Wolff Olins

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

Wolff Olins
TypeWholly Owned Subsidiary
IndustryBrand consultancy
Founded1965; 56 years ago (1965) in London, United Kingdom
FounderMichael Wolff
Wally Olins
Key people
Brian Boylan (Chairman)
Sairah Ashman (CEO)
Tim Allen (President, North America)
Number of employees
ParentOmnicom Group

It 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] However, despite costing £400,000 the logo was also largely criticised by the British public, being described as "puerile".[4]

Also in 2012, the Orange and London 2012 brands were included in a retrospective examining design from 1948 to 2012 at the V&A in London.[5]

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.[6] In 2018 Wolff Olins was named the most innovative design firm in the world by Fast Company.[7]


Wolff Olins was founded in Camden Town, London, in 1965 by designer Michael Wolff and advertising executive Wally Olins.[8] Wolff left the business in 1983, and Olins in 2001; Wolff is still active in the field of branding, and Olins died on 14 April 2014.[8] Wolff Olins currently has offices in London, New York City and San Francisco.

In 2002, Wolff Olins was selected by the British Library as a subject of their National Life Stories oral history project.[9]

In 2017, Sairah Ashman was appointed as the first female CEO of Wolff Olins.[10]


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).[11] Olins defined corporate identity as "strategy made visible", and the firm worked with companies including BOC (1967), The Beatles' 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), Odeon (1997), Heathrow Express (1998), and Tata Group (2000).


Some of Wolff Olins' work has received controversial reception.[12][13] Its piper design for BT in 1991 attracted a great deal of opposition.[14] The company was also responsible for the short-lived $110m (£75m) re-branding of PwC Consulting to Monday in 2002.[15] The launch of the London 2012 brand in 2007 was met with widespread public derision.[16] Design critic Stephen Bayley condemned the London 2012 Olympic Games logo as "a puerile mess, an artistic flop and a commercial scandal".[17]


  1. ^ "National Life Stories: An Oral History of Wolff Olins". Bl.uk. 30 November 2003. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  2. ^ "Wolff Olins". Design Is History. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  3. ^ "Design Museum".
  4. ^ Carlin, Brendan (3 June 2007). "Olympic chiefs under fire for 'puerile' logo". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  5. ^ "British Design 1948–2012: Innovation in the Modern Age". V&A.
  6. ^ "Wolff Olins Is No. 31 on Ad Age's Best Places to Work List", Ad Age, 26 March 2012.
  7. ^ "The World's Most Innovative Companies 2018, Design Sector". Fast Company. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  8. ^ a b Gomez-Palacio, Bryony; Vit, Armin (2009). Graphic Design, Referenced: A Visual Guide to the Language, Applications, and History of Graphic Design. Rockport Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59253-447-0.
  9. ^ "National Life Stories: An Oral History of Wolff Olins". Bl.uk. 30 November 2003. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  10. ^ "Wolff Olins appoints Sairah Ashman as first female CEO - Design Week". Design Week. 3 August 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  11. ^ Wally Olins, The Corporate Personality, Design Council, London, 1978 and Corporate Identity, Thames and Hudson, London, 1989
  12. ^ Stephen Bayleyweighs (5 April 2006). "Design expert Stephen Bayleyweighs up other contenders for Britain's lousiest logo | Media". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  13. ^ "Wolff Olins: Expectations Confounded". Creative Review. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  14. ^ Bayley, Stephen (10 June 2007). "Stephen Bayley: You can't fool the British people with a logo and an instant brand". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Monday name change for PwC". 10 June 2002. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  16. ^ April 2019, Nick Carson 09. "14 controversial moments in logo and brand design". Creative Bloq. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  17. ^ Olympic chiefs under fire for 'puerile' logo, The Telegraph, June 4, 2007.

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