Agreeably Vague - Costa Rica gets a re-badge

New Costa Rica badge for 2022-23

Hot on the heels of Norwich City comes Costa Rica with a new badge design of their own.

Whether there was a more desperate need for theirs is difficult to say. Stylistically, the Central Americans’ former logo looked forever trapped in a world where clipart was king. That said, you felt they’d at least got someone with basic design skills to play around with the clipart. It didn’t look bad exactly… just slightly out of step with modern design trends.

Tangentially, I remember seeing the old badge for the first time while collecting stickers for my Panini World Cup 2002 album. It looked pretty good back then, but I’ll admit I may have been blinded by the shiny foil background which could make anything look better.

That old badge, however, has been left behind by so many new logos with their effortless gloss, like Marilyn Monroe’s lipstick or Cristiano Ronaldo’s forehead. Replacing the string bean man in a psychedelic time tunnel comes a new logo that couldn’t be more different in just about every respect.

The old circular container is replaced by an ornate shield which makes for a more engaging and traditional basic shape. Inside the golden shield’s outline are the letters ‘CR’ in red, surrounded by some thick blue edging. Above the lettering are three shapes which, on a traditional shield, might be scrolls of some type, but here they’re flattened peaks representing Costa Rica’s volcanoes and mountain ranges.

Overall, it’s a rather nice badge that uses the red, white and blue of the flag well, and references the national coat of arms with a pleasing sense of subtlety. Unfortunately (and there always seems to be an ‘unfortunately’ somewhere), the main weakness of the badge is in the ‘CR.’ Obviously it represents the name of the team and country, but it doesn’t seem enough somehow. It’s as if the designers are assuming that people can’t deal with multi-syllable text on a badge, so they’re spoon-feeding us the graphical equivalent of Heinz baby food in a jar.

With no explanation for what the ‘CR’ means, it could easily be misinterpreted for something else, like a confederation logo or even a device to promote the personal brand of the aforementioned Mr Ronaldo. The lettering itself looks good, and it’s illustrated as well as the rest of the badge which is nicely executed. In striving for perfection though, it falls short for not even bothering to include the full name of the country, some form of easily recognisable national imagery or even a football.

Agreeably vague, it’s undoubtedly an improvement on the last badge. I just have a feeling this is helping to usher in a new era of logo design where relevant detail is seen as unnecessary. In keeping my fingers crossed, I can’t say I’m entirely hopeful for the future.

Above right: New Costa Rica badge. Above left: Previous Costa Rica badge.