Brave and Bold: Creating New Logo and Visual Identity for Irkutsk City in Eastern Siberia

Natasha Grand, Director of the Institute for Identity INSTID in London, illustrates how her team helped to create a new visual identity for the "tough" city of Irkutsk in Siberia, Russia.

Irkutsk was tough. Tough nature: a city in Eastern Siberia, Russia, a seismically active zone, freezing in winter and scorching in summer. Tough people: descendants of aristocratic exiles, entrepreneurial merchants, ambitious scientists. Tough project: a place 7 time zones away. Tough, and powerful result.

“If aliens invade the Earth, let’s put Irkutsk in charge of resistance” – wrote a commentator to the review of Irkutsk graphic style on Brand New, world’s most authoritative graphic design blog. “There is a wild looseness to it but paired with a somewhat strict application that feels like, literally, capturing lightning in a bottle… and hoping it doesn’t explode.” – said Armin Vit in the review itself.

Irkutsk is a Russian city in southeastern Siberia with the population of 620 000 people. Established in 1661, Irkutsk has lived through the incarnations of a prosperous merchant city, a destination for political dissenters, and a centre for aviation, science and space industries. In its current form, the city is economically confused yet emotionally boisterous.

The Irkutsk tourism office does not have an easy job. Irkutsk is hundreds and thousands of miles away from major cities. For years, it relied on the tourist appeal of the nearby Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater resource. The bulk of Irkutsk visitors were those in transit to Baikal.

The local tourism professionals, yet, had the love and ambition for the city and aimed to make it more internationally and nationally popular. INSTID won a public tender for branding Irkutsk, with the brief of making the identity fundamentals and a visual style for the city.

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