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Brand Addicted Agency: An Homage to Branding
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
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Design and advertising agency W&Cie recently opened a new office in Paris; its new visual identity and office design earned the agency a Silver Design Lion at the recent Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Powerful, ambitious, and wholly relevant, W&Cie’s new identity is a tribute to branding.

It’s both sweet and appropriate for an agency to honor brands, as its business directly relates to brands’ individual identities. The displays and installations in the new W&Cie office feature some of the most powerful and iconic brand identities, paying homage to the history of the industry. The agency has even taken it a step further, incorporating these iconic brand images into its own corporate identity, “to emphasize, with a touch of humor, how much [its] people are dedicated to the brands they work for.”

One wall features an “entomological” exhibit, a “Bestiary of Brands,” displaying and labeling a variety of iconic brand logo animals like a specimen display in a museum. The glass walls enclosing the offices feature a virtually endless line of brand names. A massive mural titled “The Brandeleïev Periodic Table of Elements” replaces the traditional letters of the chemical elements in Mendeleev’s periodic table with the appropriate letters in a variety of brands’ identity fonts. Gender-specific brand names and logos are used to label the office’s restrooms (think “Ken” and “Barbie”). A large sculpture of the Bauhaus logo, “the brand of brands,” hangs from the building’s ceiling. The agency’s own branded notebook features the letter “W” — the agency’s icon — isolated from variety of brands' identity fonts (think the “W” in the Warner Brothers logo and the “W” in the Walt Disney logo).

It’s all attractive and well-executed — after all, it won a Silver Lion — but viewers’ responses have been a bit mixed. The biggest concern is understandably the fact that W&Cie did not create these identities. As graphic designer and art director Matt Steel wrote, “this seems to be heavily showcasing — and riffing on — work done by other people. I’d like to see more of the agency’s actual client work. This ‘identity’ doesn’t tell me much about W&Cie.” Trevor Woods suggested that the agency is “using other people’s creative work to lead people to assume they are extremely creative themselves.” On the other hand, web designer and developer Juan Ojeda explained, “they’ve taken the interior of their workspace and really turned it into a focused yet inspirational creative environment. It must be much easier to create brands when you’re surrounded by excellent visual examples all day…they’ve allowed this to serve a function rather than being a boast to their awesome skills.”

W&Cie described the project simply as “a tribute to the big brands all around us — with a twist” (titled “Brand Addicted Agency”). Regardless of its goal for the project, the agency has created a visually stimulating and thoughtful homage to branding.

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About the Author
Kaitlin T. Gallucci is a New York based direct and digital marketing strategist. She tweets here.
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