What spurred me to want to discuss it was this article hi-lighting the two choices for the logo. It's new and fine, unlike Vancouver 2010 which is just around the corner, or the London 2012 logo, which... man, I don't even wanna talk about it.
But anyway, here were the two logo choices for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia:
The logo chosen was the second one: sochi2014.ru.
Since this blog is not exclusively a "design blog" and most of my readers do not partake in graphic design, your initial reaction as a viewer and consumer were probably the same as mine: what the hell were they thinking?!
The article I linked to up there (and will link to again at the end of this post) provides explanations of each logo and the stories behind them, as well as the 100+ comments from designers waxing poetic on the virtues and flaws of each design from a designer's standpoint.
So since all that's been done, I'll devote this post to looking at it from an everyman's standpoint. Of course I'll throw in my own views from a design perspective, but I'm watering it down so I don't end up rewriting the whole article.
When I first look at these, I'm instantly attracted to the first: it's colorful, circular, and dynamic. What's not to love about it? It screams "Olympics!" And any person with the most basic knowledge of the Olympics would recognize the symbolic laureate wreath within the logo.
Then when I found out that they picked sochi2014.ru, my jaw dropped. It's... it's largely typographic. It's cold. It's dull. What happened there?
After looking at them more and thinking about what the logo is supposed to call for (as a designer, I'm supposed to do that!), I realized that the sochi2014.ru actually works for this event, and there are several reasons why.
First of all, the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia is a transitory event. It happens once, and it won't happen again. It's temporary, and the argument there is that the logo doesn't need to be flashy as all get-out. The laureate wreath logo is beautiful and it has history behind it (involving a traditional Russian circle dance and a firebird from Slavic folklore), but all that comes across to most viewers is "laureate wreath! Olympic colors!" It's basically doing the original Olympic logo's job all over again. Nobody is going to know about the circle dance or the firebird from that logo; besides, we have plenty of time to understand Russia's culture and history during the Opening Ceremonies and such.
sochi2014.ru, while not as flashy and pretty as the laureate wreath logo, is very functional on all levels: it includes the website, so that in itself is a call to action. There is a slight mirror in the "sochi" and "2014" that is attractive and apparently representative of Sochi's location—it sits right on the Black Sea, where the mountains meet the water. While it's esoteric like the dance and firebird represented in the first logo, the connection becomes more apparent with the location.
The typeface is terrific! It instantly reminded me of Russian cyrillic letterforms, easily associated with Russia. I can (and have) also make the joke that the logo is cold and unfriendly, just like Russia! It's stereotypical, but hey, we're all thinking it.
There is also a second part to the identity:
These little ice crystal things. It's cute and it works. Not the most impressive thing, but at least they aren't snowflakes. It's also very light-hearted, which balances out the heaviness of the logo sochi2014.ru itself. Every time I type that I'm really saying "sochi-dot-ru" to myself.
The logo doesn't scream "Olympics" to start. It takes a while for you to process it... it's a new logo, then you see this little Olympic rings logo at the bottom. This is the Olympics? What? And to answer your question, sochi2014.ru is right there to guide you to the website.
Oh yeah, and when it's blown up to a huge size it looks really powerful and impressive... kind of like Russia.
So after all this, it's easy to see why they picked it.
It represents the host city and country well, serves as a call to action, and isn't redundant like the first one. Even though the first one is pretty.
I highly encourage you to read the original article in full, to get the whole gist of both logos and read what other designers have to say about it.