Wolff Olins British Design Studio

Billboard for Tate modern - example of branding
Billboard for Tate modern – example of branding

Wolff Olins has offices in London, Madrid, Lisbon, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo, and has been a leading British design agency for nearly four decades, with a special focus on corporate identity and branding. It is a subsidiary of Omnicom Group. Founded in London by Michael Wolff and Wally Olins (1930–2014), the latter has done a lot to publicise the discipline of corporate identity design and has published many books on the subject. He made it clear in these texts that good corporate identity work entails a broader and deeper understanding of individual corporate business practises, patterns of behaviour, and goals than logotypes and visual imagery.


The Q8 oil business (1984), British Telecom (BT, 1984), Orange telecommunications (1994), Honda, Renault, the Heathrow Express train (1998), the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Tate Gallery were among the consultancy’s identity strategy clients (1998 onwards). Automotive manufacturing, business and financial services, consumer goods and services, the cultural sectors, education, healthcare, manufacturing, information technology and media, and transportation are among Wolff Olins’ clients.

BT’s brand management initiative exemplified Wolff Olins’ approach to corporate branding, resulting in enhancements to BT’s ethos and partnership with the public it represents. The Portuguese Tourist Board, the 2004 Athens Olympic Committee, the South West Development Agency, the North Staffordshire Design Initiative (2003), and the World Gold Council are all examples of companies that have taken this approach.

The Tate Gallery’s identity work, which started in 1998 with the aim of creating a new brand that would tie together its collections, three existing sites, and a fourth site that would open in 2000, exemplifies the kind of effect Wolff Olins’ identity work can have. The ‘Tate’ brand and four galleries were born as a result: Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives. In its first year, 2000–01, the Tate received 7.5 million visitors, up 3.5 million from the previous year.


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Woodham, J. M. (2006). A dictionary of modern design. Oxford University Press.

Additional Reading

Olins, W. (2014). Brand new: The shape of brands to come. Thames & Hudson.

Olins, W. (2004). Wally Olins on Brand. Thames & Hudson.

Olins, W. (2017). Wally Olins: The brand handbook. Thames & Hudson.

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