The new World Cup logo: designers on how it scores against WC logos of old

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What are designers thinking about the new World Cup 2022 logo?

The 2022 World Cup has already caused a lot of controversy, but the divided opinion has now seeped into the design world.  

Earlier this month FIFA revealed the logo for the 2022 event (below) created by Portuguese design studio Unlock. According to FIFA, the emblem was a joint project between in-house designers and Unlock. 

The curved emblem is said to mimic an eight symbol, referencing the number of stadiums hosting the event in Qatar. The logo claims to also mirror the shape of the cup itself. A new typeface was created for the branding, echoing Arabic calligraphy which according to FIFA ‘fuses tradition with modernity’.

The main symbol takes inspiration from the traditional shawls worn throughout the winter months in the Middle East, a nod to the timing of the actual tournament taking place in November and December for the first time in FIFA history. The floral patterns incorporated throughout the logo are said to reference the embroidery normally seen on the shawls which are based on traditional Arabian art. It’s also the first FIFA World Cup logo to go fully 3D.

We asked four designers from across the board their thoughts on the new design, comparing it with classic World Cup logos of yesteryear. 

Rob Willmott, co-founder and realisation director, me&dave 

West Germany ’74 aside, World Cup logos from the last 50 years have always been brilliant.

Why? Because they celebrate the colour and energy of football. 

Remember España ’82? A Spanish flag representing the flight of a ball. 

Energy… Tick.

Football… Tick.

It’s simple and it’s great.

But with Qatar 2022 we see a product of digital-first, 3D peer pressure. A logo’s role is to reflect the brand’s values and act as a figurehead, not to inject movement and animation: this is what footage and secondary graphics are for.

Stepping out of the sporting arena for a second, consider BT’s recent logo evolution. Despite initial backlash, the new logo’s strength is beginning to be appreciated. Its simplicity lets it unite every aspect of BT’s business – equally at home in the world of Healthcare and Telecoms – and it works seamlessly across any platform, from phone screen to windscreen. A short-lived sporting event mark obviously needs more ‘va va voom’, but there’s a lesson to be learned here in the importance of simplicity.

If football is the world’s common language, each World Cup logo is a nation’s greeting to the global community. And true beauty in language is found in simplicity: absolute clarity. In attempting to capture so many meanings, the voice of football in this logo has been lost. That’s a real shame.

Lucy Soares, junior designer, ShopTalk

The new FIFA World Cup logo has caused a lot of controversy, probably because it isn’t what football fans are used to seeing. I think it's interesting that, instead of the typical cup, the icon is a representation of something more – the eight stadiums where the games will take place.

Combining the small pieces of embroidery that are present on the white background with the new typeface, which was designed exclusively, brings a unique feel to the logo. This is not only about football; it’s sending a message about the country that will host this event and showing a bit of their culture.

However, I think the little detail on top of the icon, a reference to the Ghutra (a traditional Qatari headdress) was lost in translation. You don’t need to tell the brand story in one unique mark. As designers often say, the best ideas are the simplest.

Alex Moulton, Chief Creative Officer, Trollbäck+Company 

I appreciate that the new World Cup identity brings together a distinct sense of location tied to cultural iconography. But it sadly misses the mark in its attempt to simultaneously feel both modern and classical, and depends on excessive ornamentation to the extent that it needs to be explained with an infographic (above). 

Even though the shape expresses motion and flexibility, the glossy rendering evokes a fragile ceramic quality, which effectively fights the energy and attitude of the sport. 

Functionally, I expect that it will be a very challenging logo to deploy because most of the details will be lost when viewed at small scales, especially within the constraints of digital media. 

Ultimately, I’m left with more questions than answers. Does it always require a dark colour background in order to be legible? Will it stand out when placed over photography or video? Is there a non-3D rendered version that will work on apparel or in two-colour print? 

Rob Coke, Executive Creative Director, Studio Output

It’s unlikely that the identity was created with a Western audience front-of-mind. Tournament organisers say it received a rapturous reception in Qatar, and why should we doubt them? But the best identities express one clear idea as simply as possible. In trying to be both an ‘8’ and an infinity symbol, Qatar 2022 fails this basic test. And that’s before considering the other six bullet points FIFA uses to explain its various meanings. 

One says, ‘The emblem can rotate to reveal a perfect circle, reflecting both our planet and a football.’ Here we go again – something for everyone on the organising committee. Logo soup, in other words.

Studio Output's logo work for BBC Three

The identity’s aim should have been to transmit the same idea to as many people as possible. On that measure, Qatar 2022’s emblem is a shambles. So maybe it is appropriate after all?

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