POSTED BY: Gary Gleeson

FIFA World Cup – Serious about design

11th Jul, 2018

FIFA World Cup – Serious about design

If you were ever in doubt what a behemoth the World Cup is from a branding point of view have a browse through the website. Under the marketing section there are pages and pages about protecting the brand, the do’s and don’ts and how important it is to safeguard their brand. Fifa’s Brand Protection

As FIFA is proud to inform us, “The FIFA World Cup™ is the world’s largest single sporting event reaching people all over the world. Key brand assets such as the FIFA World Cup Trophy and the Official Emblem are universally known and the great value they represent is the cornerstone of FIFA’s commercial programme.

Therefore, investing time and resources to protect the brand is of paramount importance to FIFA in order to secure the revenue streams which fund FIFA’s football and social development initiatives as well as its men’s, women’s and youth competitions.” Not to mention, of course, that the projections for the 2018 event are around $5.6 billion. With each broadcast deal and ticket sale that the logo appears on it truly makes the World Cup brand one worth investing in.


Held in Russia for the first time, this year’s World Cup is out of this world (see below). The logo was inspired by Russia’s artistic tradition, history of innovation, and above all, its pioneering in space. FIFA introduced the official emblem through a countdown from Russia’s International Space Station in 2014 and a projection mapping show on the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow! Not your normal drinks and canapes in your local hotel launch.

The shape of the logo takes the universally recognisable outline of the World Cup Trophy and incorporates bold shades of red, gold, black and blue that are often seen in Russian art. The design also evokes a Fabergé egg, the Red Square’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and Sputnik. All in all, not bad considering all the symbols incorporated in it.

It does beg the question – how do you get such a gig? The logistics of creating a global brand like the World Cup must be immense and so the number of companies able to take on such a task are limited. Few if any would have the experience. Anyway it must be a lucrative job as the Portuguese company that designed it has rebranded as Brandia Global and are planning to have an IPO on the London stock exchange later this year!

They won a creative pitch involving eight Russian and international design agencies which were adjudicated by a judging panel of ten figures from sport, culture and government in Russia.

‘The selection of the final design proposal for the official emblem was made by a judging panel composed of ten high-profile members from diverse backgrounds, comprising Vitaly Mutko, Jerome Valcke and experts from the worlds of sport, culture and government in Russia, namely Igor Shuvalov, Alexey Sorokin, Fabio Capello, Igor Akinfeev, Oleg Dobrodeev, Denis Matsuev, Valery Gergiev and Chulpan Khamatova.’

Sounds like design by committee to me and how is Fabio Capello in the mix?

Amazingly it wasn’t until the 2002 world cup that FIFA really took control of their brand – getting inspiration from the NBA and the Olympics on how they managed their brands globally. Part of the remit was the branding had to feature the trophy in some format. I do think that Brandia Central got it right for this year’s World Cup after a few false starts since 2002. Germany 2006, what happened there! Apparently, it’s all Franz Beckenbauer fault as he wanted something radical. 


This year’s official poster for the World Cup is pretty slick but the very first one, Uruguay 1930, is one of my favourites with a not so subtle nod to Art Deco.


Gary Gleeson, Partner

Gary is a Partner at Neworld, a brand & creative design agency with over 30 years experience developing brands to position them for future growth. Gary has worked with some of Ireland’s biggest brands such as Diageo, John Rocha and O2 and is a recognised expert in hospitality branding, working with Fade St Social, Powerscourt Hotel, Mount Juliet and Adare Manor to name but a few. His belief in branding and its relationship with design effectiveness has seen him guide a myriad of companies through the branding maze. He realises client visions using this synergy of strategic branding and design. He is also the self-professed champion of chilli-making!