I had no idea about the mountains reflecting off the Black Sea — come on! If you see that Sochi and 2014 are both solid, and the dot ru are outline, then you can decipher the order in which to read the words. I think the Olympic rings look added-in. Which makes me think there might be a better solution than this version. But all in all, the second one works better as a logo: It defines the city and the time, as well as the country and the season.
The ice crystals are not part of the logo. They are a design element to be included as needed. As such, I personally do not like them in universal application: the coat is silly; the car is cool.
To me, good design isn’t about the perfect manipulation of elements per se; it’s about manipulating elements to tell a story. There is no story in the fiery design; there is some story in the ice design.
For a logo for a specific event at a specific site, and choosing only between these two, I vote #2 Da!
i agree with just about everyone . . . the first one has a lot of meaning and it is quite striking. the second one is cold and boring, but i can see why it was picked based on our media-frenzied world. too bad.
had to laugh . . . i have a running joke with others in my graphics department. we give consultants three or four design options for a project, and they usually go with the one we like the least.
Well, if you take all the objectives that the designers of the first logo claimed (and which they executed with stunning panache), then you have defined the antithesis of what the second logo delivers in terms of message and feel. Militaristic, formal, cold (icy cold), distant, rigid, authoritarian . . . all that is conveyed by the actual logo used. Even the shapes of the letters are rigid roadways telling you where you’re going to go next. (Except they take you exactly nowhere.)
In addition, the second logo simply doesn’t scan; you have no idea where to go next with your eye. I had to force myself to look at all the various parts; I simply didn’t care to go on. What message do they think they’re sending, and where am I supposed to look to get it?
Perhaps they thought they were being “safe,” that the first logo was too “out there.” Ah, bureaucratchiks in charge.
After mulling over many aspects of the Olympics: social, history, post-marketing, athletic skill and talent, the TV market for the games, the emotional context and the broad audience that the games reach, I have to say the first logo edges out the second one by a hair.
They are both visually excellent but emphasize different aspects of the Olympic games. The first highlights the emotional and historic aspects of the Olympics and gives the viewer that uplifted feeling “better, faster, higher, longer.” The second embraces the invitation to share, communicate and participate.
I think the first one will speak to a broad audience. The second one will tend to grab those connected to the digital world, leaving behind the oldest members of a population and those who can only afford to participate in the Olympics by viewing it via TV.
In the end, the Olympic Games strive to be global, uplifting and exciting. The majority of the audience will watch (and record) via TV broadcast. The first logo fits right into that arena and would have been warmly received if chosen.
Love the first one. Don’t “get” the second one. I grew up in a family that was obsessed with the Olympics, and so there are about 50 years of tradition that I’m familiar with. The first logo speaks not only to that tradition in a way that is comforting and appealing, but it also speaks to a future that is inviting and accessible.
I like the view of the second one on the cell phone, because I think for that media it works. It’s modern and flashy, but I don’t think it’s media that should necessarily blaze the trail, I think it’s the emotion and the expectation of what the Olympics has symbolized since the first games. In that regard, the first logo works beautifully.
Also, the font on the second reminds me of those 1980s computer fonts used on movies and video games. Very far from the fresh, modern look it covets.
I like the Transformer logo much better than the chosen one. I don’t know how and why the selection team found the typography and “mirror” idea unique and new.
Plus the logo should give a message for the whole concept, not just the location (mountain and lake? — so what).
No doubt the first logo, main message, visual and colors are much better than the second one.
Looks great. And a good explanation of where it came from, too.
I’d love to see the reasoning behind the London 2012 ;-)
Like most of the commentators before, I highly prefer the first one. It’s more lively and organic and reflects so many aspects of the Olympic Games, as has been clearly written down here in many comments. Maybe the first one does a kind of trend-surfing, since it resembles a lot of this web-2.0-logo stuff (someone mentioned “Firefox tail,” right?). But I think this doesn’t matter, since this logo has to work for just four years, and then it’s gone. It has to be somewhat “contemporary,” “communicative” and friendly, and the first one meets all of these requirements. It can easily been deconstructed, and parts of the wreath can be used as recognizable decorative design elements on a bigger scale, as seen on the balloon.
The second one looks to me cold and square-edged, in spite of its rounded corners. Construction work with ruler and compass? At first I didn’t get even the “2014” in the logo; I thought it would be the writing of “Sochi” in Cyrillic, but it wasn’t. No good typography at all. Reflections? Are you kidding? Does any part of the second line represent a correct reflection of the first, in terms of geometry? The accompanying pattern of ice or snow more resembles broken glass, since the symmetry of frozen water is hexagonal, not triangular. Literally I wouldn’t like to touch this stuff. The last point: Getting the “generation web” connected: Nobody should think it would be as easy as expanding a given name with a dot and a domain and you’re done. If this would be the one and only effort for getting the Olympic Games more attractive to the web, it wouldn’t be enough.
I thought the second logo was for a clothing brand, not for the Olympics. And, isn’t it supposed to be about expressing the essence visually and not promoting a web site? The first one wins my vote. It captures the spirit of the games.
“The goal was to scatter the myth about the image of Russia as a cold and unfriendly country. The symbolics should represent Russia and its genuine friendly spirit and hospitality.” That is what the first one does. The second totally misses this mark by appearing very rigid and almost as if not very much thought went into it. I, too, missed the 2014 in the second; however, I’m not sure what I thought it was.
My vote would be for the first logo if this were the summer Olympics and the second one for the winter Olympics.
While I prefer the first logo (terrific scalability), I think they might be onto something with the second one. They succeed at something memorable, and honestly I have to believe they are promoting the URL extension “.ru” for Russia. We in the U.S. forget what a strange, yet ubiquitous, competitive advantage we have in having cornered most “.com”s in the world. They really serve to represent their country with this logo.
Sometimes the less aesthetic or cool logo is not the most memorable.
What font is that anyway? A new one called Sochi?
Hmmm, I had a good, long hard look at both. I can see the Interbrand (second) logo is trying to be digital and appeal to a young audience, but instead it feels like something you might find on an airlock in “2001 A Space Odyssey,” or the poster for “Planet of the Apes.” It has that 1970s sci-fi feel to me. It’s already dated and will feel more dated when the games are looked back on in years to come.
I can see they’ve tried to be clever with the “so” of the first line kind of reflecting the “20” of the second line, and there is a kind of reflection (reflected and flipped) in the “hi” and “14.”
I like the first logo — the leaf, flame, wreath circle, and also the bold/thin CO Headline typeface used in the Sochi 2014 combination. The typeface is unique and won’t age like the one in the second logo. The whole Transformers logo is just more classy.
I think the Sochi.ru logo is cold. It is hard. It is heavy. It is static. There is no emotion. It doesn’t invite people to participate. It is bad PR for the Russians, because it represents what people think about Russia.
In the first logo I see contrast. It is hot. It remembers “fun,” “action,” “movement,” “peace.”
IMO, both are me-too logos.
I like the first logo! It’s so touch-of-natural feeling like the leaves, also like a flame surrounding the earth. Is very environmentally friendly!!
A lot of great comments. No need to indulge and comment on all that has been said, other than to express my favourite as the first. The chosen one is only missing one thing: the hammer and sickle. Then it would be perfect.
I think it’s a conflicting brief. I think the second one says Russian Winter Olympics much more than the first. I prefer the first one, though. It is a better logo, and it answers the brief — if the brief was to reinvent/revitalise Russia’s image. However, I do prefer the font used for the second one. It says Russia to me (albeit the old Russia!). I don’t like the way the rings look like an afterthought. It seems to be doing three things: rings, website and Russia.
For me, the Sochi logo is sooooo much better than the Transformer one, which I find dated, humdrum and obvious and frankly could be for any city. The Sochi logo is visually Russian, and with the other design elements it speaks of winter and overall is way more contemporary.
My initial response was to choose the first one, the Transformers, and that continued to be my response until I read the very last sentence of your article: “Keep in mind that a host-city logo represents a transitory event and, unlike the Olympic rings, does not need to endure.”
The first logo is by far the superior, and if this were a brand that was intended to be around for a very long time building a presence, a reputation, and a relationship with consumers, then this one would be the one to choose.
However, in this case, this is a single event, gone almost before it’s started, with less time for the logo and the brand to be “embedded” in the minds of the public . . . and that’s where the problem with the first logo lies. The logo itself does not give enough information quickly enough. The location and date of the event appear as secondary pieces of information and will not be quickly remembered by consumers.
For example, a company like Pepsi has its globe motif, which has existed for long enough to become intrinsically connected with the product or company name in the minds of consumers. So without seeing name or product, a consumer can look at the globe motif and instantly think of Pepsi-Cola.
However, this logo will not exist for that long, and there will not be enough time for such relationships to build in the minds of consumers. The key information needs to be front and centre for everybody to see straight away every time they look at the logo.
For this reason, and for this event, the second logo, while not being as visually appealing, achieves its purpose far better than the first logo.
I looked at the logos yesterday and waited a day before responding. I think our backgrounds have a definite effect on how we regard the logos. I’m a web designer, but I have no formal design background and no print media experience, but I’m also 55, not a digital native.
I, too, was disappointed at first when finding out that the second logo was chosen instead of the first. The second was mostly a text logo. But what makes a good logo? What is its job? The first one is lovely, but does it do as good of a job at branding?
The first is more beautiful, but no one will understand the complex symbolism of the colors and feather/flame graphic. It doesn’t say “Russia” to me. It also projects warmth and reminds me of summer. It would have worked better as a summer Olympics logo.
The second is blue, which reminds me of cold, winter, and Russia. It also, unfortunately, reminds me of my image of the old Soviet Union — industrial, hard, angular. Having the .ru reminds most (?) people who the host country is. The “4” looks like a Cyrillic letter, which may be why they chose this font. Even if you don’t see the mirroring symbolism (who would?), it isn’t necessary for interpretation. It relates more to people’s images of Russia and therefore is better at branding.
I really liked the ice crystals, which are easily identified with winter.
I didn’t know that 2014 was part of the web address, either, but if you just type sochi.ru it will redirect to the correct website.
Which would I rather have on a t-shirt? The first logo, because it’s prettier and more colorful, but the second logo with some sort of ice-crystal pattern might be nice, too.
So, I guess I’m voting for the second one, because it is better at saying, “Russia” and “winter.”
I agree with the majority of the commenters, that the first one is a better choice. Even if you agree with the concept of branding for the “digital generation,” the second one fails in that the URL represented looks like sochi.ru, not sochi2014.ru.
Thank you, JMCS, for your passionate and moving comments.
First logo looks like a designer did it. The second logo looks like a designer did it under the instruction of a marketing “expert” who thinks they are a designer. Need I say more?
Initially i was shocked that the first logo was not chosen, as it seems so much more human and endearing than the chosen logo.
Then taking some time to get past that, I realised that the chosen design actually feels more “Russian” to me for some reason.
The reason could be the design and application of the font, which is particularly Bauhaus in its style, and for me automatically makes the chosen logo feel far more Russian than the first design.
The chosen design also feels more structured and technical, which reflects the nature of a sporting event such as the Olympics.
I also agree it’s one of the better Olympic logos that we’ve seen in a while.
I initially thought that the Transformer identity was perfect; however, after reading the brief I have changed my mind. The Interbrand logo perfectly meets the requirement “logo represents a transitory event.” Linking with the Internet was a great concept, as there is nothing more transitory than web content.
Whilst the sochi2014.ru isn’t as visually appealing as the Transformer identity, it is simple, strong and clear in all reproductions. It does visually imply Russia to an international audience, which also would be important to the host country.
Criticism of the first, well, it certainly says “the Olympics.” (It only improves when you lose the Olympic rings; politically, I am sure this was an issue.) But is it obviously Russian? I am not too sure.
The other thing is that is just too enduring. This logo’s life could extend well beyond the event so the best thing to do would be for the Olympic committee to purchase the Transformer Studio identity and use it themselves.
How interesting. Hmmm . . . choose beauty or practicality? No contest in my personal world. The first logo is stunning, and I hope someone gets to use it, albeit altered to suit a new “tenant.”
When I saw the final choice, I was actually shocked. And then I thought . . . well of course, they went backwards. They are not ready to become something new. They are still who they “were” and have been for a century. There is no beauty. It does, however, say “Russia” immediately to me. Not a beautiful Russia, but a totalitarian Russia. Cold. Unhappy. Unemotional. I do hope it is not a portent of things to come. Disappointed does not even come close to my reaction.
Thanks for the exercise. Always interesting and inspiring. Before & After is terrific in my book.
The elements that were pulled together to create the first logo both lyrically and concisely make it my choice for visual appeal and for functionality. Movement, balance and a clear message, no guess work . . . 2014 Olympics identified.
I couldn’t read the second one and had to study it before understanding that it was a combo platter of URL and logo.
But then again, maybe I am too old to “see” it. It is clever, and a digitally raised-eye might not be as confused or confounded as I was when I first looked at it.
Both designs behave well in their various incarnations; the first one is more nostalgic, the second, more 21st century.
I suppose we are targeting tech-savvy snowboarders. Done, and done.
For me, the first logo works. It is lively and has movement and freedom, both in color and in single tone. I believe it signifies Olympics far more than the other logo.
I could not make out what it said; I didn’t see the 2014 as a number at first. It took me awhile, and I feel that although it is smart, it is static and lifeless.
I’m second generation American but have Russian roots on my father’s side. I’m very familiar with the firebird tail imagery from artwork that has been passed down to me, which I love and connect to. I’m disappointed that didn’t win.
The second logo indicates an open venue for the world to come meet the country and its effort to be part of the opportunity to unify with the world through fair sport. The first logo makes the usual stamp of a country that is connected to the old world — nostalgic, but has strings attached to negative ideas, too.
Both logos are genius, but the second one invites the world to come learn about Russia and enjoy the event.
Wow. I guess I’ll have to agree with most of the commenters — Loved the first logo. It looks traditional, warm and inviting, interesting. Made me stop and question what the different pieces were about, etc. But I would agree that the icon is a bit generic (in that it could have worked for other locations), hence the need to add the name underneath it. Which they did, and that works great. People will see it and remember Sochi. I definitely think an Olympics logo should look traditional and have broad appeal — not just appeal to the young who probably can’t afford to attend the Olympics anyway! It would have been a beautiful choice!
The second logo could have worked if it’d been done differently, I think. Does that font really say “modern” to people? I’d agree with the commenter who said it looks like a 1983 video-game font. That’s how I see it — seems like a very dated font to me. But maybe it’s less dated in Russia. The second logo definitely says cold, winter, and Communism — does a great job of saying “Russia” to me, but in a bad way — in the way we thought of Russia back when they were considered the hard enemy of the USA, filled with oppressed people. I did read 2014 okay but then thought it was a mistake and tried to read the second line as a word instead. It just looks confusing. As far as the URL, both sochi.ru and sochi2014.ru work if you type them in, so that’s less of a problem. Confusing though. Do they really want to come across as cold Communists? Maybe, I guess. I like the idea of shaping it like the mountain/sea. I think the second one would need to be redone in a better font with more emphasis on the Olympic aspect and less cold and harsh. And then it could work. Whereas the first logo doesn’t need any changes.
As far as the ice crystals with the second logo — interesting idea, but just makes me think of shattered glass or broken ice. Also, if the logo had worked on its own, it wouldn’t need a whole other shape to go with it. The firsst logo works great on its own.
I thought it was interesting that you asked us to avoid knee-jerk reactions. Actually, I think knee-jerk reactions are really, really important in design. If I’m having a knee-jerk reaction, so will everyone else. But I did give it a lot of thought and will stick with my initial reaction! The first one is a much better logo!
I liked the first logo better than the second, font-based logo.
The first one was warm, meant something, and I got it.
I did not get the second until I read the write-up on it. It leaves me cold, and without the Olympic symbol, I would have though that it was an ad in a magazine or something.
Too bad it gives away an inviting feel to an impersonal touch that tells me I don’t have to watch the games if I don’t want to.
The whole point of the creation of the logo was to prevent Russia from being “a cold and unfriendly country.” The first logo, with its warm and fuzzy attributes, accomplishes that, whereas the selected logo is “cold and unfriendly” with its harsh font. brrrrr.
The Warm Proposal vs The Frozen Chosen.
If Russia wants to move away from being seen as hard and cold, they’re not doing themselves any favors with the choice of the second submission. Its logotype feels cool and impersonal and the supporting graphics, cutting.
There’s a more human connection to the first, which even tech-minded digital youth feel and need — especially at an event that is all about people celebrating people.
Thank you, Before & After, for being interesting and relevant again.
I hate the ice crystals. They say winter, sure, but to me they say the kind of winter where sharp ice shards fall from roofs and cut people. I look at them and feel cold — bitter cold, not the glowing cold of the winter Olympics.
The Olympics are about color and warmth in the midst of winter: a warm torch in the middle of the icy blue, dashes of color in the uniforms of speedskaters and skiers who take the winter and defiantly bring speed and elegance and muscle and warm blood pumping through strong veins to it. The Olympics are about the beauty of humanity, a.k.a. organic matter, not about some web site/digital-culture thing.
I think we do a disservice to the digital generation by thinking everything has to look like it came from a robot for them to like it.
I prefer the first logo, but chances are good it was eliminated for violating IOC brand guidelines.
The same thing happened to Chicago 2016 with our first logo, a torch with the flame becoming the skyline. The IOC ruled it invalid.
“. . . [City logos] shall not contain the Olympic symbol, the Olympic motto, the Olympic flag, or any other Olympic-related imagery [such as] flame, torch, medal, etc.”
So likely, the beautiful flame and ring that make us all remember the Olympic spirit was forced to be remade without any of those signature assets, leaving nothing left.
All that being said, the traditionalist in me says that including a web address in a logo is gauche and will likely not be featured prominently by any of the broadcasters covering the event, who would much rather have people coming to their website instead.
I much prefer the first logo. The Olympics are a historical event, and I like the idea of keeping the theme of the wreath and the colors with a fresh twist but still easily recognizable as a spin on the Olympic symbol. It would be a pity if grumpy monkey is correct and it was shot down because of branding rules.
The second logo is flat-out ugly and difficult to read with a very poor choice of font. The ice shards are less than thrilling.
The first design absolutely rocks. The second logo feels like a typical corporate design where all the strong, creative ideas have been knocked out in committee and what’s left is acceptable and clean but mediocre.
The similarity to Firefox in the first design, if anything, should help the Games feel more current, and Russia could certainly benefit from the creativity, free-spiritedness, and innovation embodied by that association.
The first logo is made up of an endless circle of different colors. It speaks of accepting differences and including them all.
The second log is made up of dominant, discrete, blocky figures that remind me of Ang Lee’s “Hulk.” Perfect for showing the no-nonsense, macho, new Russia.
Personally I prefer the top logo with the firebird-style emblem. The chosen logo does not balance the weight of the text and the Olympic circles. The text is far too heavy for the thin circles and is not easily read. If a text logo was to be used, then the balance of the elements should have been critiqued more with much more development to get the weight of the type and elements correct.
After 92 comments, it appears that the overwhelming favourite is Transformer’s logo (the first one).
But like everything else surrounding the Olympics, this is pure politics.
The logo that “won” didn’t win because it was a better logo. It “won” because it was Interbrand that submitted it.
I’ve been in this business too long and seen this way too often. At least I know it’s happening even at the international level and not just among us slobber-knocking, ground-pounding trench-dwellers.
Upon first read I (1) did not realize the logo was a URL and (2) upon reading and realizing it was a URL thought it was sochi.ru not sochi2014.ru. I hope they also bought sochi.ru for folks like me.
The first logo is the beautiful love child of Russia and the Olympics. The second is just internet reverb.
Aesthetically, the first logo (the one that wasn’t picked) will appeal to most people. It’s very beautiful.
I would also agree, but there are a lot of factors that go into a decision.
I find it amusing that the author of this blog entry doesn’t want to tell us which one he/she likes. It’s quite obvious in the wording.
Here’s my counter argument: The second logo is clearly biased towards digital technology. If indeed the design group that created the second one had a compelling plan for integrating web technologies to bring Russia and the world closer together, that may override some pretty flame feather wreath.
Design is about addressing goals and solving challenges as well. The Olympics is way bigger than aesthetics.
My initial reaction was also disappointment that the first logo wasn’t chosen. It’s warm and has all the Olympic elements.
But, as mentioned, “a host-city logo represents a transitory event and, unlike the Olympic rings, does not need to endure.”
The second logo definitely screams “Sochi.” Which would be the objective of their logo.
It’s not warm and inviting . . . but it is cool and modern. I like the mirror image of hi/14, and I like the crystal pieces on the car, hat, and on the phone. It feels like cold winter.
The Sochi Olympic logo is great. Terrific.
Except for the “snow crystal pattern,” the winning design leaves me unimpressed. I love the losing design for many of the reasons already mentioned. Having said that, this is hardly an unbiased set of opinions — the way you structured the story certainly helped to create the response you’re getting.
One last point — I’m a television guy, so I think in terms of motion graphics. I would be thrilled to animate the first logo. There are so many possibilities. I can’t say that I feel the same way about animating the winner.
Wait a minute . . . I went back and actually read a little of the article. Am I to understand that the flaming, circular, fire logo is not the official symbol, but instead they picked that monstrosity with the URL address? Cruel!
If nothing else, I like the first better, because it teaches us about the host country’s culture.
The reflection doesn’t work in the second because it is too forced. It is functional, but it leaves me cold, like constructivism cold.
The first is like a warm hearth on a cold winter’s day.
I prefer the first because it is tells the story of culture, competition and unity. The firebird feathers work so well as line art in diverse formats that the second’s pragmatic virtues don’t outweigh all the first has to offer.
Quite simply: Typographically, the second logo seems too machined and cold; that impression is reinforced by the cold colors — the warm colors are used only in the rings. The first logo makes greater use of the warm colors from the rings. Not only that, the wreath uses subtle gradients to add depth to the perspective already there. The type in the first is more accessible and easily read. Including the “.ru” could have been done in revision and worked within the logo. Overall, the first logo is more inviting and inclusive; the second is cold and machine-like.
I like them both for different reasons, but I am partial to the Transformer Studio version. It’s classic. Timeless. Stylized. Colorful. Multi-dimensional. Historic. No horz version — did one exist?
Sochi2014.ru: Current. Trendy. Looks very Russian. Did not “see” the 2014; thought it to be a Russian word at first (for quite a while, actually). Definitely exudes a Nordic/icy cold theme. The single color and weight of the lettering overpowers the colorful Olympic rings — a slightly larger point size of the rings would help it do a little more “talking” while still supporting the type w/o competing. Like the white, snow-crystal pattern, but would appreciate its volume dialed down a third if not half.
As I envisioned a switch-out with the logos, putting each in the other’s applications, the Transformer really pops in all applications with its colors, while the subtle blue/outline version is just that — subtle, even in large scale.
I disagree with the “no need to endure” position. Anyone who participates, attends, views and/or supports the Olympics will hold onto this image for quite a while, whether it be through memorabilia, record settings, references, stories, etc. It’s history in the making, thus important that the logo/brand represents its time value well.
The first (Transformer firebird) logo:
– clearly reflects the concept
– is functional
– is beautifully crafted
– is warm, friendly and organic
However, to me, it has a very generic feel. If I didn’t already have the background info, I would be hard-pressed to connect this with either Russia or the Winter Olympics. It also has a timeless quality, which normally would be a highly desirable quality in a logo design — however, in this instance the event is transitory, and as such the logo should reflect the times. For these reasons it doesn’t really work for me.
At first glance I wasn’t sure about the second (Interbrand) logo, but after studying this it would be my preferred choice for this particular event.
I like the functional element of the web address and feel that this is a strong reflection of the present day, but the typographic element as a stand-alone logo is a bit static, and the concept (of the sea meeting the mountains) is not really clearly communicated.
However, my brain does, at some level, visually connect the typeface lettering to the Cyrillic Russian alphabet and also reminds me of past vodka adverts, which I mentally associate with Russia, so without the background info I could have guessed at its origins.
The addition of the crystal pattern to the typographic element is what sells me on this logo. It has a cool, icy feel that says winter and reminds me of the freshness of cold air. It adds vitality and reflects the nature of winters sports.
My knee-jerk reaction was, oh, no, they didn’t . . . they picked the hip, cool, web 2.0 shallow one over the beautiful, breathtaking, timeless one . . . pity the world of design; nobody cares, everyone wants the same as everyone else, and we old-schoolers are a thing of the past.
Then I stopped and just looked, immersed myself in each of the logos, and it suddenly dawned upon me how in incredibly amazing the selected logo is, and how boring and trite (however well designed and well executed) the first logo really is. My initial reaction was reactionary!
I think the selected logo is amazing on so many levels. It’s not “pretty” or beautiful, but I think it’s incredibly appropriate. It’s also not just the cool, hip and web 2.0 selection I first associated it as — but rather, it’s clever, smart, intelligent, fun and playful — and actually starting to look beautiful to me — not what I initially expected I would ever say. It find it interesting and that it carries meaning with deeper layers of meaning not immediately obvious, there for discovery. I also enjoy how much the logo comes alive in its surroundings.
The logo explores a tension between old and new very well, and is very timely — not only illustrating the internal Russian balance between the past and the future, showing us what and where they have been and what they can be, but it’s also symbolic of our times and the shift going on in graphic design. And, really important for an Olympic logo — it’s very location specific.
I also think the logo dates itself — but in a good way. An Olympic game logo’s purpose is to promote an Olympic game, in a certain location, at a certain time. The rings are timeless; the other stuff is not.
The first (not selected) logo is timeless in a manner that, in my opinion, makes it a poor choice for an Olympic game, whereas the selected sochi2014.ru logo really hits the mark.
Thank you for making me stop and reflect, to challenge myself.
Admittedly, the first logo is really beautiful and very symbolic.
Upon reflection, I realized why the second logo got chosen — because they want to convey to all that the Olympics are a live event, and they are global. The fact that the Internet is available to all nowadays adds to its appeal.
For me, I like the second logo, because of its originality.
As a freelance professional specialized in logo design, I prefer the first one — it’s much more designed than the second logo, which is only based on a font and not so pretty. Identity is important, and I am sure it is not the good choice.
I love the firebird logo — it really tugs at your emotions — uplifting, aspiring, winning. However, to me it doesn’t say Russia, and it doesn’t say winter. Maybe it’s a case of the designers being too close to their own culture. If you saw that logo without knowing it’s for the winter games in Russia, you’d be none the wiser.
The Interbrand logo very definitely says winter, and there’s something about the typeface used that has a “Russian” feel to it — remember all those posters to inspire Russian workers in the early days of Soviet republics.
So, the Interbrand logo does the job of “placing” the event in the viewer’s mind, which is probably what the brief was.
The firebird is much prettier, though!
I am a designer from Russia, and I can say that it’s quite in our tradition to use heavy brick, cut-out forms (remember Russian avant-garde of the 20th century beginning, our famous posters of the World War time, and socialist realism as the leading trend of design and art). So no wonder that in the majority of comments here the second logotype is the embodiment of “cold and unfriendly Russia.” But I absolutely agree with the opinion that it is all politics. I would add that it’s definitely money that “has prepared” such choice between these logotypes, but not their visual comparison. Many decisions in our country are taken not in favor of the best, but of those who pay.
This can explain why the first logotype didn’t win, though for me it is better indeed.
The second one is not balanced; the left part is much heavier and has little correspondence with the right part despite of rounded corners.
Of course, the first logo speaks to me more than the actual chosen one, although I find it cool to integrate a web address into a logo. But then you have to do it right — the 2014 was lost on me completely until I read some of the comments.
The colors and the symbolism of the first logo tell a story; the second logo is just cold. Nevertheless, I’d prefer a landscape-shaped logo over a portrait one. So both have their goods and bads. Maybe the web address could have been included in the first logo, like in “mix it” and “fix it.” Too late for that now. Both logos have their fans, and as a designer you can never please everybody.
From an aesthetics perspective, the first logo is definitely pretty and appealing. Like many of the Olympic logos. It would look great on a pin, like many of the Olympic logos. It has a great story behind it, like many of the Olympic logos. But, like many of the Olympic logos, you don’t get that context or story to explain the logo, and to the average person, all the ideology and myth will be lost, and it’s just a pretty picture. The second logo, while sparse, is a real call to action. It’s not just saying, “Hey, it’s the Olympics,” but it’s saying, “Hey, it’s the Olympics, and you can log on to this site to learn more about it.”
The first one is beautiful in a graceful, dainty sort of way . . . but the second one for me says “Russia” — in re-emergence. A nation that respects strength above all. Churchill presented a ceremonial sword to Stalin to honor the “steel-hearted citizens of Stalingrad.” To me, the second logo evokes that spirit. The typeface is reminiscent of the Russian revolutionary and wartime posters — a simple, strong, bold appeal to the Russian heart. That seems totally appropriate — though, I must confess, a little scary.
I much prefer to first, Russian logo design. It has movement and life and feels more organic while borrowing from the traditional Olympic logos of the past. The second logo feels stiff and overwhelmingly corporate. It has no life and color like the first logo!
The presentation of the logo concepts was not uniform, and it is my belief that the way in which they were presented betrays the author’s preference.
As far as classic logo design goes, the firebird design is both brilliant and beautiful. It takes five complex ideas and distills them into a single, simple, elegant graphic. That is the true essence of logo design.
The sochi2014 .ru logo is a novel concept in Olympic logo design. I love the font used and the font-play between the words “sochi” and the numbers in “2014.” I was also slightly disappointed by this, however, because a small part of me wanted to discover that sochi 2014 had been made into an ambigram. This logo also falls short in a couple important areas. Firstly, it does not read the way it was intended. It reads as sochi.ru 2014. While this shortcoming may be countered by massive marketing campaigns, it is a big misstep nonetheless. If the majority of the design concept is based on pulling in the online generation with a URL logo, that URL should be extremely clear within the logo. Placing the “.ru” on the bottom line next to “2014” may have been a better solution and would have provided the logo’s text block with a better visual balance as well.
In the end, what is important to me is not whether or not the logo I like was chosen. I appreciate the approach taken with the sochi2014.ru logo, but believe it would have been a much better selection after one or two more revisions to tighten up its balance and legibility.
I like both of these, and I even actually prefer the second, ice-crystal design, but I agree with most of the other commenters that the first design is more appropriate as a logo. The ice-crystal design may be a bit before its time in its versatility. The individual elements that make up the total form may be distinctive when grouped together, but even then, they seem like just an elaborate decoration rather than a representation of something else. The leaf/flame ring is just as useful and almost as decorative, I think. I understand the change, but I think it’s a bit too progressive right now.
I think both logos are beautiful. They contain all elements that are required of an Olympic logo, but in an appealing and modern way. I think the imagery accompanying the second logo (the triangular ice-bricks) conveys the idea of winter Olympics well.
I adore the coloured Olympic logo with feathers. Absolute genius!
The colors and rings of the first logo are beautiful, but when paired with the other Olympic logo, they become overkill.
The second logo has flaws, but may succeed in driving more viewers to the event.
I am surprised by reading the majority of the comments. I like the second one better for sure. There are a few things that bug me a bit, like the “4” in 2014, but I like the way it looks on the guy’s jacket, and it’s simple and not like the very trendy logos/elements you are seeing today, like logo #1. The first logo is the same as everything else out there today. That gradient color circle that acts as depth. (Obama logo, etc.). The second is different, simple, elegant, still modern and works. I also don’t like the rings in the first one, just stuck on the bottom.
LOVE the first logo for many of the reasons already spelled out in other comments. It really is beautiful and conveys the “Olympic feeling” I get when watching the games.
The chosen logo is just plain cold and commercial. Very bad decision!
I choose the second one. The first is indeed beautiful and dramatic, but the second one is clever, icy, and wired. I think icy is appropriate for the Winter Games, and it promises (it had better deliver) an integrated, cutting-edge internet experience.
“Huh?!?” was my first reaction to the selected sochi2014.ru logo. It’s so cold and distancing — perhaps that’s what they wanted since it is a Winter Games and they’re trying to appeal to a younger, digital audience, but it left me cold. There’s no life to it. The artistic justifications [ex.: Its (semi-)mirrored typography is intended to represent Sochi’s location on the Black Sea] to me do not hold water — no one will see that in the logo, and that justification seems tacked on. The official Olympic five-rings symbol is a non-integrated afterthought. The sochi2014.ru logo, however, is bold and works better in application than I thought it would, and the font has a nice, Russian feel to it. But the fact that they also needed a secondary element — the random blue and purple snow crystals — to add interest on clothing, vehicles, etc., shows that this design is fundamentally limited and blah. It is certainly better than the London 2012 logo, but only because that logo is so atrocious.
That being said, I prefer the Transformer firebird logo. It has so much more life, passion, vigor — through both shape and color — that exemplifies much of what the Olympics are about. It incorporates the Olympic rings and colors much better. It is inspiring compared to the selected logo — if I were an athlete at these games, I’d much rather compete with the Transformer firebird logo. And design-wise, I like how a portion of the logo can be used as an abstract design element (ex.: the hot air balloon photo). It integrates the themes and history of the Olympics much better. That all being said, I can’t say that the firebird logo is especially memorable. However, it is a massive improvement over the selected logo.
Not a fan of the second. I find url’s in logos tacky, and the design element of the ice looks like a bag of Doritos.
Between the two logos, aesthetically I love logo #1. The handling is more in the traditional spirit of the Olympics. At the same time, for branding purposes, if the need to reach a younger demographic outweighs both aesthetics and tradition, then logo #1 is not the way to go. Logo #2 has the feel of a logotype we’d see used on some stylized sci-fi video-game packaging. It also has a flavor to it that connects with the typography and aesthetics of the X Games — the same 12-34-year-old target demographic the organizers are hoping to attract with the hopes of securing the continued popularity of the Olympic games. The typeface for logo #2 also makes it very malleable as a great container for other media, whereas logo #1 was better suited for being superimposed on other images. Last but not least, logo #2 is also very disposable for its place in time, sort of like spaceships, flying cars and other cinematic renditions of the year 2000 back in the 1950s and ’60s — making it easier to reinvent the brand instead of dealing with a public that is resistant to the change.
Both designs are compelling in their own way. The circular one is friendlier and has a beauty about it. It is warm and pleasing with movement. I don’t know how much “winter” is conveyed however, and it probably represents culture better than sport.
The chosen design is more industrial and modern, with clever reflection shapes and clear, sharp lines. The ice shards are similarly angular and crisp. It may have a better execution relating to the speed and crisp feel of winter games, but it may not address the design brief of making things look warm and friendly.
An (unintended, I hope) byproduct of the selected design, when projected to a Westerner looking at Russia for the first time in a long time, makes me think more of the stereotype socialist monolithic design of the worker and bold, strong lettering, etc.
By selecting a URL as a logo, you not only portray an embracing of the web as your primary means of communication but also make that medium the personality of the games. I would hazard to guess that Russia might not be a country that defines itself as an internet-focused place. How many Russians have access to reliable, high-speed internet, and what proportion of web pages and information are in the Russian language? Maybe we’ll find out soon!
I used to work as a graphic designer in Whistler, and still do work for winter-sport clients there, including VANOC/Whistler Olympic Park, where the Nordic events will be held in a few weeks! So I’ve had to wrangle with usage of the 2010 design elements for the last couple of years.
Both the 2014 designs in discussion are effective, in their own way, and the selection of one over the other may give us a window into the “feel” of the games — bold, young, modern, technical and “take a look at me.”
Further comment: Many commenters read the Transformer “creative brief” and thought it was the client’s brief to all designers. It’s not; it’s Transformer’s justification for their design. Interbrand approached this challenge from a completely different angle, and with a closer eye on the city, as opposed to the entire country.
My first reaction, like many others, was to favor the first one. It’s colorful, traditional in the sense of color, represents a side of Russia the world does not normally see, as well as a symbol of the Olympics (laureate wreath). I do like the second also; I almost want to say that it fits more with the “cold, unfriendly” view of Russia most of us have! I mean, I look at the type and find myself thinking of it as a softer, more modern version of old-school Soviet propaganda type.
The second logo also seems to have more versatility, like you could change it up every time and it’d still retain its integrity.
I still like the first one, mostly because it has so much symbolism behind it. But I agree with what was said earlier on all the meaning behind the symbolism getting lost on most viewers . . .
I guess either way, that’s what was picked, and either one is massively better than the London 2012 one XD
It works, in every way. So much better than our [London’s] terrible logo that even with its conceptual explanation leaves you feeling “why?!” and, “as a designer, I’m so ashamed that this is our logo . . .”
Simply………….the first one wins me over big time……………..the second is un-inspirational.
Visually, the first one has answered the brief on all levels . . . what I like about it the most is the warmness and its symbolic unity……………….the second is cold and uninviting.
What were they thinking?
I actually felt sad that the first logo was not picked! The emotional connection is completely absent from the second design. It’s fractured and hard and doesn’t speak of the unity implied in the Olympics. The typography is meaningless and appropo of nothing. That said, I prefer it to London’s logo. I hope they didn’t pay a lot for it! If they’re not using logo #1, may I have it? : )
I completely disagree with the statement “Keep in mind that a host-city logo represents a transitory event and, unlike the Olympic rings, does not need to endure.”
Although the majority of people come and go only to forget the event and logo, the city itself will surely pride itself on hosting the Olympics and will likely hold onto the branding of it for decades to come.
Like lots of other posts, I agree that the first is warmer, more inviting. There is an actual story behind it. The second looks trendy and a little cheap. It is hard to read, and I also agree that putting a url in a logo is tacky.
One thing no one else commented on, though, is how well either logo will stand up visually in 2014. That is a long way from now, and despite the fact that I really like the first one, it might look dated in 2014.
Unlike most posters, I like the second one much better. In the first place, in spite of the “story” behind the first logo, I wouldn’t know the story if you hadn’t told it. The feathers, etc., would be a complete mystery. And, like a previous poster, the first logo made me wonder if Firefox was a big sponsor.
I like the mirrored typography in the second example very much, and I had no problem “figuring out” the story behind this logo. I agree with the other posters who thought this was strong, modern and wintry.
The first logo seems to me to be in line with past Olympic logos . . . The second one is more in line with what was done for London 2012 perhaps?
I think it is important as designers that we don’t just go where we’ve gone before — even if it produces a good-looking solution — as Transformer have done here (I agree it is a nice logo), but we need to move on, push the boundaries a bit . . .
I therefore prefer the second logo!
I’m from the younger generation, and let me tell you this:
The second logo does nothing for me. It speaks of easy design without much courage. The first logo is beautiful and warm. The second is just too bland, especially for something as dramatic as the Olympics. Younger kids like color, and flow, and slight gradients. Sorry, even after deliberating, I just can’t even begin to like the second one.
Not to mention that the ice-crystal pattern feels VERY unfinished. No push at all. Yawn.
If they want to announce that the old, cold, and gray Soviet Union is back, they’ve made the right choice.
Otherwise . . . wow . . . what a mistake.
I like each design for specific reasons, but to represent the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the second wordmark is more successful. That isn’t to say that the first design isn’t beautiful, but it is far more successful at representing the Olympics as a whole, the enduring legacy (and concept) of competitive athletics and athletes.
“Keep in mind that a host-city logo represents a transitory event and, unlike the Olympic rings, does not need to endure.” Considering that statement, I find it easy to appreciate the elements of the second design that say Russia (and winter): colour (cool, ice blue), hard- and round-edged typography that hints at the Cyrillic language . . . even the right justification and reflective interplay of words provides a friendliness and coldness that say Russia. The URL is a bonus.
If I had been asked my opinion without mulling things over, the first design would have garnered my vote hands down, but now . . . I appreciate what the second design communicates more and more.
The first one has internal and external force, speed, balance, and strength, which fulfills the Olympic spirit. But the second one is more static, rigid. I didn’t find any sport spirit in it. As a designer, I must do something that has a feel-good factor as well as to the viewers.
I thought the first design was one of the best Olympic logos I’d seen in years. Not only does it combine all the requested elements, but it has a vibrancy missing in many previous logos. Perhaps it’s my background, but I immediately got both the fire and the feather (and the combination: firebird, aka Russia). Even without “Sochi” or the rings, it’s alluring.
The second one, though . . . It looks (essentially) like a logotype for an up-and-coming-but-not-there-yet snowboard-wear company with the Olympic rings added as an afterthought. It’s difficult to read and has no emotional appeal. And what’s with the “ice crystals”? Are they part of the design or just a bit of frosting (pun intended) on the cake?
If I were buying a tee shirt, the Transformer logo would be my pick. The use of color, the circular shape mirroring the Olympic rings, and the fire/feathers combination are visually interesting and beautiful. However, it doesn’t say “winter” to me. The Interbrand logo is very cold and very techno. Turning the logo into a web address and the mirrored hi-14 are gimmicky. But the use of a single-color blue, combined with the snow-crystal pattern, works very well and leaves no doubt that these are the winter games. I think they made the right choice.
O.K. John, we’ve put our comments out there. Our thoughts, rants and raves. Now, we’d like to hear your commentary on the choice of logos please.
I love the first choice. Brilliant. Wish I had conceived it. My gut reaction to the second was physically wrenching . . . why? Both make a statement. But the first logo is poetry; the second is commercial branding. If I had my choice, I would lobby for the beauty and the depth of feelings expressed by the choice of colors and fluidity of version 1.
I vote for first one, because for first time seeing it, I like the beautiful shape and freedom dancing style, just like the people celebrate for the united world.
Second logo it works for corporate view. But actually I can’t see 2014, looks like ZOI4.
The first one is nice; I can associated it to something powered and connected. It’s really not a modern brand, but nice! The second makes me confused, because it looks like it’s broken. The 2014 is a little bit hard to read and understand that it’s part of the first word. Thanks.
I like the second logo and here is why:
1. It’s modern
2. It’s interactive
3. It’s cold
4. It’s futuristic
5. It’s reaching the target market because it’s interactive and mobile. The generation that will be attending or even in the 2014 games will be so tech-driven that if the first logo was used, it would’ve had to be redone anyway just to keep up with what will be the “cool,” next hot wave coming down the pike, because it’s warm and fuzzy.
I think a “creative” walked by the room while this debate was going on and stuck their head in the door and saw the first logo and said . . . you guys do know that the games are in the future, right? . . . so why not take the logo there, too? . . .
Second logo hands down. I can see dancing triangles in lights in a dome, on and in the ice. Agree with modern, cold and mobile — which also describe Russia. Also, it tells you all you need to know — where in the world and on the www.
First logo looks like a Firefox rip-off and trite.
The second logo makes the assumption that the entire world is literate to understand the Roman-script characters. This in an age and century when a culturally plural world is moving us all back to the hieroglyph and the ideagram. This logo also assumes that all parties interested in the Olympics know and have access to the internet. Even worse, if they have low-bandwidth access, then they must all be literate to read the web; if non-literate, then they must all have high-speed internet access to watch videos and listen to audio streams. The second logo makes me feel the chill of a Siberian winter.
The first logo, though aesthetic and beautiful, could be used for any product, brand, or service; hence, there’s some merit in rejecting it, too. A third option that unequivocally conjures Olympics, sports, athletics, games, as well, is required.
My reaction was that the logo didn’t address the design brief at all. In fact, it seems to promote the idea that Russia is cold and unfriendly. The 2014 said “zoiy” to me until I read the comments; so it introduced pointless ambiguity.
But I’m 57. I can see the logo may promote the upscale digitization of “friendly” and Russia’s willingness to join the new world order. Tough decision, but a good one.
Am I the only one out there who thinks the logo they chose is totally cool? Besides the integrated web address, I like the mirroring effect, plus the fact that the 4 looks like the letter for the “ch” sound in Russian (which looks like a “y”), which reflects the “ch” sound in Sochi. I love the retro feel of it. And having lived in Russia for two years recently, I can confirm that this DOES represent Russia quite well. If they were going for the firebird-type, fairy-tale, fantasy Russia, the first one could have worked, but the colors are all wrong. Primary colors are just not something you see in day-to-day Russian life. The idea of fairy-tale Russia with the flames, etc., might work if the colors were darker — burgundy instead of red, pine instead of green, navy instead of blue, etc. And primary colors are much more representative of the Summer Olympics — sunshine, water instead of snow, bright uniforms, etc. I also dislike, as one other comment mentioned, the fact that it looks like the Mozilla Firefox logo. Yes it’s pretty, but it’s exactly what everyone has gone for in the age of the internet — something familiar, something safe. Compare it to the logos of the last 20 years — in particular the logos of Atlanta, Nagano and Sydney. They all do that flames/streaks/abstract-shapes-in-the-color-of-the-rings thing. Not to mention, scroll down this page and you’ll see the first logo’s font (or very, very similar fonts) all over the place. Boooring. The logo Sochi chose is DIFFERENT. It’s a great representation of Russia — signs in Russia very often use fonts that look like stencils, which this reflects. The ’80s are very big in Russia right now — everyone’s wearing skin-tight pants and flowing mullets. Russia IS dark and cold. And, it is pushing ahead with technology lately — so this logo’s integration of a website is brilliant. Love it, love it, love it. I’m glad they’re thinking outside the box. And for the guy who said, “maybe I’m too old to get this, ’cause I’m 30,” I’m 30 too, and I don’t consider myself old.
And to Niyam, with your note about assuming the entire world is literate enough for this logo: they ARE. Having traveled to a lot of the world while speaking only English (and a pinch of Russian), I can personally testify that almost everyone out there can at least recognize English letters. Of course, not everyone has internet, but I have major doubts that many people wouldn’t be able to read this. For those with internet, don’t forget that until a couple of months ago, all internet addresses were in Latin letters. And look no further than the fact that RUSSIA is using a logo with English on it as proof that English is everyone. Russians are VERY proud of their language, so their willingness to use Latin letters is certainly proof of how common they are, worldwide. Notice on the above-mentioned website that, previously, Russia was the only Olympic host EVER to not use English letters in their logo. The fact that they’ve come around is all the proof you need of how ubiquitous English is.
After more scouring of the web site with the older Olympic logos, I see even more why I find the first logo so boring. Even if it didn’t use primary colors or that exact font, almost every single Olympic logo of the last 25 years is a colorful image on top of a boring font saying the name of the city on top of the rings. Is this really all the better we could do for the last 25 years? Apparently so, if all these design experts are so sad about not having the exact same thing again! Snap out of it, people! :-D
Again, the whole paradox of design is that to be able to determine what “good” design is, one must set a context. Is it good because it sells? Is it good because it’s pretty? Is it good because it has recognizably followed visual “rules” or “laws”? If one were to reduce it to a most basic goal, what would that goal be? Once, it was said that a logo was only as good as its success in being associated with a brand or entity. Most of the reasons we make context and visual decisions based on research, experience and “laws” are actually transparent to most people who see our designs. So, I wonder, does this type of analysis fall into the category of an “amusing design intellectual exercise,” since, in the end, the logo that will win, will win because there was a mix of the ability to sell with how the decision maker felt this morning? Don’t get me wrong; I am all for allowing Gestalt take us by the hand in the process of solving visual problems. And I am totally aware of, and all for knowing, that the beauty of our job is that fact — the fact that we know enough about how perception works to insert beautiful, subtle (or not-so-subtle) visual items into our final solutions that are, on one end, transparent to the viewer, and on the other a very effective tool to activate unconscious reactions in them. So, after all this, I probably should thank you for reading this far. I should not expect it, since, after all, I am almost off-subject. But I can’t simplify a choice without setting a context. So, with the reality hitting us in the head again, that an “obvious” choice does not necessarily make the cut, how does one make a choice? Well, at first glance, aesthetically the fire logo seems like the choice. And it is pretty much because of association — what has happened visually in the past makes us “feel” like it is a more appropriate solution. If we think back, recent logos for games in other countries do take into account the symbolism and heritage of the host country. And we all can dig that. The winning logo can be associated faster with an electronics company if it did not have the rings. But, again, what makes either one better or worse? Nothing. I think they both could have used a little tweaking to make them more fluid and accomplish better visual closure. How well will it represent and naturally be associated with the games it represents? Well, we won’t know for a while. And a lot of it will have to do with what happens with the complementing design around it. Which design style do I prefer? The winning logo. Which design I would wear? The fire logo. And so on . . .
Erin, You make very good points, especially that this represents winter Olympics, not summer, and integrating to the web. I recall Obama was a hit w/young generation utilizing text messaging. In future years, we’ll look back and see that Russia made a definitive statement about our time. I now see its relevance.
I can see why both designs made it down to the final two.
The first design symbolizes everything about the Olympic games: colour, beauty, harmony and the pursuit of the ring (medal). It’s really a gorgeous design, one of the better ones I’ve seen for the Summer or Winter Olympic games. No doubt anything with this logo will sell lots.
The second design is pure business. It’s all about branding, identity, very modern yet very simplistic. From a corporate point of view it works, because it’s all about the advertising of the games and getting the viewer to instantly connect the logo with the mere mention of an Olympic winter sport. It’s not a harsh or cold design as much as it’s just unmistakably a bold way of announcing to the world this is the Sochi games.
Personally, I’ve been to two Olympic games (1994 in Lillehammer, Norway and 1996 in Atlanta), so I’ve seen both sides of what the Olympic logos can stand for. Lillehammer’s logo was simple, crisp and very Nordic, where the Atlanta logo was very American and corporate. That’s not to say both didn’t represent these respective games very well (they did), but they were polar opposites.
I like the first one, though, because the games are all about energy, color, and overall they should embody the Olympic spirit for which they exist in the first place. The first one really captures this (I think, anyway), and the symbolic ring of feathers perfects it.
We’re all forgetting or maybe underestimating that youth will prefer the second logo over the first one. I wouldn’t be so sure about this, though. The bright colours in the feather will most likely appeal to them more than the corporate look of the second one, but hey, that’s just my opinion.
After much mulling, I like the second logo. It is futuristic, young, and it incorporates a lot of design elements into an integrated look.
It does work in a variety of colors, negatives, etc. — very flexible with little loss of recognition of the core design. The feather ring doesn’t seem to have that same strength of identity without the addition of Sochi 2014 and the Olympic rings below it.
And I like the crystals, too. When I look at the sample applications of the logo — the coat, the car, the helmet, the phone screen, the website — they all work, and I don’t see cold, rigid, Soviet Union-ish in any of it. I see forward-thinking, energetic, fun and fresh.
Yep, the web address thing is a little confusing — is it sochi.ru or sochi2014.ru? — but I got it after a couple of looks.
And would I buy something with this logo? Definitely — where can I get that coat?
I immediately found the first logo enticing. Though I would agree that the choice of colors connotates summer more than winter, the primary colors echo those of the rings. I really like the blue and white crystals of the second logo, but I hate the main portion of it. It is cold and impersonal and, worst of all, I find it hard to read, particularly the year. One of the things I learned from Before & After is that good graphic design communicates, first and foremost. If I can’t read the logo, it doesn’t communicate.
The winner goes fine with anything regular designers can do. It’s made to do so. The one with feathers didn’t work for me as an average guy.
I prefer the first design, which is by “Transformer Studio.” I like the way designer expresses multiple aspects in one logo. It’s more energetic and appealing to the viewers. Hence, communicates with readers about designer’s abilities to create so effectively.
With the world in turmoil, it’s refreshing to see a design like No. 1. The designer has managed to reach beyond negative influences and create a mark that embodies the spirit of individuality and freedom of the Olympics.
Regarding the chosen logo, my personal opinions are:
• It’s rather visually boring in comparison to the Transformer submission.
– the Transformer one has movement
– is “alive”
• Poor distinction between the numbers and letters in the font.
• Makes me think of Cold War communist propaganda posters.
• Don’t care for the gradient triangles.
• I will say the chosen logo does convey the idea of Winter Games a little better than the Transformer version.
Both are dynamic, but the ice-crystal second one lacks the impact that color brings, and looks like things are falling apart. Maybe if they’d been snowflakes instead of triangles, it would have helped . . . Yet the first logo completes the circle and looks whole and tied together.
I’ve disliked the final one ever since I first saw it. I’ve warmed up to it a little since then, but I still prefer the competitor.
To me, the final design screams 1991, especially the typeface. It lacks a truly distinctive logo-type element. If the mirroring was supposed to be the defining element, they should have made it far better. They could have done with text what the Chicago 2016 bid logo did with shapes and made a really iconic logo.
It’s not bad. It just lacks immediate appeal.
Both logos are well crafted, but by far the first logo represents a more complete picture of Russia. Its deep cultural history, beautiful artistic crafts, the passion of its people, their love of the Olympic games and the spirit of competition are all embodied in the first logo.
The second logo with its website embedded for those who need the extra guidance causes me to think of the Russian geek who sits behind the computer playing Tetris — a very limited picture of Russia. In fact, the second logo could easily represent a Russian tech conference or online gamers convention.
The whole concept of mirroring the lake is a myopic mistake when considering the first logo more aptly mirrors the Russian culture and its connection to the Olympics.
Are we missing the easiest sell to the web/phone generation:
.ru => .ru coming?
The world’s shortest invitation :-)
Most people are warm and fuzzy about the first logo because they read the backstory on what the elements mean. Without it . . . it’s just a multicoloured ring of fire/feathers.
Modern attention span does not allow for this “heart-warming” tale to be told, and there is nothing within its design that encourages people to find out more.
It is almost too clever — something that we as designers must learn to curtail.
Like a joke, if you have to explain it, it didn’t work.
The winning design, although to me not aesthetically appealing, conveys much more information in the first glance than you might expect.
For instance, Sochi is in Russia. Would anyone even know that from the first logo? All too often we assume the viewer has knowledge, but in this case how much does the wider world even know about Russia?
As for the crystals, I think they are genius. This one design element is so incredibly flexible, and if used correctly, it can create an association with the logo and the event that can be used literally anywhere.
Anyway, these are my thoughts. Not conventional I know, but convention is what holds us back at times.
I won’t make comments on the beauty of both logos. It’s subjective, and everybody can decide for themselves which one is more appealing.
The question is what each logo says — because they were designed and chosen not on the grounds of their beauty, but because of the message they are meant to convey.
Transformer’s logo is colourful, vibrant, very humane. It says a lot about Russia and the people living there. Besides, it insightfully incorporates Olympic symbols and colours with the spirit of Russia. I think it was made for the public. And that’s where Transformer were wrong.
The Interbrand logo is at the other end of the spectrum (again, not in terms of beauty). Predominant colour is cold, and its letters are heavy and un-human (though I wouldn’t say they look digital). Olympic symbol is belittled. That’s a logo that loudly says INSTITUTION. The accent is not on the event, nor is it on the gathering of people or even on Russia as a host. The accent is on the Russian state. It says SIZE is MIGHT. Let’s not forget who gets to choose it, after all. Interbrand knew their customer.
Logo number one (Transformer Studio). It works with the Olympic rings — the rings are the foundation of the spirited, culturally significant logo. I love it in reverse white. This is so important when incorporating the logo into the uniforms of such a vast array of countries and their national colours. Its vitality and grace offer an impact vastly different from the Interbrand submission.
I feel the Interbrand choice of a heavy typeface overpowers and suffocates the Olympic rings. I simply cannot relate the heavy-equipment typeface with the grace and finesse — the movement — of winter sport. It took me a long time to recognize that “2014” was not a misspelled reflection of Sochi. I supposed I anticipated an icy reflection, being that the logo was of an Olympic winter games theme. I do like the ice crystals — but not the equilateral triangles (I know they work with the industrial typeface). Ice crystals and frost played a significant role in the Vancouver Olympic media coverage — they provided a classy, relevant, neutral and non-country-specific backdrop for scores and news. I would have been embarrassed if everything had been overpowering red and white at Vancouver 2010. Instead, a pallet of blues, greens and white were offered . . . I guess that’s one of my major issues with the Interbrand logo. It lacks the sensitivity required of a good host. The Transformer Studio may have used feathers — but the Interbrand logo is the one that comes off as the overpowering peacock. It lacks cultural significance and grace and hugely misses the youth target, in my opinion. I can’t imagine grade-school children relating to the Interbrand logo as inspiration. My home is currently littered with child-scrawled paper flags mounted on straws that feature the Vancouver 2010 Inukshuk (stone-man) and the Olympic rings. Now a firebird feather and fire — that is something youth can relate to and recreate, with the added beauty of being culturally significant. What an opportunity to portray cultural pride to the world and foster it in the next generation of Olympic candidates. I can’t help but take it further and imagine a proud Russian audience waving firebird feathers in red, green, blue, and yellow, and their honoured guests bringing home the same feathers as a beautiful, relevant souvenir of time spent in Russia.
What a loss.
It would have been more fun in Cyrillic script and no less incomprehensible. Shame telephones and faxes have numbers rather than letters or we would have had imagination-free logos like this sooner. I seem to recall from my infancy that Margaret Thatcher used to be photographed with something similar to the runner-up’s swirling flames, so not all of its associations are positive.
Yes, we are in the art arena. Logos are the expression of our artistic side, but art must be subordinated to the message.
Is the message: Young Russians, come to Sochi?
(Big bucks are not in the event.)
Or is it: World, remember Russia and come some time soon?
(Big bucks are in TV viewers and future tourism.)
Money is the name of the game, including the Olympic games.
Take your pick.
The second logo will look great on a tank!
Leave it to social media to drive every design. I clearly like the first, as it embodies the origin of the Olympics with the wreath-like colorful leaves/flames. I think your examples showed how well it worked. It would have been my preference had they asked me. The actual logo is a bit too drab and needs some tweaking. I do appreciate the use of the hi and 14 in reflection. That was clever. It is a bit busy with two bold fonts and open font, and let’s squeeze in the rings, shall we?
I can appreciate both designs. My pick would be the first one. I like everything about it.
The second one I have a few problems with. The font is hard to read; it took me awhile to figure out the year 2014. Probably the biggest complaint I would have is the way that it is grouped together; it makes me think the url is sochi.ru and not sochi2014.ru. I feel the rings were thrown in there as an afterthought, but in this case it seems to work. I like that it has separate graphic elements (crystals); I think that was very creative.
I learnt many years ago that it’s not so wise to be critical of another designer’s work until you fully understand the budget and client constraints they may have been placed under. Many times it’s these things that have a major bearing on the finished result. And many times the designer would actually agree with some aspects of your negative critique. It’s good to have a considered opinion on others’ work but kind of futile without first knowing the full story.
Rex, it’s not about the designer, it’s about the client who picks this design. Because from the first logo, it’s clear that the designer knows what he’s doing. It’s the client who decided to go “digital” and make this horrendous thing called logo.
I think the second one is better for winter Olympics.
The first logo has good meaning and better-visual looking. But I think it’s not for winter Olympic logo, and it’s too warmy. Second one may be simple and boring, but after I saw its website, its fits good.
I read very carefully everyone’s point of view here, and I agree with all of them!
I have to say the first logo came out and this line jumps to mind, “Oh no, not again . . . the ring, the five colors . . .”, and then I saw how it is used in different scenes, especially on the balloon, and I start to feel the energy of the color and the organic shapes are powerful.
Then I saw the second logo. My first impression is, “Cool!” It is different and suits for a winter theme. But after awhile I felt it was just like a vodka advertisement (I mean, if you don’t read it closely).
And I start to think about the marketing: What are the differences between those who actually go there and those who only see it online or on TV (like me)?
Personally, I like the first one, but for marketing I can understand why they chose the second one. Why not give it a try!