We wanted to celebrate those creative design agencies in a list of the ones we’d consider the best! We’ve also thrown in some comments about our understanding of their work … all from the sidelines. We hope it inspires you.
You will find Pentagram in the number one spot of a lot of lists. An incredibly talented group of designers, they are one of the only big players to be owned by the designers themselves.
One of the things you’ll notice whilst looking through their portfolio is the variety of visual styles. They truly look to establish a visual tone for each project that works for the company they are branding, rather than following design trends or stamping a house style onto every design problem.
Collins are fun! Their ideas page on their website is a case in point. Their use of a range of illustration and photography styles means that each project feels unique and imaginative. Many of their projects are bold and creative. When looking through their portfolio you’ll notice there is a clear understanding of target audience, for example, their More than Magic project oozes teenage girl!
Gretel are all about collaboration. They are known for coming alongside in-house teams to solve problems through brand at a corporate level. They will dig deep to get to the heart of the problem rather than produce surface level design work. Their portfolio is an interesting view from a strategic level, we recommend looking into Nike’s project as well as the National Geographic.
Gretel are also pretty good at copywriting. We are big fans of the New York Times cooking project for its understanding of audience, and the tone created by the copy.
Design Studio have done a great service to the branding world by documenting their branding process. Airbnb were one the first projects to be documented step by step, and a website has also been setup to highlight some of the decisions made by their in-house design team. Airbnb have also since launched a digital toolkit for freelance illustrators working with other branding agencies called Tyrus.
A fairly new design agency started by Jessica Walsh (of Sagmeister & Walsh fame) &Walsh is certainly bold! They spend a large proportion of their time on self-initiated projects for social causes that are close to their heart. The majority of their team are women (similar to a dozen eggs!) which they speak about often on their site – well worth a read to get insight into the industry.
Similar to Collins, Koto has a portfolio full of colour, creativity and loads of illustration. They are based in Berlin, London and Los Angeles, and glancing through their portfolio you can pick up on cultural threads of all three!
Spin definitely have a house style! Attracting art galleries, high end products, and projects with an editorial edge. If you love kinetic type, then Spin are the design agency for you!
Unfortunately, North’s website isn’t as easy to navigate than the others. But, you’ll notice projects that have obviously been strategically managed with a commercial edge. Take a look at their Instagram profile for loads of well executed design.
South Bank Centre, Co-op, and St Pancras Hotel are all clients of North.
Wolff Olins is the design agency founded by Michael Wolff and Wally Olins. They are some of the go-to people if you want to learn more about the theory of corporate identity. Wally Olins in particular has written some great books on brand; On Brand, The Brand Handbook and Brand New. Their views page on their website is also worth a read if branding is your thing.
All about the luxury! Pared back work with loads of white space, beautiful typography and the odd gold detail. Out of all the branding agencies in this list, Construct is the one that seems to focus most of the detail of the physical. From the bags at Claridges to the boxes at Boodles.
We love the projects at Claridges when image is involved. The quirky sketches found in the Corinthia Hotels brand, and the stunning photographs of EPI 1959, and if you want even more glamour, take a look at the Hill and Friends fashion launch.
The work Super Union has done for the London Symphony Orchestra pretty much sums up their portfolio – often a singular idea, an impactful image and loads of movement! Dream Hack is similar and well worth a look. Big on strategic thought, and ensuring the bottom line is always considered, Super Union are one of the main players in the world of brand.
Landor & Fitch can be found in 29 of the major cities across the globe, and as branding agencies go, their work is pretty international! An interesting case study for what works in which territory. So Sri Lanka may not have worked in the UK, and M&G less likely to work in Tanzania!
Otherway is a branding agency that sits closer to the ‘fine art’ end of the spectrum, with more quirky projects that work very well in an urban millennial life style! Beautiful colour palettes, great balances between type and pattern and dashes of humour.
A warning; Without’s website is definitely an assault on the senses (at the time of writing!) but you’ll find a group of designers who are playful and enjoying creating design. You get the sense that a lot of Without’s clients are long term ones, which is always good to see.
The branding agencies found in London often feel quite similar to each other, but the variety of without’s portfolio is a definite plus. From the bonkers Wahaca rebrand to the subtle design decisions found in the Darwin and Wallace branding.
Bold, bright colours and more corporate branding could be a way to describe DixonBaxi. They understand the audiences they interact with, and often create identities that are deceptively simple. Pluto TV, the 2020 premier league and Channel 4 are all clients.
The design world have been talking a lot about Burger King’s latest rebrand by JKR. We think they’ve done a great job at extended the previous brand and ensured the design felt rooted in the heritage of the brand. Jones Knowles Ritchie use brand words really successfully within their design solutions. Of that project:
Often, Studio Build’s projects have an editorial vibe with a very good eye for typography and layout. Their clients are often more editorial, with Arjowiggins Creative Papers and Fontsmith amongst the ones showcased on their website.
Whilst Publicis Poke is a branding agency, their work is often more closely aligned to advertising. The activations used are engaging, particularly the Piccadilly lights live coding for BT. More campaign led branding, they do a good job of launching new brands with a bang! Take a look at ‘Don’t eat Takis‘ for a good example!
Purpose makes the list due to their brand strategy as much as anything else. Whilst at times the amount of brand strategy implemented would be overwhelming for a small business, the processes used are good ones! The design council is a case in point, with all stakeholders participating in the creation of the brand.
Purpose often create brands that are driven by the commercials, and might not always have that wow factor. Having said that, the MRS rebrand is rather lovely!
Dro5a is a tricky one to talk about, now part of Accenture, their work now feels much more corporate, but their work previously had a artsy, fun vibe that has fed into some of their more recent projects. Coal’s Drop Yard is a project we love. Slightly awkward (like all good artsy brands are!) but bold and creative.
Karma Kitchen is another brand that has that artsy vibe!
We hope you enjoyed the branding agencies list – worth book marking to delve into their portfolios over a nice cup of tea when you have free moment.