Responses by Brandenburg
Background: For the last decade, the Icelandic football teams have gained momentum and success, qualifying for both the men’s and women’s European championships and becoming the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup. With the international spotlight and increasing tourism, KSÍ, the football association of Iceland decided to redefine its brand image. After thorough analysis with advisors from The Union of European Football Associations, the conclusion was to separate the association from the national teams based on the fact that the entities have different roles, setup and images.
Reasoning: The association’s role is to strengthen the infrastructure and provide support and education for the football community. In the meantime, the national teams had developed their images as teams of passion, spirit and togetherness. We also needed to create a national crest that would amplify our teams’ values and emphasize our strengths, history and fighting spirit.
Our heritage comes from Nordic settlers, sometimes referred to as Vikings, who were good craftsmen and storytellers. The identity is a mixture of that craftsmanship and storytelling, executed with a contemporary look for a modern football association. It tells of the saga of the four protectors of Iceland—the bull, eagle, dragon and giant—known as the Landvættir, who protected Iceland from an invasion from King Harald Bluetooth Gormsson of Denmark. When Iceland became an independent republic in 1944, the protectors, along with the flag, formed the Icelandic coat of arms.
For a long time, fans called for that the original coat of arms to be used as the team crest but the coat of arms is not suitable for a football jersey. It also can only be used by the Icelandic president and government. And from a branding point of view, it would always have stronger ties to the government than the national team. So we evolved the coat of arms into a crest that felt modern, taking notes from the logo of the Central Bank of Iceland. We wanted the national crest to be woven together in a unique way to illustrate the team spirit of our national teams.
Challenges: We spent a long time finalizing the logo, or the crest. It was challenging making these four different creatures work as a single symbol and find a balance so that one doesn’t outshine the other. It was also challenging to design a font that would work with the logo. The inspiration behind the typeface was the Icelandic wood carving block typeface called Höfðaletur, which dates back to the sixteenth century and is based on European blackletter fonts and fraktur. It has a lowercase approach, which goes against the traditional uppercase sports types use today. We wanted to have a strong typeface that could harmonize with our crest and amplify our message and image.
Visual influences: We were inspired by our Icelandic heritage, but we didn’t want the design to feel old or too Viking-ish. It couldn’t be too much of a Viking cliche for the Icelandic fans, but it had to have some touch of history for the foreign fans. We have a term here in Iceland that comes from football called “stöngin inn eða stöngin út.,” or when you do something, you either hit the post and it’s a goal—meaning it's good—or it goes out of bounds and it’s trash. Hopefully, we scored this time.