NB Studio rebrands media mega-agency Wavemaker, using a little orange dot as a graphic “provocateur”
The icon is a rogue orange circle shaking things up in a world of rectangles. This features as the core feature across the identity’s wordmark, motion graphics and more.
- Jenny Brewer
- 23 July 2020
- Reading Time
- 2 minute read
Wavemaker is the second largest media agency in the world, with over 7,000 employees in 90 markets and clients including Mondelez, L’Oréal and Colgate-Palmolive. Yet for its rebrand, it looked to an external design studio, NB, to see its image with fresh eyes. Core to the brand concept is a small detail of its new wordmark – the dot in the ‘r’ letterform – which has come to characterise the company and symbolise its mission of “positive provocation”. A rogue circle in a world of rectangles, the dot appears across the identity in graphics and animations, knocking over stacked blocks and generally acting disruptively, a clever device to embody the agency’s approach.
The rebrand started as a quieter refresh after a new CEO joined the company, NB creative director Nick Finney tells It’s Nice That. “They had a new ambition to get things done in a new way.” While Wavemaker’s creative and strategy teams worked on a new expression of the brand proposition, NB worked on auditing the current brand identity and coming up with ways to update it, though he says it was originally a “don’t touch the logo project”. Then when the proposition of “positive provocation” was presented to NB, Finney says their response was “you can go further”. Pitching this new identity alongside another subtler, safer route, Wavemaker went for the braver option and NB embarked on a full rebrand.
The logotype, icon and animations were developed in tandem, Finney says, where the starting point was to pare back the amount of orange used in the branding. “It was reduced to this ball (the dot icon) which unofficially became known as the ‘provocateur’,” he says. The design team looked at how this could impact visuals, “bouncing into scenes,” knocking over dominoes and representing a brand behaviour. Animations for comms and Wavemaker’s own pitches show the orange dot rolling into monochromatic patterns and shaking things up.
Simultaneously, the designers explored different typographic choices, aiming to convey a more “elegant and graceful” feel that communicated craft. They were also looking for a typeface that had dominoes “hidden in it”. Eventually they found BW Gradual Extra Bold from Branding with Type, a chunky geometric typeface that fitted perfectly with both concepts, and adapted it to add the orange ball and fit identity. This is supported by typefaces Neue Haas Grotesk Text Pro and Georgia Pro.
These images show a small selection of the complicated identity built for Wavemaker, which provides the agency’s designers with a toolkit to build anything from pitch decks to social media posts and ads. According to Finney, Wavemaker are also adding giant orange spherical sculptures to their offices.