LONDON - The logo for the 2014 Winter Olympics, to be held in Sochi, Russia, has been unveiled today, becoming the first Olympic emblem to feature a web address - Sochi2014.ru - as organisers target the digital generation.
The new brand was unveiled at a press conference by Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, president and chief executive of Sochi 2014, Dmitry Kozak, deputy prime minister of Russia, Alexander Zhukov, deputy prime minister of Russia and Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC's coordination commission for Sochi 2014.
Chernyshenko said: "We believe this is an historic day for Russia and for winter sport. Sochi 2014 has always been about being a gateway to the future and our new brand demonstrates that commitment more strongly than ever.
"To prove our commitment to innovation, Sochi 2014 will have a clearly digital Games emblem. Today, we welcome tomorrow. We are offering an invitation, an icon and an inspiration to people from across the world to celebrate the thrill of Russia's first Olympic Winter Games."
The Sochi 2014 brand was developed by brand consultancy Interbrand and an Expert Brand Council established by the Sochi 2014 organising committee. The Brand Council included leading figures from sport, branding and marketing, and the arts, with a mixture of Russian and overseas experts.
Sochi 2014 began the brand development process by surveying people from Russia and several countries around the world, gathering thousands of ideas and insights that have been used as building blocks for Sochi 2014's new brand.
London's 2012 Olympic logo caused a storm of controversy when it was unveiled by the design agency Wolff Olins in 2007. Londoners called for it to be axed, dubbing it an "embarrassment", "hideous", "childish" and "ugly".
The logo for the Winter Games has been designed to provide a clear emphasis on reaching new audiences through digital platforms.
It features the web address "sochi2014.ru", with the "Sochi" placed on top of the "2014", typographically mirroring each other, which is meant to reflect that Sochi is the meeting point between the sea and the mountains. The Olympic rings sit in their original colours beside the web address.
Commenting on the Sochi 2014 logo, Fred Burt, managing director of design agency Siegel+Gale London, said: "I'm no fan of London 2012 identity so it's a relief to see Sochi 2014 restore some sanity.
"As a logo it should work well in small sizes and next to other partner logos — key from a commercial point of view. It feels fresh and up-to-date, promising a new Russia that perhaps the wider world does not know [think how Beijing benefitted in this regard].
"I'll be interested to see how the URL plays out — has the system been designed to drop the '.ru' in certain circumstances? But I'd applaud Sochi's commitment to driving their audience to a URL, something that will allow them to control the experience much more directly.
"The typographical mirroring of the 'h/y' 's/z' and '0/o' feels clumsy, however, and undermines the symmetry of the logo. But as ever, it's the experience not the logo that will make this brand."
Rogge, IOC president, said: "The Sochi 2014 emblem will become one of the most visible and recognised marks for people of all ages from around the world over the next few years, especially as Sochi 2014 has made a conscious effort to link its brand to the digital generation.
"Thanks to the growth of social media, the Sochi brand will no doubt spread like never before through these online channels reaching the youth of the world quickly and in a format that they appreciate."
The emblem has been designed to actively encourage dialogue between Russians, nations and winter sports fans — particularly youth — through Sochi 2014's online platforms.
Sochi 2014 said the brand centres around the idea that the 2014 Winter Games will be a celebration of sporting achievement, while also providing momentum for positive change.
The Games' tagline is 'Gateway to the Future', which will be used to promote Sochi 2014 as a catalyst for long-lasting sporting, social, economic and environmental legacy.
The new Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games brand will be launched later this month.