Wolff Olins uses raw materials and ancient crafts to build a new identity for Ubisoft’s flagship game, Anno

The global brand consultancy has partnered up with the video game publisher and global creative agency Wieden+Kennedy, to release the ancient city-building game’s first ever major rebrand.

Revealed in the build up to the game’s latest instalment Anno 117: Pax Romana, due to launch next year, Ubisoft’s rebrand of its flagship game aims to celebrate its core values with a new design ethos: ‘crafted with care’. The product of what some might call an unlikely collaboration with mega branding agency Wolff Olins, the new graphic identity for the game builds on its visual language inspired by ancient civilisations and classical periods. With 25 years of play and seven new instalments, Anno is seen as quite a Roman Empire-building classic in the world of strategy games, and since the recent brand director Haye Anderson has joined, the creation of the new masterbrand has been orchestrated with the intention of tapping into its spirit of craftsmanship and construction, forging a path for future versions of the game.

Tasked with “sparking a desire to build”, Wolff Olins has worked on an entirely new design system for the game’s visual world, with modernised 3D elements and a bespoke new brand mark. The agency hasn’t held back on creating a “handcrafted look and feel” for the game’s new masterbrand, making Anno’s classic ‘A’ symbol from scratch using raw materials. “We drew inspiration from historical crafts, using physical materials and traditional methods to imbue every aspect of the design system with meticulous detail and craftsmanship, capturing the wonder and beauty that has made Anno such an iconic game,” explains Wayne Deakin, global principal at Wolff Olins.

The new brand mark “has the ability to take on a multitude of material textures, nodding to the different worlds and ages the game can expand into”, continues Wayne. Hand-casting the new letterform and digitally translating it was a process that reflected the spirit of “meticulous detail” in the game’s play and a way of “celebrating true craftsmanship by creating a bridge between the real and digital worlds”, he says. For Ubisoft, this casted type is a symbol that “represents a collective mindset of the Anno community – fusing craft, the power of the human spirit and the ambition of building for future greatness”, explains the Ubisoft team.

Bringing on Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam to create Anno’s new strategy and launch campaign, the creative company has introduced the trailer for Anno: 117 Pax Romana: “We crafted a simple, yet powerful message to Anno fans worldwide: BUILD IT!”, says W+K’s creative directors Ed Olhagaray and Ramona Todoca. Ubisoft aimed to revolve the game’s new visual world “around themes of legacy and creation, connecting and galvanising its loyal community as well as new players”, says the press release.

As the common goal of all its players, the game publisher landed on ‘cultivating the joy of building’ as its new brand purpose for Anno, as this spirit of building “speaks to the time spent, the effort, the craft, and the progress” of the game, says Ubisoft. Whilst the launch has aligned with the build-up for the game’s new series, Wolff Olins’ Wayne Deakin concludes that one of the key drivers for the rebrand was to “celebrate the immense love and passion the community has for Anno as whole”.

GalleryWolff Olins: Anno (Copyright © Wolff Olins, 2024)

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Wolff Olins: Anno (Copyright © Wolff Olins, 2024)

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About the Author

Ellis Tree

Ellis Tree (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a junior writer in April 2024 after graduating from Kingston School of Art with a degree in Graphic Design. Across her research, writing and visual work she has a particular interest in printmaking, self-publishing and expanded approaches to photography.

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