Nude rebrands Hoskins Contracting

Melbourne studio Nude has created a minimal grid-based identity system for construction company Hoskins Contracting. The new branding reflects the company’s desire to be specialise in high-end commercial projects and refurbishments.

“Hoskins is a 100-year-old family business,” says Nude director John Durey. “They had been in the industry a long time, primarily in general contracting, [but] the next generation of the family wanted to establish a new business in the more design-oriented part of the construction industry.

“Nude was asked to develop a brand that responded to and engaged with interior designers and architects, and show that Hoskins Contracting understood the importance of details,” he adds.

The new look branding is based on a monochrome grid pattern and has so far been applied to stationery, communications and the brand’s website as well as presentation folders, trucks and protective sheeting for construction sites.

The grid structure is an obvious but effective choice for the company and creates a unified but flexible system.

“The brief from the client was to create an identity that was both classic and contemporary. We set out to create a brand that was minimal, confident and masculine –  something that appealed to architects and designers, but also their workforce of contractors, tradespeople and builders,” explains Durey.

“Apart from being well into grids – pretty much all of our design work is grid-based – it just seemed appropriate. With a grid, we have a starting point…[and] by having that structure, we were able to push the branding in a pretty traditional industry,” he adds.

Hoskins’ new logo features the brand name in Melno Bold alongside a symbol made up of overlapping squares, and Durey says it’s inspired by classic marques from the 1960s.

“The client’s business is all about the built or constructed form, and so we wanted to create a logo symbol that represented this sense of structure and grid formation, but were wary of creating a grid pattern that had been done before,” he says.

“For ages we just mucked around with it – we think it started with an H and a C, but then that was too obvious. The form we ended up with had been overlapped to add another dimension and that created a sense of structure and boldness,” he adds.

It’s not a particularly daring identity but it’s not supposed to be: instead, Nude has designed a solid, contemporary system with some lovely added touches, such as the debossed detail on cards and folders.


The sleek design and photography create an upmarket feel and the new look should stand out in an industry where branding often feels a little dated.

“Sometimes unless the business is evolving, there may not be a need to address the brand. With Hoskins Contracting, we had an opportunity to start afresh. The name gave us a foundation, but we worked with the client to create something completely new.”

CR June Monograph: Pelican flies again

Initial sketches by Richard Green for the new-look Pelican logo (on left). He explains that the bird’s ‘eye’ was a challenge to get right (original Pelican logos shown top left in both grids; Green’s final logos show bottom right in each)

For our latest edition of Monograph, free with subscriber copies of CR, we talked to Penguin Press’ art department about the rebirth of the Pelican imprint which relaunched this month. It was a chance to discuss design decisions, logo sketches and early cover treatments – and also look to where the brand is going next…

Pelican was relaunched this month after three decades in hibernation – and while one might think that the rich heritage of the imprint might weigh heavily on the shoulders of the design team (the brand originally ran from 1937 to 1984), it was in fact the digital era that influenced its new direction as much as anything.

Our new 18-page Monograph – which is available with new subscriptions starting with the June issue – features early Pelican designs by Edward Young, William Grimmond and Jan Tschichold, but focuses on the work that the current design team, led by art director Jim Stoddart, has been doing since last year.

Pages from Hans Schmoller’s notebooks showing the first Pelican logos from the 1930s and 40s

Launching in the late 1930s with Bernard Shaw’s The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism, & Fascism, the non-fiction series was to continue the Penguin ethos of printing quality books at an affordable price. Pelican was about self-improvement – making knowledge accessible to a wider readership.

Indeed, Pelican’s were to be “the true everyman’s library for the twentieth century,” said Penguin founder Allen Lane. Now, Penguin’s art department has resurrected the imprint for the twenty-first.

Pelican covers from the 1940s and 50s

Pelican covers from the 1960s and 70s

Cover experiments by the current Penguin Press art department

Grid and logos for the new-look Pelican books

With a new logo by Penguin’s Richard Green and cover, text and digital design by Matthew Young, the project has put the talents of this tight-knit team to great use.

When the brief was announce last year, Young initially worked on a responsive website for Pelican – and from his experiments with typefaces there, chose Brandon and Freight as display and text fonts, respectively.

The first five editions in Pelican’s 2014 range

The full story of the rebirth of Pelican is in this month’s Monograph – available only with a subscription to Creative Review (it comes with our June issue, a World Cup special). Go to our Shopify page to start your subscription today.

Samplers from the first five Pelican books are now available from – the books are in shops now (£7.99). The full website launches on June 1.

D&AD Awards 2014: the winners


A record seven Black Pencils were awarded at D&AD this year, several of them for social or public awareness projects. Here’s our comprehensive round-up of the winners


EdenSpiekermann’s Improving Safety and Comfort on Train Platforms project for NS Dutch Railways won Black in Digital Design. It uses a colour-coded LED strip running above a station platform to help guide passengers to the right part of the train. The strip includes information on the different class carriages, as well as where there are free seats available

Also in Digital Design, Finch won Black for The Most Powerful Arm campaign for charity Save our Sons



No surprise that Volvo Trucks The Epic Split from Forsman & Bodenfors is among the major winners – this time in the Online Branded Films category. The entrie campaign also won a Yellow Pencil


Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves’ GravityLight powers a light source or other electrical device using the power of gravity. A bag filled with rocks or sand generates power as it slowly falls. It was one of two Black Pencils from the White Pencil category (confused?)


The other White Pencil Black Pencil was for the Terre des Hommes Sweetie campaign by LEMZ. The project reportedly helped identify over 1,000 online sexual predators


In Crafts for Advertising, Dentsu Tokyo won Black for Sound of Honda/ Ayrton Senna 1989 in which the driver’s record-breaking lap at the Suzuka circuit was recreated as a sound and light experience


WAX Partnership’s Calgary Society for Persons with Disabilities 2012 Annual Report won Black in Graphic Design. It is bound with a single, central staple in an attempt to convey the difficulties of living with a disability. This is somewhat painfully explained on the D&AD site thus: “Using the insight that ‘being handicapped is hard’ we decided to make the annual hard to read”. Hmmm


This year’s Yellow Pencils are:

The Mac Pro for Product Design

In Writing for Design, McCann Erickson Melbourne won for Phubbing: A Word is Born, for the Macquarie Dictionary


Serial award winners Bloomberg Businessweek chalked up another gong in Magazine & Newspaper Design for a series of covers


Another much-garlanded project, OgilvyOne Worldwide London’s BA Magic of Flying won two Pencils  in Integrated & Earned Media


And it’s no surprise to see Dove Real Beauty Sketches, by Ogilvy & Mather Brazil, picking up a Yellow in the same category

Ogilvy & Mather’s New York office won Yellow for IBM Datagrams, in Crafts for Design. which visualised stats about tennis matches to be shared on social media

In the same category, Stinkdigital won for Luxottica (Ray Ban) Social Visionaries,

As did hat-trick design for glow in the dark story book, Hide & Eek!

And Barcelona-based Mucho won for Nitsa 94/96: El Giro Electrónico. Here’s how they describe the project: “‘Nitsa 94/96: El giro electrónico’, is a documentary that chronicles the beginnings of Nitsa, an iconic nightclub in Barcelona. We were asked to design a limited edition poster to promote the film’s premiere. The visual idea is based on Nitsa’s famous revolving dance floor that the club once featured. In order to create 150 unique posters, we invented a wooden surface that allowed us to turn the paper in a silkscreen machine, printing on a different angle each time. The posters also have a fluorescent colour dot that refers to psychotropic drugs as well as to the proportions of vinyl records. “


A2/SW/HK won for the typefaces it created for The Independent Newspaper redesign (the newspaper itself did not pick up a pencil, however)


Outdor advertising/Ambient
A Yellow for La Voz del Interior, Life Signs by Ogilvy & Mather Buenos Aires in Outdoor Advertising.a road safety campaign from a Colombian newspaper using real crashed cars


Digital Design
Box, Bot & Dolly
“Box explores the synthesis of real and digital space through projection mapping on moving surfaces. The film documents a live performance, captured entirely on camera.”


Press Advertising
The Sunday Times – Rich List, Grey London


Book Design
Nineteen Eighty-Four, Type as Image


Film Advertising Crafts
Hennessy, The Man Who Couldn’t Slow Down, Droga5


Southern Comfort , Whatever’s Comfortable: Karate, Wieden+Kennedy New York


PETA “98% Human”, The Mill/BBDO


Daimler, Chicken, Jung von Matt



Mobile Marketing
Unicef, Food Photos Save Lives, Draftfcb New Zealand



Natalia Project, RBK Communication


Smart Communications, TXTBKS by DDB DM9JaymeSyfu




Colombian Ministry of Defence, You Are My Son by Lowe/SSP3


Amnesty International Trial by Timeline by Colenso BBDO



New Museum, Recalling 1993 by Droga5



Graphic Design
Royal Canadian Mint, Heart of the Arctic by Jam3



Amsterdam Sinfonietta posters by Studio Dumbar


Art On The Underground, Labyrinth by Mark Wallinger by Rose


Whitney Museum of American Art Identity by Experimental Jetset


Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, Mind and Movement by Magpie Studio



Digital Marketing
Delta Airlines, Delta Photon Shower by Wieden+Kennedy New York


Dove, Real Beauty Sketches by Ogilvy & Mather Brazil

Packaging Design
Nippon Design Center, Pierre Hermé Paris
“These three designs were created to package the Ispahan, a macaroon that is one of Pierre Hermé’s most well-known pastries. Using a study of hand-moulding, we designed the packages with smooth joint-free curves and a delicate white texture so that they wrap the Ispahan in a fluid, curvaceous body, as if it were made of dough pressed lightly by a single touch.”

Lidl, Dill – The Restaurant by INGO

“Lidl tried to convince Sweden about the quality in their products. Low price and quality just don’t go together. We built and opened a gourmet restaurant. The British two starred Guide Michelin Chef Michael Wignall was in charge of the cooking. What nobody knew was that ALL food that was used was bought at Lidl, down to the smallest grain of salt. The restaurant, named DILL was open during 3 weeks and fully booked from first day to last.”


Tama Art University, Tamabi by MR_DESIGN
“TAMABI is a nickname for the Tama Art University which is one of the top art schools in Japan. These official advertisements needed to incorporate the university’s slogan ‘MADE BY HANDS’ and principles : the avant-garde, the challenge, and creating something new. We focused on the hand-crafted. We produced many different visuals in a simple format and with a limited selection of motifs. This series consists of about 100 variations. A lot of variations represent the university’s slogan ‘MADE BY HANDS’ and principles. Also we tried to represent the spirit of art and design.”


Harvey Nichols, Sorry, I Spent It On Myself by adam&eveDDB


Writing for Advertising
350 Action, Climate Name Change, Barton F. Graf 9000


Art Direction
Mori Building , Tokyo City Symphony by SIX



Music Videos
Les Télécréateurs, Gesaffelstein Pursuit directed by Fleur & Manu (two Yellow Pencils)



Is Tropical, Dancing Anymore directed by Raphael Rodriguez (NSFW!)



Magazine & Newspaper Design
Series of Moscovskie Novosti newspapers

Crafts for Design
Yoshida Hideo Memorial Foundation, The Beautiful Black List by Dentsu Tokyo
“Celebrating its 50th anniversary, D&AD exhibited successive Black Pencil works together for the first time. We named these collectively as the ‘Black List’ and executed the exhibition’s total design. The main theme is that of the whale. We feel its ability to travel the world without boundaries is equal to D&AD’s unparalleled potential for new discovery.”


Further details (including two radio Yellow Pencils) and credits here

Drygate: Glasgow’s new craft brewery

Glasgow studio D8 has designed branding, packaging and signage for a new craft brewery opening in Glasgow today.

Housed in a former box factory in the city’s east end, Drygate describes itself as the UK’s first experiential craft brewery: the site includes a beer hall, shop, gallery space and outpost of Edinburgh gastropub Vintage and from June, visitors will be able to try brewing their own beer.

We first featured Drygate back in February, when D8 invited Glasgow School of Art alumni to design artwork for packaging. Fifteen designs were selected and displayed at a one-day exhibition in the city, and three have so far been used on bottles.

The initial range of beers includes Bearface Lager, with a label illustrated by Jack Bedford and Linda Sweenie:

Outaspace Apple Ale, with artwork by Patch Keyes and Good Press:

And Gladeye IPA, by Andrew Park:

Large-scale versions of Bedford, Sweenie and Park’s illustrations have also been applied to walls and equipment around the building. The remaining twelve designs will be used on future packaging and some are currently featured in the brewery’s gallery space.

D8’s David Shanks says the choice of artwork was based on “gut feeling and standout. Choosing something that would catch the eye on the shelf and try to bring something new to the crowd of craft beers already out there.”

Illustrations were inspired by flavours in the beer, and each beer’s name is based on the artwork on packaging. Keyes and Good Press’ illustration, for example, depicts funk and soul singer Billy Preston, who was the first signing to the Beatle’s Apple record label. “He’s also apparently the only other person to be name-credited on a Beatles record, bar the Fab Four that is, [and] the name came from one of his classic funk tracks Outaspace,” explains Shanks.

The brewery’s marque is inspired by the German/Nordic translation of Drygate, which mean’s ‘Priest’s path':



And the structure fo the building itself. ‘The seven peaks of the Drygate building give it a strong aesthetic, hinting at its industrial past…Drygate wants to take people on a journey from the everyday to the exceptional, but being exceptional isn’t easy, so the path isn’t straight,’ says D8.

The rounded logotype includes a reference to the building, too, says Shanks: the crossbar of the ‘a’ is inspired by the apex of the roof of a walkway that leads to Drygate’s beer garden.



D8 has also designed a website for the brewery and worked closely with local studio Graven Images on interiors. “The client sought to reflect the grit and glamour of Glasgow, keep the unique industrial details of the space, which was previously a box factory, but still have warmth: somewhere you would want to stay, eat and drink,” says Shanks.

Images: Gordon Burniston

Drygate’s logo and signature zig zag appears on glasses and murals but the overall approach to branding inside is restrained. “There’s no need to over brand the interiors…Graven’s reflection appears subtly, as it should, in furniture details, such as angle stitching in the banquets, edges of tables, dual colour tile work, parquet flooring, [and] trusses between bespoke made beer benches,” says Shanks.

The choice of artwork used on bottles is diverse, but the custom type and Drygate marque give packaging a unified look that should stand out on the shelves against more established brands. Drygate says it will release new guest ales on a regular basis, and the first round is expected in early July.

For details, see

Typography is a practice

Adobe’s Typekit has just launched a new site dedicated to honing typographic skills, via a series of lessons and resources, under the name Typekit Practice

“Typekit Practice is a collection of resources and a place to try things, hone your skills, and stay sharp,” runs the site’s introduction. “Everyone can practice typography.”

On offer are featured lessons, including one on using shades for “eye-catching emphasis”, a list of useful online references (blogs, articles, talks etc), and a reading list of books on typography. Of course, there are also links to Typekit’s own fonts and its accompanying blog.

The Practice site is designed and maintainted by Elliot Jay Stocks, Tim Brown, Bram Stein and the Typekit team.

Aimed at both the type novice and expert, Typekit Practice is certainly informative – the lesson on shades offers some good pointers as to the various shading techniques available – from ‘drop’ and ‘close’ shades to ‘offset’ and ‘printer’s’ iterations – while the site itself is clearly laid out and nicely written.

As Brown writes on the TK blog, ” Lessons stand on a foundation of references to articles, blog posts, books, websites, talks, and other solid resources.”

“For example, John Downer explains why sign painters shade letters to the lower left, Nick Cox reviews Typofonderie’s Ambroise, and Typekit’s own David Demaree ruminates on Hi-DPI typography. We’re working hard to accurately cite the sources of references, so that readers have a starting point for further research.”

It looks like Typekit Practice could evolve into a useful collection of hints and tips for those starting to play with typographic technique, and for others looking for some well-researched information on the discipline.

“We have lots of ideas for Typekit Practice,” writes Brown, “plus an extraordinary group of authors and teachers helping us think up valuable lessons and make good references. Come practice with us.”


Harvey Nichols’ new website

Harvey Nichols has launched a new magazine-style website optimised for use on smartphones and tablets. It’s an interesting approach to content marketing, but the site’s design seems to have divided opinion…

The new website was designed in-house and built by agency Ampersand Commerce. It aims to offer a better and simpler user experience and new features include a ‘MyHN’ section where users can create a profile and shopping shortlists; a ‘fashion emergency’ button which takes them to a live chat with a stylist and a ‘click and try’ service, which orders products to store for a one-on-one appointment with an adviser.

The most noticeable change, however, is the emphasis placed on content. Users can still use drop down menus to browse products by department and category but the homepage is now a mix of editorial features and social content. Articles are grouped into six categories, including trends, editor’s picks, inspiration and brand focus.

Features are identified by icons and hashtags and include a mix of full-screen photoshoots, scrapbook-style grids and more traditional product lists and written content. Colour coding and symbols are also used to group products, sections and services.

The site took around a year to build and five months was spent planning design and user experience. Harvey Nichols’ multichannel director Sandrine Deveaux says designers were given a fairly open brief, but asked to “make products look stunning, ensure people find what they are looking for as quickly as possible and fuse content with product as seamlessly as possible.”

The new site is the brand’s first designed with smartphone and tablet users in mind, and Deveaux says the re-design was driven by a change in consumer behaviour. “We have heavy usage on tablet and mobile, and the move away from desktop looks inexorable,” she says.

“[This] creates its own unique challenges, especially given that the vast majority of our customers are iPhone users, where the screen size is significantly smaller than most android devices,” she says. “One of the most striking changes is the shift from traditional left hand category navigation to persistent top level. We’ve been heavily influenced by tablet usage where long scrolls are the norm, and felt that left hand navigation isn’t fit for purpose anymore,” she adds.

Harvey Nichols isn’t the first brand to adopt this kind of content marketing approach – Net-a-Porter, ASOS, Topshop and Urban Outfitters’ websites all feature style guides and editorial features – but these are usually confined to a particular section of the site. Harvey Nichols’ takes the idea a step further, putting equal emphasis on content and product.

This does encourage longer browsing and may lead to customers stumbling on new collections, but it won’t be to everyone’s tastes. While the magazine format has proved successful for high street brands, there’s a careful balance to be struck by upmarket shops who want to offer more content and interaction while retaining a sense of luxury.

The response to Harvey Nichols’ new site was largely positive on Twitter but on retail and marketing blogs, it has divided opinion. Some likened the layout to low-cost templates, while others felt the focus on content was distracting.

But perhaps some of this criticism is a little unfair. There is still a widespread expectation that luxury brand sites should focus on white space and full-screen photos, but Harvey Nichols aim is to do more than showcase products. As Deveaux points out, Harvey Nichols is a brand that’s known for its cheeky sense of humour, and the new website clearly reflects this.

“Harvey Nichols positions itself as…being exclusive but accessible. One of the joys of the brand is that it differentiates itself with humour and wit. Our challenge is to ensure that the core values are communicated to the existing customer base at the same time as offering an online customer experience that appeals to the next generation of customers,” she explains.

Aesop’s identity for Toastits toasties

Aesop has created a playful pastel identity system for new Camden street food outlet, Toastits.

Toastits opens on Monday at Camden Lock Market and will serve a range of gourmet toasties, including the intriguingly named Bloody Mary. Owner Phillie Kenyon Shutes asked Aesop to create an identity that would convey an artisanal feel, but with a little added personality.

The brand logo features a ‘T’ in a slice of bread marked with grill lines. As Aesop designer Danii Maltman explains, it had to be simple, versatile and instantly recognisable.

The marque has so far been applied to coffee cups, napkins, wrapping paper, stationery and loyalty cards, which also feature a series of graphic patterns. Napkins and stationery play on the brand’s name, with phrases such as ‘nice raclette’ and ‘you’re drooling’, while cups are marked ‘D cup’ and ‘C cup’.

“The brief was very open – there were no limitations – which was great as we managed to put in a few discoverables that play on the Toastits name…[to] keep it playful and cheeky whilst still looking contemporary,” explains Maltman.

The pastel palette may seem an unusual choice for a sandwich stall, but Maltman says the aim was to stand out from the brightly coloured, hand written signs found around Camden Lock.

“The colour palette was [also] inspired by chalk colours from market chalk boards, but is ultimately young and fresh, which reflects the personality of the owner,” Maltman adds.

It’s a simple scheme but a distinctive one, and Maltman says the idea was to create “a scalable design that could start a bit more lo-fi and easily expand and grow as the business grows.”

Penguin to unveil new covers on WeTransfer

Iain Sinclair, American Smoke. Cover by Nathan Burton

Penguin Books has launched a partnership with WeTransfer where selected book covers for new titles will be showcased via the full screen backgrounds to the file transfer website…

The first series to be shown via the website is for the publisher’s Street Art Series of novels which feature covers by artists: ROA, gray318, Nathan Burton, Sickboy and 45rpm. The series actually launched last year – details on the ten participating artists are here – but today’s launch will pilot what looks to be an ongoing collaboration between the publisher and WeTransfer.

Zadie Smith, Embassy of Cambodia. Cover by gray318

For the Street Art series the covers are photographed as still lives, surrounded by objects which reflect the subject of the books. If users click on the image they are taken to Penguin’s online store.

While the project isn’t launching with an entire set of brand new cover designs (three from this series were released in June last year), the tie-up is an interesting way of promoting forthcoming editions. WeTransfer has 20m monthly users so the cover artwork – and the book, of course – has the potential to reach a wide audience. The next series of covers will be premiered on WeTransfer later this summer.

Nick Cave, And the Ass Saw the Angel. Cover by ROA

Zoë Heller, The Believers. Cover by Sickboy

Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End. Cover by 45RPM

WeTransfer have also recently collaborated with the British Fashion Council, designer Nelly Ben and Where’s Wally.

The art of bank note design

The Bank of England Museum’s latest exhibition offers a look at some fascinating items from its archives, including bank note test prints and sketches by designer Harry Ecclestone.

Curiosities from the Vaults: A Bank Miscellany is open until July 11 and features items collected by the bank since it was founded in 1694. Alongside paintings, rare ceramics and an 18th century sculpture of its emblem are a series of illustrations and tests for notes created by Ecclestone, who was the bank’s first in-house designer.

Top and above: Paste-up of Ecclestone’s Series D £10 note; the complete note (front and reverse)

Ecclestone worked for the bank for 25 years and was responsible for designing the ‘D’ series of notes, issued in 1970. A president of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers, he was awarded an OBE for his services in 1979, and he died in 2010.

Designing and printing notes is a complex process: to make counterfeiting as difficult as possible, specialised inks are produced on site and some images are engraved by hand onto metal plates, while others are created digitally and laser etched on to film. Watermarks are engraved using wax and, like the metal foil in bank notes, are embedded during the paper manufacturing process.

Intaglio and obverse litho test prints of the £10 note

Tests on display at the museum demonstrate the various stages of the printing process, which uses a mix of intaglio, letterpress and litho printing, while Ecclestone’s character sketches offer a rare glimpse at the early stages of bank note design.

Original sketch of Nightingale and a master drawing of the Scutari Barracks

Other items in the collection include high value notes signed by Nelson Mandela and George Eliot, a ballot box designed by architect John Soane and a leather trunk used for ‘carrying gold across deserts’, which is thought to have belonged to army officer TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). Lawrence was offered a job by the bank in 1934, a record of which is also on display.

Curiosities from the Vaults: A Bank Miscellany is open at the Bank of England Museum, Bartholomew Lane, London EC2R 8AH until July 11. For details see

Maclise Britannia £5 note

A thousand pound note signed by the Chosu Five, a group of Japanese nobility who studied at UCL in the 1800s after illegally leaving their home country.

Thousand pound bank note signed by author George Eliot

Wally Olins, a tribute

Wally Olins, co-founder of Wolff Olins and chairman of Saffron Brand Consultants, has died aged 83. CR editor Patrick Burgoyne pays tribute

The Financial Times once described Wally Olins as “the world’s leading practitioner of branding and identity” and it’s hard to disagree with that assessment. Certainly Wally didn’t as, in typical style, he placed it in a prominent position on his website.

Under the What I’m Like heading, he described himself thus: “I try to be direct and clear. I simply tell my clients the truth as I see it, without too much gloss or varnish because that’s what I’m there for. Of course it’s nice to be nice. But it’s also nice to be straight. I can’t stand people who don’t return phone calls and are generally sloppy, but apart from that I’m told I’m reasonable to work with. And I like having a bit of a laugh.”

Direct, intelligent and with a wickedly mischievous sense of humour, I’d say that sums Wally up to a T. He was one of those people with whom spending time was an absolute joy. He always had an opinion and would always let you know it. But he would do so with huge charm.



Wally began his working life in advertising. In the early 60s, he ran Ogilvy & Mather in what was then Bombay, living there for five years. It was the start of a life-long attachment to India, a country he loved and where he worked and taught extensively. In fact, the first I heard of his passing was from Rajesh Kejriwal, the founder of the design conference Design Yatra, who was his great friend and business partner.

In 1965, Wally co-founded Wolff Olins with Michael Wolff. The two of them would change not just the design industry but industry itself. Wolff Olins was perhaps the first design consultancy in Britain, in the sense that we now understand that term. It introduced the idea to UK corporate life that this thing called ‘brand’ was vitally important and that it influenced everything that organisations did and said about themselves.

Wolff and Olins’ relationship was likened to a marriage and like many marriages it would eventually break down with Wolff leaving the consultancy in 1983. In 2001, Wally also left and set up Saffron with a former Wolff Olins colleague, Jacob Benbunan. There, he continued to work with many of the world’s largest companies on branding and identity.

He also began to explore an interest in place branding, a field in which he was a pioneer and which he expounded on in his many books. Indeed, he became a prolific author on branding: his latest book, Brand New: The Shape of Brands to Come, launched last week.

Not everyone agreed with Wally on the positive contribution of brands to our world – Eye magazine, for example, ran a famously withering review of On Brand by academic Terry Eagleton. On our part, the March issue of CR featured a review of the new book by Nick Asbury which took issue with several of his key arguments. But Wally relished an argument and he was more than happy to engage with his critics. And he was not afraid to criticise the design industry either, referring to the larger design consultancies as “machines devised to produce mediocre rubbish” and calling some of their actions “despicable” in an interview in 2009 (see Design Yatra videos below)

I suspect that, for most of our readers, it is as co-founder of Wolff Olins that Wally will mostly be remembered, and rightly so. Anyone who currently earns a living advising or designing for brands owes Wally a debt of gratitude for his pioneering work in establishing the credibility and value of brand identity design.

From a personal point of view, I will always treasure the conversations I enjoyed with this brilliant and charming man. And I can thank both Wally and Michael for one of the highlights of my time at CR. In 2009, the pair were reunited for the first time since their split on stage at Design Yatra in Mumbai. I was fortunate enough to be asked to compere. Here’s what happened.






Olins in CR

Wally Olins, the Grand Old Man of Brand, by Nick Asbury, from CR April 2014

Wally Olins debates the branding ‘turf war’ between ad agencies and design consultancies with CHI+Partners’ Dan Beckett from our December 2011 issue


Statement from Saffron

“With immense sadness we announce the passing of our Chairman Wally Olins, who died on the 14th April after a short illness.

Anyone who ever met Wally will remember him well and those of us who knew him well will remember him forever. A man who lived four lifetimes in one, he was insatiably curious, infectiously charming and occasionally infuriatingly impatient!

A genuine pioneer, Wally was one of the leading individuals that helped carve out the business of branding – he would always say he did it ‘with colleagues’ but those of us that were lucky enough to have been his colleagues know that this is only partly true.

Oddly for a man who was so defined by his prolific talent, he will perhaps be remembered most for his incredible generosity and optimism. Whether advising a young student looking for advice on getting ahead in branding or advising presidents on ways to enhance their nation’s brand, Wally was always willing to give more than he expected to receive.

Incredibly, at 83 Wally was still able to manage to go out on a high with the release of his latest book ‘Brand New, published by Thames & Hudson’ only last week. Full of his characteristic wit, insight and humanity it’s arguably his best yet.

We miss him tremendously. And will continue to be inspired by him every day.”



We’d like to encourage CR readers to use the comment space below to share their memories of Wally Olins