Russia, the largest country in the world by area, is better summed up by Fodor’s than me: “The grandeur of the Czars, the brutality of Soviet regime, the literary masterpieces baring the Russian soul, and the onion domes of the cathedrals all have captivated the imagination of generations of travellers. Now Russia is shedding its Soviet past and creating itself anew. The palaces, cathedrals, and statues are all still there. But today’s Russia is cynical and hip and full of contrasts. Trendy art galleries replaced the Soviet factories in many cities and fierce capitalism has created the wildly rich. More billionaires live in Moscow today than anywhere else, where restaurants, nightclubs and shops have taken luxury to a new level. In the new Russia, it seems anything is possible.” Including establishing a new tourism brand. In 2015, the Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation and the Association of Branding Companies of Russia launched a competition that attracted 480 submissions. A committee selected ten for public voting and the top three vote-getters went for one more round. The final selection was revealed this past November and the winning proposal was designed by Vladimir Lifanov, Ilya Lazuchenkov, Yegor Mysnik, Denis Schlesberg, and Erken Kagarov.
Suprematism — one of the directions of the Russian avant-garde — originated in our country in the early 20th century and personified advanced thinking not only on the scale of the country, but the whole world. This cultural phenomenon has passed a sufficient test of time to evoke associations with Russia and today serve as its visiting card in the field of visual aesthetics.
The graphic solution of the brand is a stylized map of Russia. The elements from which it is collected denote the points and territories of our Motherland, conveying its character convincingly and accessible.
Avoiding most possible clichés, the logo builds on a relatively less known artistic expression from Russian history, Suprematism (the cliché could have been Constructivism), to draw a highly stylized version of the geographic area of the country (the cliché could have been a representation of Moscow’s Red Square). At first, the result is unexpected and awkward but when I first saw it I immediately saw the map of Russia — not that that makes a genius in any way but Russia’s shape is well-known enough that it carries a high recognizability factor — and although I didn’t immediately think “Oh, yes, that is clearly Suprematism” I did think of Russian Avant Garde work so there are a couple of connections that should click with potential tourists.
I happen to love the result — aside from the main color palette, which is a little on the dull side — and how the shapes work together to form the country while the “RUSSIA” typography sits neatly in between and on top of all them. We haven’t seen a seriously good flexible identity in a while and this one is a prime example of a truly flexible logo, not just one that changes colors or serves as a logo-as-window. The logo can really mutate into different things… sometimes, yes, acting as a logo-as-window but, for example, the food version above is fantastic as is the tennis one below where the same photo is slightly displaced in each shape. There are also a couple of single-color versions — a stroked and a filled version — used as signatures in some of the renders that look quite great in an awkward, clunky way.
I assume the result will not be to everyone’s enjoyment but I think this is a truly original tourism identity that breaks conventions and manages to convey a bold, confident attitude through a relatively “cold” logo but when activated with imagery and visuals from the country’s history, art, and culture, it becomes quite intriguing and inviting.
Thanks to Anatolijs Vjalihs for the tip.