Best World Cup logos ever

After the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup is the biggest global sporting tournament around – and its official branding has attracted the world's attention for decades.

As well as reflecting the essence of the tournament, the logo design also needs to convey elements of the host country – no mean feat for the branding agency that wins the account.

To mark the start of the Russia 2018 World Cup, we've taken a look back at eight of the best logos (opens in new tab) from World Cup tournaments since 1930...

01. Uruguay 1930 World Cup poster

Uruguay 1930 world cup poster

This stylised Art Deco poster captures the spirit and drama of the game, as well as the aesthetic of the time

We're starting at the very beginning, with the first ever World Cup – held in Uruguay in 1930, when there were only 13 teams participating.

Although the tournament didn't have a 'logo' in the modern sense, its unique look and feel was conveyed through a beautiful Art Deco-style poster.

Featuring an absract, stylised image of a goalkeeper making a save, clad in the  Uruguay national colours, the poster captures the spirit of the game as well as the aesthetic of the time.

02. France 1938 World Cup poster

France 1938 world cup poster

Depicting a triumphant footballer conquering the globe, this poster doesn't go over the top with red, white and blue

Two tournaments later, the World Cup made it to France – with another beautifully stylised poster replacing the action shot of Uruguay's offer with a dominant, imposing stance of a footballer conquering the globe.

Little did the world know of the devastating conflict that would be sweeping through France in the following few years, but here in 1938, notions of victory and world domination were confined to the beautiful game.

This was the third and final time a poster represented the tournament, rather than a logo. Compared to some of the more overt 'national flag' palettes that followed, the use of red, white and blue is much more conceptual and abstract.

England 1966 world cup logo

England's World Cup logo is packed with national pride, and prominently features the Jules Rimet trophy

By contrast, England's 1966 logo – the first, and only time the country has triumphed at the tournament – leaves no doubt about the host country, featuring a bold, bright flag. Although Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish fans may query the choice of the Union Flag rather than the English one.

As well as the English team's Three Lions crest, another very overt link with the host country, the logo also prominently features the Jules Rimet Cup itself – which was replaced by the current design in 1974.

England 1966 world cup mascot

World Cup Willie was the first ever World Cup mascot – every tournament since has had one

Rather than a footballer conquering the globe, with a ball on top of it, the strikingly symmetrical design instead integrates the globe with the football.

Another first was the introduction of the first ever World Cup mascot – footballing lion, World Cup Willie – who kick-started a tradition that has now become integral part of tournament culture.

Mexico 1970 world cup logo

The Mexico 1970 tournament was the first to feature the now instantly recognisable Telstar ball design

The following World Cup, held in Mexico in 1970, is widely considered one of the finest in history – seeing Pelé's Brazil team picking up their third trophy.

The logo is beautifully simple, graphic and effortlessly iconic – and also the first to feature the adidas Telstar ball, with its alternating pentagonal and hexagonal segments, now inextricably linked with the modern game.

Italy 1990 world cup logo

The abstract, graphic Italia '90 logo puts a fresh twist on its iconic Mexico '70 predecessor

Two decades later, a similarly minimalistic depiction of the ball design featured in the Italia '90 World Cup logo, albeit offset in a more abstract way to incorporate the colours of the Italian flag.

After a flurry of anthropomorphic animals followed England's World Cup Willie – and continue to this day – Italy really bucked the trend with its mascot, translating the stylised, graphic look and feel of the logo design into a character called Ciao.

Italy 1990 world cup mascot

Built entirely from blocks, Ciao easily stands out amongst all other World Cup mascots

Other than his featureless football-shaped head, Ciao – which means both 'hello' and 'goodbye' in Italian – was composed entirely of simple blocks in the Italian colours. He certainly stands out in a line-up of World Cup mascots to this day.

Korea / Japan 2002 world cup logo

Interbrand went for a modern, abstract geometric approach to combine the trophy with a banner-waving fan

The first World Cup of the new millennium, Korea/Japan's joint hosting of the tournament in 2002 kicked off a wave of modern, geometric logos that put the focus back on the trophy rather than the ball, and the global community of fans rather than the host country.

Formed from intersecting curves and circles, the logo – created by Interbrand London – is a clever combination of trophy outline and banner-waving fan, all contained within a satisfying perfect circle.

Germany 2006 world cup logo

Paying homage to the Korea / Japan 2002 logo, Germany 2006 was all about celebrating the spirit of the fans

For the following tournament in Germany in 2006, the logo integrates its predecessor for the first time in World Cup logo history – although this time, fuill prominence is given to the fans.

Having last hosted the Word Cup in 1974 (as West Germany, the eventual champions) with a minimalist two-colour logo that depicted a ball flying through the air, modern unified Germany opted for a much more colourful, cheerful design.

Germany 1974 world cup logo

The 2006 logo makes a stark contrast to its predecessor, from West Germany 1974

Dubbed 'Celebrating Faces of Football', the 2006 logo is all about the camaraderie of the game, with the '0' and '6' given stylised laughing faces.

Germany's flag colours are subtly represented, as a sweeping banner around the side, as well as within the repurposed Korea/Japan 2002 logo at the bottom.

Russia 2018 world cup logo

Packed with cultural references, the Russia 2018 logo is unapologetically decorative

And so we come to Russia 2018, which like the much-criticised Brazil 2014 logo –popularly dubbed a 'facepalm', which proved rather apt due to the host country's humiliating 1–7 semi-final exit – puts all the emphasis on the trophy.

However, Lisbon-based Brandia Central managed to put a bold new spin on the concept, integrating references to Fabergé eggs, Saint Basil’s Cathedral in the Red Square, and the Sputnik space probe.

This year's World Cup logo is the first example on the list to add decorative, ornamental flair to the design – and it works. Combined with the personality-laden typeface, it's certainly a new twist on World Cup logo tradition.

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Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards (opens in new tab) in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.