A Look Into: The Evolution of World Cup Logo Design
The FIFA World Cup has been and will always be the most celebrated football tournament throughout the years. Various aspects of the game has generated much hype. This includes the official logo design and this year is no different.
The design is important as the logo represents and creates the identity of each year’s World Cup event. When you look at a particular year’s logo, you immediately associate all the World Cup events and highlights from that year. Besides that, the logos try to convey elements of the host country in its design.
Let’s take a look at the logo designs for the World Cup as we take a trip back in time, from the first World Cup event in Uruguay (1930) to modern-day Brazil (2014).
The very first World Cup tournament and its poster. The design here has an artsy abstract feel to it yet it’s easily understood – it is a goalkeeper, clad in Uruguay’s flag colors, saving the ball from the goal.
There were only 13 teams participating in this inaugural World Cup.
This poster clearly depicts Italy as the host country. The football player featured has part of the Italian flag on his jersey. Even the socks are colored white and green which are part of the national flag colors.
To show that it is a global competition, flags of participating nations are placed in the backgroud.
The world is at your feet – well, in this poster, it lies under a football too. The stance of the player, is both dominant, symbolizing victory and triumph, and imposing, challenging other nations in a worldwide competition spanning the globe. The colors used are from the French flag albeit in a slightly different shade.
This will be the last year World Cup posters are used to represent the Games.
After two missed World Cup events due to WW2, the World Cup resurfaced in a new host country, Brazil. It was the last first year to sport an official World Cup logo, although the general design was still poster-like. Like the current 2014 logo, the colors from the Brazillian flag are incorporated in the design.
Switzerland was already trying minimalism in 1954, and boldly does so with a World Cup logo design. The white cross on red, signifies the Swiss flag, and is placed on a red football. The fact that it is a world event is highlighted with the globe design in the background.
The text at the outline of the globe can be roughly translated as World Football Championship in three languages – French, German and Italian, the three most spoken languages in Switzerland.
Sweden backtracks to the poster style albeit with some liberties, with this 1958 World Cup logo design. The letters VM in the background stands for Världsmästerskapet. It translates as World Championship from Swedish.
The ball and the football player completes this simple football event logo design.
Featured in the middle of the logo is a stadium. Chile placed their flag in the field to signify that the World Cup would take place on their grounds. Surrounding the stadium is a circle that is half football (top) and half globe (bottom).
The event was slightly marred by a 9.5-magnitude earthquake, and major reconstruction was required to the infrastructures affected.
The design leaves no one guessing as to who is the host of the 1966 World Cup. Flanked by the UK flag, this logo design has a piece of history in it – the trophy you see was the previous trophy design before the current one was introduced in 1974. Also, it was christened the Jules Rimet Cup hence its name as part of the text.
The globe and football are depicted as one, one in shape, the other in color shades.
Mexico truly stripped down the World Cup logo in this shockingly simple, tradition-defying logo. Using negative and positive space to depict the shape of the football, this logo design marks the start of more to come. The only indication we get that the World Cup was hosted in Mexico is in its accompanying text.
Fun fact: Brazil, having won the World Cup for the third time, takes home the Jules Rimet Cup permanently.
Germany, or West Germany to be exact, continued with the single-color design, started by Mexico. At first glance, it would seem that there is nothing to suggest that Germany is the host country. The answer lies in the letters WM, short for Weltmeisterschaft which means World Cup in German.
The year also marked the start of a new trophy design, which continues to be used in this year’s World Cup.
There are two versions of this logo. The other has the flags of participating countries surrounding this. The version shown here is simpler and revisits the flag color and design style – the blue lines surrounding the football represent the Argentinian flag.
Spain also took the flag route with their logo design but included more than just their own flag. The Spanish flag is placed prominently in the middle of the logo with the football, and surrounded by flags of participating countries. The design had reason to celebrate. The 1982 World Cup was the first to see an attendance of more than 2 million spectators.
It was also the first year that 24 teams played in the World Cup, All this while, only 16 teams, at most, participated in the event.
Mexico is once again host to the World Cup, and in their second logo design, simplicity still reigns. A football is placed between two parts of the globe, making the connection with the year’s slogan "The World United By Ball".
The national flag colors, red, white and green are displayed prominently by the logo.
The first time Italy hosted the event was 50 years back. Not only has the event changed through half a century, the change in logo design has also been massive. It was simple, minimalistic, using only three colors, red and green from the national flag and black.
Germany scored their third championship in this World Cup, the third nation to do so after Brazil and Italy.
Held in the United States, this logo clearly states where the World Cup was held back in 1994. It features the red and white stripes from the American flag. Where the blue section of the flag should be is a blue football kicked upwards, diagonally.
To date, this was the most heavily attended World Cup event in its history, with close to 3.6 million spectators!
Many have praised the France World Cup logo for being the best and it’s easy to see why. Although the design is simple, it conveys its point and it’s creative. The design features the football "rising" over the the Earth’s horizon, as if it is the Sun. The colors used are from the French flag.
This was the second year France hosted the tournament, and the first time it took home the Cup.
We enter a new millenium and the World Cup logo got a facelift that is more with the times. Designed by London-based firm Interbrand, the logo features a stylized World Cup trophy in prominence whilst incorporating elements from Korea and Japan, the hosts.
The zeroes in 2002 is styled as the infinity symbol to signify the unity and link between the co-organizers and other involved parties.
Compared to its 1974 logo design, this version is a lot more colorful and cheerful. It is named "Celebrating Faces of Football" and is intended to portray the emotions and camaraderie one can get in a football match. Two of the faces sitting side by side form 0 and 6 to signify the year 2006.
Germany’s flag colors makes a subtle appearance, adding color to the mix and look, the logo design from 2002 makes a cameo!
South Africa (2010)
So much color! 2010’s logo was designed by Gaby de Abreu from Switch Design and features a silhouette of a person performing a bicycle kick on a football. The red, yellow, blue and green streaks in the background forms the African continent and the South African flag. The trophy design from 2002 makes another, more subdued cameo.
This World Cup was the first to be hosted in the African continent and saw Spain emerge as the champions.
This year’s anticipated World Cup had its logo revealed during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. It was selected out of the 125 designs from 25 Brazillian-based agencies. Entitled “Inspiration“, the logo was designed by design agency Africa.
The premise of the logo is simple. It forms the image of the World Cup trophy with hands holding up the trophy in victory. The yellow and green represent the golden beaches and the tropics of Brazil, and are the two main colors of the Brazillian flag. The design also refers to Brazil’s five wins in past World Cup tournaments.
It’s fascinating to see how the logos evolve over time. They may not be perfect but they fulfill their purpose to convey elements of the host country of that year’s World Cup event. At the end of the day, it is still a global event, participated by some of the world’s best football players, and watched and followed by football fans from all over.
Which World Cup logo do you think was the most uniquely designed?