Wolff Olins

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Wolff Olins
Type Wholly Owned Subsidiary
Industry Brand consultancy
Founded London 1965 (1965)
Founder(s) Michael Wolff
Wally Olins
Headquarters London
New York City
Key people Brian Boylan (Chairman)
Karl Heiselman (Chief Executive Officer)
Employees 150
Parent Omnicom Group
Website http://www.wolffolins.com/

Wolff Olins is a brand consultancy, based in London, New York City and Dubai. Founded in 1965, it now employs 150 designers, strategists and account managers, and has been part of the Omnicom Group since 2001.

The company specialises in creating positive social impact for clients, developing brand experiences, creatively led business strategies, and visual identity systems and has worked in sectors including Technology, Culture, Retail, Energy & Utilities, Media, and Non-profit.[1][2]

In 2012, the London 2012 brand, which was developed by Wolff Olins in 2007, was included in Extraordinary Stories about Ordinary Things, an exhibition of design that has shaped the modern world at The Design Museum in London.[3]

Also in 2012 the Orange and London 2012 brands were included in a retrospective examining design from 1948 - 2012 at the V&A in London.[4]

In 2012, the firm was recognised by The Sunday Times as being one of the Best Small Companies to work for and by Ad Age as one of the Best Places to Work in media and marketing.[5]


Wolff Olins was founded in Camden Town, London, in 1965 by designer Michael Wolff and advertising executive Wally Olins. Wolff left the business in 1983, and Olins in 2001, though both are still active in the field of branding. Over the years, Wolff Olins has opened offices in Hamburg, Paris, San Francisco, Madrid and Lisbon, all of which subsequently closed. In 1998, the company opened an office in New York, and ten years later in Dubai.

In 2002, Wolff Olins was selected by the British Library as a subject of their National Life Stories oral history project.[6]


From 1965 to the early 1990s, Wolff Olins developed corporate identities for various large European companies. During this time Olins published The Corporate Personality (1978) and Corporate Identity (1989).[7] Olins defined corporate identity as "strategy made visible", and the firm worked with companies including BOC (1967), Apple Records (1968), Bovis (1971), Volkswagen's VAG (1978), 3i (1983), Prudential (1986) and BT (1991).

During the 1990s, Wolff Olins focused more on corporate branding. The company's work during that time includes First Direct (1989), Orange (1994), Heathrow Express (1998), and Tata Group (2000).

More recent work has included Tate (2000),[8] GE (2004),[9] Unilever (2004),[10] Sony Ericsson (2006),[11] (Product) RED (2006),[12] London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (2007),[13] New York City (2007),[14] Mercedes-Benz (2009),[15] Tata DoCoMo (2009),[16] AOL (2009),[17] Target's Up and Up brand (2009),[18] PricewaterhouseCoopers (2010),[19] Asian Art Museum (2011),[20] the Smithsonian (2011),[21] NBCUniversal (2011),[22] USA Today (2012)[23] and Windows (2012).[24]


Throughout its history, Wolff Olins has presented controversial work.[25][26] Its piper design for BT in 1991 attracted a great deal of opposition. The company was also responsible for the short-lived $110m (£75m) re-branding of PwC Consulting to Monday in 2002. The launch of the London 2012 brand in 2007 was met with widespread public derision. Design critic Stephen Bayley condemned the London 2012 Olympic Games logo as "a puerile mess, an artistic flop and a commercial scandal".[27]


  1. ^ "National Life Stories: An Oral History of Wolff Olins". Bl.uk. 2003-11-30. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  2. ^ "Wolff Olins". Design Is History. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  3. ^ http://designmuseum.org/exhibitions/current-exhibitions.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/exhibition-british-design/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ http://adage.com/article/special-report-best-places-to-work-2012/wolff-olins-31-ad-age-s-places-work-list/233668/
  6. ^ "National Life Stories: An Oral History of Wolff Olins". Bl.uk. 2003-11-30. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  7. ^ Wally Olins, The Corporate Personality, Design Council, London, 1978 and Corporate Identity, Thames and Hudson, London, 1989
  8. ^ "How effective are the Tate logos?". Logo Design Love. 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  9. ^ Rountree, Kristen. "Wolff Olins Becomes Lead Branding Agency for GE". Adweek. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  10. ^ "Unilever icons explained". Logo Design Love. 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  11. ^ Godsell, Melanie (2006-12-20). "Agency of the Year: Design Agency of the Year — Wolff Olins — Marketing news". Marketing magazine. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  12. ^ "Reviews — ProBono - (RED)". Identityworks. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  13. ^ "Wolff Olins' Intuitive Branding". Businessweek.com. 2008-02-06. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  14. ^ "I ♥ Wolff Olins — Brand New". Underconsideration.com. 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  15. ^ "DesignThinkers 2011 | Todd Simmons: Blurring the Line Between Brand and Business". Designthinkers.com. 2011-10-28. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  16. ^ "New India Cellular Provider Goes Geometric — Brand New". Underconsideration.com. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  17. ^ "Exclusive Interview: Wolff Olins and AOL on Why AOL's New Brand Is From the Future". Fast Company. 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  18. ^ June 7, 2011 (2011-06-07). "Brand Innovator 2011 > Tim Murray — Brand Innovators". Brand Packaging. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  19. ^ "The Best and Worst Identities of 2010, Part II: The Best — Brand New". Underconsideration.com. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  20. ^ Montgomery, Angus (2011-09-29). "Wolff Olins rebrands Asian Art Museum with upside-down ‘A’ | News". Design Week. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  21. ^ Gosling, Emily (2011-12-19). "Wolff Olins works on Smithsonian rebrand | News". Design Week. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  22. ^ "The NBC Peacock is Gone and Rightfully So". underconsideration.com. Retrieved 24 June 2012. 
  23. ^ "USA TODAY for Tomorrow". Under Consideration. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  24. ^ "Windows — Wolff Olins". Retrieved 27 October 2012. 
  25. ^ Stephen Bayleyweighs (2006-04-05). "Design expert Stephen Bayleyweighs up other contenders for Britain's lousiest logo | Media". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  26. ^ "Wolff Olins: Expectations Confounded". Creative Review. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  27. ^ Olympic chiefs under fire for 'puerile' logo

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