In November, the Russian tourism and brand agency announced the winner of a new national logo. Our neighbouring nation’s tourism will promote the logo and visual identity inspired by the art of suprematism from the beginning of the 20th century and based on a stylized Russian map. The logo has the main regions of the country depicted in simplified geometric shapes.
In the Estonian media the new logo is compared to the current boulder – brand conception (read for example articles from Best Marketing and Postimees) and is appreciated for its graphic design level. The attention has been drawn away from the fact that our eastern neighbour’s tourism logo has a hidden ideological, imperialistic and propagandistic message.
Here the logo depicts Crimea as part of Russia, which was annexed in 2014 from Ukraine. The occupied peninsula is represented as a small square in the logo. Not a single western country recognizes Crimea belonging to Russia and the annexation of the peninsula is the reason why international sanctions have been imposed against Russia.
No real graphics have currently been introduced for use, all images in the media where the logo could be used with outdoor ads, transportation and even on space rockets are photo edits. The widespread use of the new logo is expected in the summer when the football World Cup will take place in Russia and many tourists will be visiting Russia. It is likely that the logo will be seen on foreign tourism agency materials and will be printed on souvenirs and T-shirts. Anyone who wears such a symbol will be contributing to the normalization of Russia’s annexation and will be helping to prevent the abduction of Crimea from the Ukraine from being perceived as a gross injustice.
The marking of such small propaganda efforts is important for small countries like Estonia. The occupation of the Republic of Estonia by the USSR in 1940 is very similar in some ways to the capturing of Crimea.
The image of Crimea on maps has been a problem in the past as well. Atlases were collected from being sold in Czech Republic where Crimea was shown as a part of Russia. In other parts of the world the showing of borders in maps have been part of governmental propaganda. For example, The Falkland islands, which belong to Great Britain, are shown in Argentinian national maps as part of that same South American nation. Recently a scandal regarding map topics took place in Argentina. For maps with disputed territories, you can read for example the online editions of Gizmodo or Wikipedia .
Pictured: A screen shot from the presentation of the Russian brand logo. In the second picture a Russian school card issued in 2014 showing Crimea as part of Russia.