Established in 1971, WPP is a multinational communications services conglomerate based in London, UK, that owns multiple companies in advertising, media, data and insight, public relations and public affairs, ecommerce, brand consulting, and health and wellness. Among its more well-known subsidiaries (for us creative folk) are Grey, J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy, Fitch, Landor, and Superunion. In writing this paragraph, Today I Learned that WPP stands for “Wire and Plastic Products”, which was a manufacturer of wire baskets and teapots that Sir Martin Sorrell bought a stake in in 1985 with the purpose of using it as the foundation on which to build an international advertising and marketing services group. Today, across its companies, it has 130,000 people in 112 countries and billed $71.7bn in 2017 — not bad for a wire basket company. This month, WPP introduced a new identity designed in collaboration by Landor and Superunion.
Superunion and Landor collaborated to create the new identity which represents WPP as a creative transformation company that is dynamic, connected and organised around the needs of its clients.
The logo is made up of many parts that combine to form the whole - a representation of WPP’s people, agencies, capabilities and markets that work together as one for clients.
On-screen it is designed to have a continuously changing form and colour, symbolising creative transformation in itself.
The old logo was bad and looked like a default serif typesetting submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office more than an actual logo. In its lackluster design it also amplified the sense of WPP being a company-gobbling company that wasn’t really concerned with the industries it gobbles companies in. The new logo makes the company look committed and involved in the creative and communication industries with a much more emotional expression — even if it’s still a company-gobbling company. It now at least does it in style. Without reading the explanation beforehand it was clear that the logo is meant to represent the many parts of WPP’s network and how it brings them all together — it’s Logo Concepts 101. The execution is fairly nice, with a decent deployment of the dots to form the contour of the custom font, WPP Bold, used throughout the identity. The logo looks better big as it suffers from lack of crispness at smaller sizes (as in the website) and I’m surprised there isn’t a small-use version.
The logo is activated through a colorful rendering that is some undeniably satisfying eye candy — both in static and animated forms. A lot of style with a sprinkling of substance, which is a balance that is probably just right. For a company so big, with so many assets, in so many industries and countries, it’s probably best to keep the conceptual aspect simple and broad while presenting a polished front.
The animation work is great. I love the smooth pulsing behavior of the dots as they expand and contract while changing colors. It’s just pretty to look at. It’s kind of Matrix-y in a more friendly way and, on the surface, it supports WPP’s new tagline of “A Creative Transformation Company” with a logo constantly in a state of transformation.
In static form, the renders look pretty but once they move away from still frames as in the posters directly above, the identity and ideas start to get a little cheesy and flimsy while the choice of the low x-height, Art Deco-ish typeface gives the applications a bit of a vintage aesthetic that makes them look somewhat old — although, on a more optimistic view, it can look like an interesting mix of old and new. The custom font feels very advertising-y, like something from the good old days of ad agencies. Perhaps one of the cool bold serifs in style today would have upped this a notch.
Overall, this is not as transcendental or emotionally charged as presented in the closing video above but it’s a definite improvement of what WPP had before and it successfully conveys creativity, technology, and excitement in a straightforward and visually engaging way.
Thanks to Damián A. Arce for the tip.