Soccer may have had a slow start in the United States, but it is gaining popularity almost by the second. This year, millions of Americans tuned in to watch the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. While new to most Americans, this event has been taking place to much global fanfare for almost a century. Similar to the Olympic Games, each World Cup has a brand and a logo design to represent its unique spirit to the world. Here are ten of these designs, in order of year rather than personal preference.
URUGUAY 1930 LOGO
1 Although the field of logo design was still in its infancy in 1930, this logo certainly shows evidence of good design. Highly stylized images and lettering are used to portray a sophisticated and timeless image. The colors are eye-catching and bright, as befitting a sports event.
CHILE 1962 LOGO
2 What could be a more compelling or relevant image for this event than that of a soccer ball orbiting the globe? The writing in high contrast white is easy to read in large blocky letters that pop in a prominent yet gently rounded font. The result is a logo that has withstood the test of time while maintaining its meaning.
MEXICO 1970 LOGO
3 What makes this logo a winner? It retains much of the tropical heat of its host country while also representing the global nature of the event itself. Few logos can work in hot pink, but this one is certainly an exception. Part of this is due to the minimalist image of a soccer ball that takes up much of the logo. The writing is formed from several layered lines, which was a trend then. It maintains a certain amount of retro charm, especially when combined with bright colors and lower case writing below.
ARGENTINA 1978 LOGO
4 This logo design is a huge digression from the last few, which were really more posters than proper logos. This image features a soccer ball surrounded by layered lines that represent hands holding the ball, in light blue matches the color scheme of the Argentinean flag. The soccer ball is ultra-stylized to match the style of the lines and the writing. The font is rounded and surely was more contemporary in 1978, although it is still a good choice with the rest of the logo design.
MEXICO 1986 LOGO
5 The World Cup returned to Mexico in 1986, with yet another logo design winner. However, this logo is very different. We see the two hemispheres of the globe behind a red and white soccer ball. The nation and year are written in a layered line font yet again, which ties into the last World Cup held in this nation. The repeated use of rounded elements and circles gives a friendly feeling while echoing the shape of a soccer ball. If you notice, the colors, this time, are those of the Mexican flag.
ITALY 1990 LOGO
6 The nineties had their own distinct look, and this logo is highly representative of it. The ball is shown in an abstract form that is echoed by the upper case writing’s slight disjointed feeling. The writing is slanted so that it appears to be leading toward the ball. While red and green, the colors of the Italian flag, are predictable choices here, they are arranged to resemble a 3-D image. In all, this logo is simple, echoing the aesthetics of its time while remaining relevant two decades later.
THE UNITED STATES 1994 LOGO
7 How can a country that isn’t that into soccer host a World Cup? In 1994, the USA gave it a try. We see a waving image in familiar patriotic colors, with a soccer ball in mid-flight rather than stars. This obviously relates to both the nation and to the sport. Ultra-plain writing in black and red allows all of the emphasis to remain on the image. If you look at this logo and the one before it, you can get a definitely feeling of the unique style of this decade.
FRANCE 1998 LOGO
8 The French are known for their sense of style, and here they don’t disappoint. We see the colors of the French flag—you will notice that using a nation’s colors for their World Cup design became common in the eighties and never lost momentum. A soccer ball is rising like a sun over a stylized image of a globe, suggesting that the sun rises and sets with this sporting event. The writing is slightly stylized but much more modern and simple than any of the older logos.
KOREA/JAPAN 2002 LOGO
9 Although 2002 predates the Web 2.0 trend, this logo design is a little ahead of its time in duplicating this now well-known style. We see a bright and rounded image with all the friendliness of a Web 2.0 logo as well as the shiny, somewhat realistic look. A stylized person holds a soccer ball triumphantly over his head, which is the first time we have seen a human being in these logo designs. However, the interest lies in the details with this logo. Metallic gold adds a feeling of wealth, while the two 0’s are in the shape of an infinity symbol. The writing has a definite Asian feeling due to the shapes of the letters, which ties into the host countries.
BRAZIL 2014 LOGO
10 Here is the newest FIFA World Cup logo. Will it take its place among the other timeless logos on our list? Traditional Brazilian colors dominate the palette. Again we see hands clasped together, not unlike the Argentina 1978 logo but with a modern twist. Although the soccer ball is not seen, it looks as though the hands are holding it. The name of the country is not shown here, due to disagreements over the proper way to spell it, but it is easy to associate this image with its host nation.
FIFA World Cup is a great worldwide tradition and one that is drawing more interest in the United States as well. If the branding efforts and logo designs continue to be excellent, we can see the event gaining, even more, fame all over the world.