Biz Features

Lessons From Sochi We Can All Learn – How the 2014 Winter Olympics Ruined Russia’s Image Before it Began

by . February 7th, 2014

If Russia’s homophobic policies and legislation didn’t give it enough of a bad name among many in the international community, the now-obvious mismanagement of infrastructure projects for the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi certainly did.

If accusations of corruption and general backwardness haven’t ruined Russia’s image enough, the piles of litter around the Olympic Village and event sites might. Officials in charge of the preparations have even put up barriers to hide ongoing construction and mountains of garbage, somehow making things look even worse than they actually are.

They even painted over the completion dates. They couldn’t say the same thing about the hotel.

Concrete and asphalt was overlaid directly over mud during preparations. Workers are filling in potholes all over Sochi at the moment.


Even though event sites have been declared ready for the games, there have been numerous reports of embarrassing oddities in the Olympic Village, as well as the hotels and other parts of the support infrastructure around the site.

Despite assurances of the contrary, even as the games begin as planned, the other preparations for Sochi have fallen well behind schedule. Especially entertaining are tweets from a number of journalists on the state of their hotel rooms.




On Branding and the XXII Olympic Winter Games

It’ll be a couple of weeks until the Winter Olympics ends, but regardless of whatever happens, its safe to say the damage to Russia’s “brand” has been done, and it will likely find it difficult to win any bids for similar international events any time soon.

This is despite the fact that things have actually gone mostly to plan.

Whether you’re running a country looking for for prestige and foreign investments or a small store out of Etsy, plenty of the same things apply. It’s never just about delivering what you explicitly promised. After all, Russia technically delivered. But few people are talking about that particular detail.

People want to be delighted. In any enterprise, your job covers your customer’s implicit needs – things they might not even know they want – and continues even after you deliver.

Here’s more on how to delight customers

People are far more likely to report bad experiences than merely satisfactory ones. Few have the time or emotional energy to go to a review site and say “BurgerCo’s fries were ok.” and just leave it at that.

The only way to make customers really feel anything is to either make their day or completely ruin it.

You can win a lucrative bid, or deliver a product technically better than your competitors, but the little details will always add up. Do you really think your restaurant can just make do without a sink that actually works? Do you think your e-commerce site doesn’t need to pay attention to the typefaces it uses? What kind of business cards do you use? Are they even appropriate for your business? The list of questions and brand implications is endless.

Branding is not just about your logo and it’s not there so you can hook your customers in just that one time. It’s about the entire experience and about getting them to come back.

After all, it’s hard to convince someone to come back after this:


Additional Reading

Washington Post – Journalists at Sochi are live-tweeting Their Hilarious and Gross Hotel Experiences

The Daily Beast Putin’s Olympic Shame

The Guardian  – Ongoing Construction at Sochi Winter Olympic Village in Pictures

Yahoo! News – No Light Bulbs, No Shower

Image Sources

All images except Twitter embeds by Aleksandr Valov from


Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.