Koninklijke Belgische Snelschaats Federatie (KBSF for short; Royal Belgian Speedskating Federation in English and RBSF for short) is the organization in Belgium responsible for coordinating long-range speed skating and short track speed skating at the national level and bringing athletes to the Winter Olympics and other international events. In 2017, RBSF introduced a new identity designed by Ghent, Belgium-based Henk Willems and Wuustwezel, Belgium-based Jelena Peeters (who, aside from being a graphic designer, happens to be an Olympic speed skater for Belgium) and their work culminated at this year’s Winter Olympics with their design of the country’s speed skating uniform.
Passion into motion
‘Speedskating is all about passion for speed. RBSF shares that passion, and that’s why we understand and support belgian speedskaters by lifting up their ambitions to become the best. To communicate this message, we developed a powerul visual identity system that works across every touchpoint that our members, teams, spectators, sponsors, officials, the media and athletes would come into contact with.’
A logo-set of four different logos was created. The basic shape is based upon the actual shape a speedskater takes while skating. The ‘B’ also refers to Belgium. Combined with a robust, stylish typeface, this approach future-proofs the identity, allowing it to evolve without abandoning its roots.
The old logo was kind of adorable in how un-logo-like it was. The skater illustration, I could actually see that on a t-shirt with a vintage flavor working really well and there was something superhero-ish about them. Not sure about that lonely skater on the other side. The typography on it… well, yeah, that was somewhat painful. The new logo brings the organization quickly into this new century with an angled “B” monogram that, although I’m not sure I completely see the “actual shape a speedskater takes while skating”, conveys a sense of speed and sharpness. The monogram works best when the patterns inside look clearly masked as opposed to the one directly above where the graphics look like they could be separate pieces making the “B” and the one in the wireframe style looks very awkward. The wordmark is a condensed monospace that looks good — if a little static and heavy — but does a good job in minimizing the space needed to present the organization’s full name.
The angled graphic patterns are pretty cool… obviously, very Belgian in their color palette, which makes for a bold color combination that becomes even more striking with the thick lines, hard angles, and dashes of white.
The design uses a specific set of graphical patterns as a visual metaphor for the speed and power of the Belgian speed skating athletes. Layers of vibrant colours and shapes create a flexible style that is inspired by the ambition of our top athletes to be the best.
The old uniforms were very forgettable, which I guess is not a detriment in any way to the athletes or the viewers but after seeing the new uniform they do pale in comparison. The graphic patterns are beautifully integrated into different places in the uniform and they look particularly bad-ass on the yellow sleeves. It has a great balance of solid colors with enough accents to make a statement without it looking like a costume. The asymmetry on the back is pretty cool too.
Overall, this is fun, bold, attractive, and appropriate for an exciting sport. I didn’t think I could be excited about speed skating uniforms but this does the trick.