Established earlier this year as a unified company but dating back to the late 1980s in its previous incarnations, Havas Helia is the unification of Havas EHS (a digital agency) and Havas Discovery (a data intelligence agency), both part of, you guessed it, Havas Worldwide. Helia “works with data to uncover patterns in human behaviour, mixing that with cultural understanding to inspire [their] creative ideas” which then “[inform their] architecture of digital communications platforms.” With eight offices around the world — including Chicago, New York, London and Shanghai — and 700 employees, that include 200 data scientists, Helia works with clients like Unilever, easyJet, IBM, Diageo and Sony PlayStation. The new identity was designed by Havas Worldwide New York.
The previous logo used the main Havas logo with a basic “EHS” below it. Nothing to get excited about and well within, I’m sure, the Havas brand guidelines. The new logo breaks away from the standards to establish its own identity. The core of the logo is a wordmark typeset in Reader Regular, a neo-grotesque I had never heard of and, given the shape of that “a”, I am glad I hadn’t. The paisley-shaped counterspace irks me quite a bit and the little kick at the end of the tail does as well. So, not a lot of love for the wordmark itself, even with the custom round tittle that replaces the default rectangle from the original. The logo is also, sort of, a circle or parts of a circle or an insinuated circle. It’s almost a non-logo.
How do we unify data and creative to establish one universal language? Like the sun to our solar-system, people are at the core of both data and creative.
helia, meaning ‘of the sun’ represents the sunlight and the variation of data. Inspired by the data analytics capabilities of helia, we developed an algorithm that creates unique data-informed expressions of the brand identity.
The visual language utilizes precise data inputs informed by the sunrise and sunset time cycles, as well as real-time weather and geographic information. As the final output, each piece, analog or digital, is marked with a unique data stamp.
I very rarely post work for creative agencies — specially those in the advertising world because I’m not really a fan — and my initial reaction was to not cover this but I was distracted enough by the pretty gradients, the time-stamping of each produced item, and the overall moodiness of the resulting materials, to make a Review of it. To be honest, this still all comes across as an effort to get some attention online and perhaps win something at Cannes. The voiceover in the video above is so advertising-y it comes with its own account executive. Despite my apprehensions, it worked its charm on me.
The printed materials have an undeniable appeal that makes Helia look edgy and creative to its clients and, more importantly, it serves as a showcase to represent that they can translate data into a visual manifestation. The bare-minimum layouts work best when paired with the circle gradients because when they are just against black there isn’t much to them.
There is a decent flexibility to the system and the multiple elements that can be used for the different promo items and I’m sure will come in handy for client presentations — if I came into a conference room and there were black balloons with my consultant’s logo on them I would be enthused. Overall, this is an apt identity for a data-driven digital agency.