• Transform magazine
  • September 17, 2019


Collaborative future for WPP's brand and holdings

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Founders have an impact on their businesses beyond the bottom line. They can set the tone for corporate culture, inspire the vision for the future and create a public persona for the organisation. That had been the case with Sir Martin Sorrell and communications conglomerate WPP.

Sorrell stepped down earlier this year, ending his tenure as the longest-serving FTSE 100 chief exec. Shortly before that, Superunion – the mega-agency composed of Brand Union, Lambie-Nairn, Addison Group, VBAT and the Partners – was formed, shaking up the group’s brand and corporate comms holdings. Change has also meant that 3,500 jobs are expected to be cut from its 134,000-strong workforce and 200 offices consolidated. On the advertising and media sides, consolidation has also been the name of the game over the past year.

But WPP has been built on solid foundations. Change may alter it, but it has plans for its future.

To move toward that future, a rebrand was required. The group put its sharpest brand minds to work. Landor and Superunion collaborated on a new visual identity for the company. “Our ambition was to present WPP with the same energy and creativity that we offer to our clients right across the company. There’s a lot of pride and ambition in WPP that is now united under a strong and dynamic brand identity,” says global CEO of Superunion, Jim Prior.

The brand has not only embraced a new design direction, but a new positioning. Its previous serif, caps, black-on-grey corporate wordmark was understated, letting the agency brands themselves shine. But at a time of change – and a time at which corporate culture is becoming more important in terms of the investment and employment audiences – WPP’s brand, too, needed to change.

The result is a brand focused on collaboration and transformation. Jane Geraghty, global CEO of Landor says, “WPP has always been transformative – bringing together the best people and ideas to meet the needs of our clients. We now have an evolved brand and expression of purpose that better reflects who we are as a company, our collective capabilities, and what we offer.”

The pointillist wordmark is visually intriguing – though ever so slightly reminiscent of a Lite Brite – but it is on screen where it really makes its mark. Designed to be ever changing, the online applications shift shape and colour while undulating, bringing credence to a brand positioned on collaboration and transformation. The wordmark’s many points symbolise the combination of all of WPP’s strengths into one united whole.

The change ushers in a new era, both visually and in terms of business objectives, for an organisation founded and built by a now-departed CEO.