Branding the Russian Rouble (11/26)     Print Email

Branding the Russian Rouble -- Update 12/13

And the winning symbol for the Russian rouble is:

wsj201312r

Picture from Wall Street Journal

Bank of Russia announced that 61 percent in a popular poll had chosen the Russian letter R which looks like a P in Latin script--crossed with a horizontal stripe--for its official symbol in an effort to encourage the use of the rouble internationally.

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By Leah Katherine Bewley, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

As part of the Russian effort to promote itself as a stable financial center after years of hyperinflation and devaluation, the Russian Central Bank is currently rebranding its currency, the rouble and its symbol. Until now, there has been no internationally recognized symbol for the rouble. The Kremlin is looking to increase confidence in the rouble “as a safe currency for investments and savings.”

With a symbol, the currency will be more recognizable like the currencies of the dollar, euro, and pound. Earlier this month, the Russian Central Bank put the choice of a new rouble symbol to a web based vote by the Russian public. There are five proposed symbols on the Central Bank website. [see below] The winner is scheduled to be announced on December 5th.

Russia has struggled with the lack of trust in the rouble for years dating back to the Soviet Union and afterwards. During the 1990s, hyperinflation contributed to frequent devaluation of the rouble. For the last decade, the rouble has remained stable, trading at 30 roubles to the US dollar. Though the rouble is a fully convertible currency, it is not freely exchanged in currency markets. Russia seeks full hard currency and free exchange status for the rouble.

In recent months, Russian President Vladimir Putin has pushed for the creation of a system of multiple reserve currencies to lower the worldwide dependence on the U.S. dollar. He also said the Russian rouble could become a regional reserve currency for the former Soviet area.

The process of designing a new symbol has proven somewhat difficult, due to the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. Using the letter ‘R’ is problematic because in Cyrillic it actually resembles a Roman ‘P.’ This could be a source of confusion for foreigners who use the Latin alphabet. Thus, options emerged for logos using the ‘R’ and ‘P’. Another option was using the Cyrillic letters ‘R’ and ‘U’, however, the Cyrillic ‘U’ looks more like a Latin ‘Y’. Some observers see three of the options that look like ski tracks as advertisement to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Also, the ‘P’ option has been compared to the cross of the Orthodox Christian Church.

When Russians vote, they are also asked to provide a brief written explanation of their choice. As the Russian Central Bank commented, "The introduction of the graphic symbol of the rouble will help promote a positive image of Russia, the capital of which aspires to the status of an international financial centre…”

Below are the candidate symbols:

rub1rub2      rub3rub4rub5

 
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