Package & Design magazine features Landor: An inside look

26 offices in 19 countries. Always one Landor.

This year Landor celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Walter Landor, born in Munich, Germany, in 1913, was greatly influenced by the Bauhaus and Werkbund design movements as a young designer. In 1941 he established Walter Landor & Associates in San Francisco, where he pioneered many of the research, design, and consulting methods that are now standard across the branding industry. Today, Walter Landor is recognized as one of the first champions of branding, design, and visual identity, especially as these practices apply to commercial business strategy.

In 1964, Walter Landor moved the company’s headquarters onto the Klamath ferryboat, which he purchased at auction and docked in San Francisco Bay. It was a bold move, and the Klamath quickly became renowned for groundbreaking creative work and for the myriad cultural luminaries who loved to visit—Andy Warhol, Tom Wolfe, Issey Miyake, Marshall McLuhan, and many others. Although Landor’s San Francisco office moved onshore in the mid-1980s, the Klamath remains an important symbol of creative thinking for Landor employees to this day.

In 1967, Landor opened its first international office in Rome, Italy. In the coming years it continued to expand, founding offices in Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France. In Greater China, Landor established its presence with offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai. Today, Landor has 26 offices in 19 countries around the world, with an international network that employs global perspective, insight, and speed to help its clients thrive.

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Landor has created thousands of brands that people encounter every day. Some of its past and current clients include Aeroflot, Axiata, Barclays, Bayer, BMW, BP, Danone, Etihad Airways, FedEx, Garuda Indonesia, GE, HSBC, Jin Jiang Group, Kraft Heinz, Levi Strauss, LG Group, Marriott International, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Pernod Ricard, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Sony, Suntory, Taj Group, Tata Group, and Uni-President.

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In 2015, Landor’s network earned a record 13 Cannes Lions, a CLIO, seven D&AD pencils, and five Transform awards, and was inducted into the Rebrand Hall of Fame. It was the world’s most awarded branding agency at the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Last year, Landor released The Agility Paradox, a global research study demonstrating that today’s most successful brands are agile brands. It describes how managers of agile brands are embracing seemingly opposing strategies for their brands: staying true to the brand’s core while constantly evolving to keep pace. Consumers—particularly millennials—expect and prefer brands to exhibit these contradictory qualities. This “agility paradox” demands a new brand management model that abandons some of the long-held axioms of brand governance and replaces them with six key behaviors of agility: principled, adaptive, open, responsible, multichannel, and global. This approach allows brands to succeed in a world rife with accelerating markets, disruptive strategies, multiplying touchpoints, and ever-savvier consumers.

Recently, Package & Design interviewed Lois Jacobs; Luc Speisser, managing director of Landor Paris and Geneva; Tristan Macherel, executive creative director of Landor Paris; and David Mineyama-Smithson, executive creative director of Landor Greater China.

Agile brands are:


Principled: Agile brands are clear about what they stand for and make a strong promise to their customers.

Adaptive: They are both nimble in addressing risk and quick to seize opportunity.

Open: They connect with consumers on an emotional level, engaging them in dialogue about what role the brand plays in their lives.

Responsible: They act responsibly in order to solidify connections between brands and consumers.

Multichannel: They consider the entire spectrum of possibilities, decide which platforms and experiences are appropriate, and tailor their approach to each.

Global: They watch for competitors, critiques, and cutting-edge ideas from every corner of the world.

Lois Jacobs RT V2

Interview with Lois Jacobs

As the chief executive officer of Landor, what do you enjoy the most and what part is the most difficult?

For me, working at Landor is exciting because I am surrounded by clever and creative people working in teams that combine robust strategic thought with mouthwatering creative execution. There is a constant flow of ideas and new perspectives that engenders a fast-moving, intense, and stimulating environment.

The most difficult part of my job is ensuring that we at Landor keep pace with the quickly changing world around us by sharing knowledge among our offices in the 21 countries where we operate. Everything we do in one office can be of use to teams in another office. It’s essential for us to remain current and connected so that we can offer the best advice to our clients in all markets across all industries.

As we know, Landor has 26 branches around the world. Other than two acquisitions, all branches established after the head office were designed to maintain the unifying culture of Landor. Could you tell us about the corporate culture of Landor?

Our culture is indeed very important to us and even with our acquisitions, we wouldn’t enter into a partnership if we did not believe that we had shared cultural aspirations. Landor’s 26 offices function as one Landor, providing clients and employees around the world with similar Landor experiences and exceptional Landor quality.

We make a conscious effort to foster a unifying Landor culture through global communications and events such as Walter’s Day, which celebrates our company’s heritage and our founder Walter Landor; Globetrotters, a program that gives employees the opportunity to work abroad in a different Landor office for three months; Landor Creative Champions, which celebrates and shares outstanding work from across our network while giving Landor employees a chance to challenge and inspire one another; and the Big Share, a quarterly teleconference where we communicate news to every employee and generate live discussions across our offices.

Of course, each office retains a unique feel and flavor that reflects its local culture, but remains true to one Landor overall. It is said that “in dealing with problems, every Landor international employee uses the same tools and thinks with the same Landor approach.”

We’re wondering: What are the Landor tools and approach?

We have many, but two of the most valuable and most frequently used tools are prototyping and experience mapping.

Through prototyping, we help clients make fast, informed decisions by showing them visual mockups of potential strategic and creative directions and helping them understand the implications of their choices. Prototypes can take many forms, but the goal is always to get brands to market quickly with more certainty of success.

Experience mapping enables us to show clients the many ways their brands can interact with their audiences. We think about the brand in very human terms: How does it look, feel, talk, behave, and even dream? The answers to these questions help us create a 360-degree, holistic brand experience.

Rumor has it that a special cultural phenomenon exists among Landor’s high-level management: Many of them left the company for a while only to return years later. Is that true? If so, how did it come to be a phenomenon? Does Landor actually encourage it?

It’s certainly true that some of our employees have left and come back. Some leave to gain experience with other types of companies or with clients directly, but we’re often pleased to welcome them into the fold once again.

How do the 26 branches of Landor work together? Does the work of each branch need to be checked by the head office? How does Landor maintain the uniformity and high quality of the branches at an international level?

We are organized into five regions—North America, EMEA, Greater China, SEAPJ, and LATAM, and the regional heads meet four times each year. However, all of our offices collaborate regularly regardless of region, sharing global perspectives, cultural insights, resources, and work. For example, the hospitality brands Tangram and Nuo were both projects borne of collaboration between our Paris and China teams.

We certainly don’t review every project or action at the corporate level. It is important to us that we have the best talent in every country where we operate. Our clients know that if they go to Landor, they’ll receive excellent work and a consistent approach regardless of location. To help with that connectivity we have different communities and practices that operate across regions. For example, lead strategists in every region meet virtually several times during the year to share new thinking and ensure that tactics and approaches are being communicated across offices.

Sometimes we set up a project across multiple offices with the intent of working faster, and teams pass files from one office to another as workdays begin and end. We call this “the 25th hour.” It enables us to not only work more quickly, but also ensures that our work includes regional insights and has global appeal. This works because we are all aligned on the basic principles of building agile brands.

Tell us about your research, The Agility Paradox. How do you carry out your idea of “creating agile brands” in your projects? Any feedback from your clients? Could you please give some examples?

The Agility Paradox began because we wanted to better understand how to keep brands competitive in today’s technologically advanced, fast-moving world. We embarked on a global study using millennial consumer research and proprietary data from BrandAsset® Valuator (BAV), the world’s largest and most enduring study of brands with over 20 years of data.

Branding has never been as important to commercial success as it is now, but we believe that traditional approaches to brand management have become out-of-date. Our study showed that agile brands are the most successful brands, so brand managers have to adapt their traditional management model to ensure that agility is a primary focus. Through our research we learned that six key behaviors indicate a brand’s agility; namely, its ability to be principled, adaptive, open, responsible, multichannel, and global.

Brands like Dyson and Alibaba display many of the agile traits. Dyson strives to be constantly inventive as it grows its product line while remaining true to its underlying brand promise of delivering innovative, well-engineered products. In this way it is both principled and adaptive. Meanwhile Alibaba, the fourth-ranked brand on our Chinese top 10 list, demonstrates open behavior—for example, it listened to consumers’ concerns about e-commerce and responded by creating the Alipay platform.

For our clients, The Agility Paradox and its findings have resonated strongly. The agile behaviors are leading many of our clients to reconsider their current brand management models, forcing them to acknowledge that the days of rigid decision making are over. Being agile and adaptive, open and collaborative, all while remaining true to your core are the kind of behaviors consumers expect from today’s brands.

Landor used to be not only a design center but also a social hub. Do you hold social events and parties for celebrities now?

No, we don’t hold as many parties today because we live in different times. But we always strive to bring new ideas and innovative thinking to our clients. We hold a Wake Up with Landor event series each year, providing an intimate setting to discuss our latest points of view with clients and colleagues.

What’s the biggest challenge for Landor at present?

Landor has long been a pioneer in branding and we are constantly innovating. Being on the forefront of the latest trends and technology is a challenge, but with acquisitions like motion design studio ManvsMachine and innovation agency NorthandSouth, we continue to move forward and anticipate our clients’ needs.

Please describe a typical day for yourself at work.

The best thing about my job is that I have no typical day. Certainly I always start with email (doesn’t everyone?) and I focus on that several times a day—I’m an empty inbox kind of person. About half of our work is project-based, so I always check in to see what new opportunities may have surfaced overnight.

Every week I meet virtually with one of my regional presidents to get an in-depth update on what’s going on in their region. Video conferencing is a wonderful thing, making for much more productive and engaging meetings because all parties are visible to one another and have to focus more intently. Talent and clients are always at the top of the agenda on those calls.

I commute every month between London and New York, spending equal time in each location. I also travel to many of our other offices, always attempting to meet with our clients in those particular markets. Client meetings are always so interesting: We could be talking about anything from splitting off a division of a major company or creating a new brand extension for a major soft drinks manufacturer, to branding a real estate development or revisiting brand architecture for a group of consumer laundry brands. Landor’s scope of work across both consumer and B2B brands is something that is endlessly interesting. Before I leave any given office, I’m also sure to stop in and see our latest creative work.

I talk several times a day with our COO/CFO, as I’m always keen to know how we are tracking against our plans for the year. In addition, we’re part of WPP, the world’s largest communications services group with 3,000 offices in 112 countries, and our fiscal reporting for them is both regular and robust.

Often, though, the best part of my day is on the plane. This is where I get my best ideas that evolve my thinking and solve problems. I’m not sure why, but I love the atmosphere of being unavailable and disconnected from every office. In the air I find perspective and clarity—something which can get lost in the excitement of everyday life.


Today’s car buyers are a savvy bunch—80 percent report having all the information they need before stepping into a dealership. To reach these connected consumers, Landor helped BMW shift gears from the traditional sequential sales model to one focused on relationship and brand building. Reimagining the car-buying experience, Landor mapped out various customer journeys, pinpointing crucial steps before, during, and after purchase. Our findings inspired nine interactive retail formats that transition the consumer from one-time buyer to lifelong BMW owner. Concepts are still rolling out, including the Brand Store in Brussels, the City Sales Outlet in Rome, and the Experience Centers in Seoul and Shanghai.


Wait: The perfect time for a perfect tea
An entrepreneur came to Landor with a new idea: tea that tastes incomparably better than any other. There was only one problem—he didn’t know how to sell the concept. Origins, tradition, and quality are claimed by many brands, so Landor was tasked with differentiating Wait. Landor discovered that the perfect tea needs the perfect infusion time, so it created a brand that celebrates patience as the ultimate luxury—inviting people to enjoy the wait. Wait’s messaging and design position it uniquely in the high-end tea market, allowing it to successfully sell at a higher price while offering quality to consumers. Wait won two D&AD pencils and three Cannes Lions in 2015.

Miss Chhotee’s

Miss Chhotee’s range of home-style sauces was born from its creator’s love of food, travel, and art. Landor’s label design takes inspiration from the patterns intrinsic to the art and architecture of the countries where the sauces originate, and uses the ingredients found in each recipe to bring these graphics to life. Miss Chhotee’s unique label designs create rapid on-shelf recall for shoppers while also appealing to Indian consumers who crave global flavors. Landor’s work for Miss Chhotee’s won best visual communication and packaging at the CII Awards 2015, two Blue Elephants at the Kyoorius Design Awards, and the award of excellence from Communication Arts.

Citroën DS

While it’s rare for luxury vehicle spin-offs to share the name of their parent brand, Citroën decided to place a high-risk bet. After spending five years with Landor repositioning its brand as upmarket and innovative, Citroën believed it could credibly launch an upscale line sharing the Citroën identity. The Citroën DS brand blends forward-thinking technology with attention to detail, creating a luxurious and refined high-end brand. When the line launched, the risk paid off: Premium sales doubled in just two years. Flagship stores called DS World were built in Paris and Shanghai to provide custom services and experiences, and were ultimately awarded the Grand Prix at the 2012 Grand Prix Stratégies du Design.

City of Melbourne

Named the third-best Australian logo of all time by Marketing magazine, the City of Melbourne’s visual identity system centers on a bold and modernist “M.” Landor designers created a “shards of glass” effect within the “M” to celebrate the diverse and multidimensional character of the city. The new identity helps unify the city’s ever-growing portfolio of programs, events, and services within a flexible visual system. Its geometric “M” enables hundreds of diverse effects, from multifaceted versions and triangle-shaped constructions to three-dimensional iterations. Despite some initial controversy, the now iconic visual system is highly respected and frequently imitated around the world. It was awarded gold from Graphis Design Annual 2011.


In Qatar, idam is the centerpiece of a meal. The elite restaurant of the same name, housed in the I.M. Pei–designed Museum of Islamic Art, was built on a vision of culinary and cultural fusion. Renowned French chef Alain Ducasse and designer Philippe Starck worked with Landor to bring this vision to life. Landor created a wordmark that unites the Latin alphabet with the swooping forms of Arabic calligraphy, creating elegant light illustrations. The visual system was then applied across everything from posters and menus to gift boxes and business cards. Much acclaimed, Idam has become a must-see for tourists in Doha. Landor’s work won silver at the 2013 Dubai Lynx Festival and bronze at the London International Awards.



Interview with Luc Speisser, Managing Director, Landor Paris and Geneva

How many employees does Landor Paris currently have? What are the major industries of the clients with whom you most closely work?

We are an office of about 50 to 60 people depending on the number of freelancers we have in-house at any given moment.

We have strong credentials across myriad clients and industries, helping reinvent brands across the B2B and B2C spaces for both big global brands and smaller local ones. Some of our clients and industries include: agro-business (Syngenta), automotive (Citroën, Citroën DS, Seat), banking and insurance (Natixis, Axa), consumer goods (Procter & Gamble, Danone, Bel, Mondelēz), energy and transportation (Total Marketing & Services, Geodis, RATP Group), hospitality (Kempinski Hotels, Tangram, La Mamounia, AccorHotels, Louvre Hotels, HomeAway), luxury goods (Hennessy), and pharmaceuticals (Roche).

We have deep experience and expertise in many categories, but our overall ambition is always to be our clients’ most trusted partner, helping them solve any and all challenges related to their brands.

Since joining the company in 2005, you’ve been leading a robust team in Paris. Since 2012, Landor Paris has been rated No. 1 in strategy and client satisfaction by the agencies-brands relationship barometer run by Limelight Consulting/OpinionWay. Can you share your experience leading such a great team?

When I joined Landor in 2005 as the executive director of strategy for Paris and Geneva, the Paris office was only known as a packaging design agency (despite the fact that our founder, Walter Landor, essentially invented the whole branding industry). There was a huge gap between the office’s reputation and the amazing horsepower of other Landor offices around the world, which were using superior strategic and creative approaches to create innovative brand solutions for their clients. So my first task was to dramatically improve the strategic skills at the Paris office, aligning them with the other major Landor offices. I remember my speech to the office during the first company meeting I attended. I told everyone that we did not deserve the Landor sign over the entrance, and that we wouldn’t deserve it until we were capable of providing high-level strategic offerings for our clients. I did not make friends at that meeting, but it was the truth and it needed to be told—a kind of wake-up call, if you will. And then I discovered something I will never forget: the unique power of the Landor network.

I was invited to attend Landor’s strategic community council, which takes place every year in New York, to learn more about the best strategic practices across our network. Over the next two days I met with some of the finest strategic brains at Landor, hearing all about their experiences, credentials, and advanced strategic thinking. I absorbed as much information as I possibly could and once I was back in Paris the Landor network continued to support me, offering advice on almost every strategic assignment we pitched. Thanks to this supersonic fast track, we very quickly won our first strategic assignments on innovation, and after just two years we had the chance to win and work on one of the biggest and most complete brand architecture assignments that Landor has ever accomplished. This gave the Paris office an incredible edge in the strategy discipline, with our unique and efficient business-led approach differentiating us from our competitors in continental Europe. Since then, we have relentlessly continued to improve our strategic practice, bringing a number of new, innovative, and efficient strategic tools to our network and clients. This is certainly one of the reasons why we are rated No. 1 in the strategy field.

But strategic excellence was just one step. When I took over as managing director it didn’t take me long to decide what I wanted our office to be. This was rooted in a very simple observation: What happens at the supermarket happens in the branding industry, too, with customers either buying the cheapest or the best. Everything in between simply disappears from the shelves. Both Landor and our holding company, WPP, have always strived to be the best—it is part of our culture. The implication of this ambition is very simple: We must provide our clients with the best strategy, the best client service, and the best creative. So I “senior-ized” the team at all levels starting with building a strong and complementary executive team, and then completely transformed the creative team by recruiting a new executive creative director. Four years later, we have won and expanded relationships with numerous prestigious clients and built an enviable creative reputation both locally and internationally. With five Cannes Lions, Landor Paris was the most awarded brand and design consultancy at Cannes in 2015. And we are very proud that our beloved executive creative director Tristan Macherel has been chosen as president of the design jury at Cannes 2016.

What’s your standard in selecting talent? What quality do you feel is a must for employees?

We have two objectives with regard to talent: First, hiring, growing, and keeping the best of the best. Second, attracting the most promising new talent.

We look for excellence and for people that will excel. We want everyone in the office, no matter the department or level of seniority, to be a creative problem solver. Hence, the qualities we expect: We want our people to be excellent listeners, the very first quality for great problem solving, and we want our employees to be highly entrepreneurial, demonstrating a can-do attitude. We look for people who are determined and impactful, who refuse to take no for an answer. Being straightforward and simple is also important so our teams can cut through the jargon and focus on the core issues. Last but not least, we want good people, people you are happy to have a beer with after work—we spend too much of our lives at work to have to deal with jerks, even if they are good professionals. And of course, one final attribute that might sound obvious: We want passion. People who love what they are doing. Who love creating or recreating brands. Who love solving problems. Who love thinking about the right strategic angle or the perfect digital interface.

One of the greatest compliments I received since becoming managing director at Landor Paris was from a talent hunter who, after listening to me answer questions about how Landor Paris was doing, told me: “I have spoken with many people who rave about Landor Paris and now I better understand why. You are one of the very few agencies that I have met over the last years—and I have met a lot—that does not start complaining when I ask how they are doing, but tells me directly about the latest brands you have invented or reinvented, with a true sparkle in your eye. This is something quite rare today.” What better compliment can you ask for?

What do you think is the most important thing in design management?

To answer that question I always quote Walter Landor: “A brand is a promise. A great brand is a kept promise.” This was true yesterday, this is still true today (if not even truer), and it will definitely be true tomorrow—what a brand does has to be in line with what the brand says. But the way brands achieve this balance has to dramatically change. For a long time, brands were built as cathedrals: complex and piously protected, somehow hermetic to their surroundings and the evolving environments in which they operated. Identities remained silent and lacked meaning. Brands of today, and inevitably of tomorrow, cannot remain frozen in time, but must be agile.

And yet most companies are still fulfilling only an infinitesimal part of their brands’ potential. The digital revolution, combined with a blend of high-level strategic and creative brand thinking and doing, has turned brands into worlds of unchartered possibilities. A logo is more than just a visual graphic—it’s not just about shapes and colors, it’s about delivering a brand’s promise across every channel. Every single brand touchpoint can become highly engaging and ownable as free, permanent media: That is the real future of design management. Brands, whoever you are, join us in embracing all the opportunities of this exciting new agile world.

Before moving into a branding career, you’d been working on AIDS prevention and other health-related issues at several foundations for 10 years. How does this kind of experience influence your work at present?

It has, is, and will continue to influence my work massively. I believe that our job at Landor is to get people to change their behaviors by fully leveraging the potential of a brand. Think about it. Everything we do aims to alter consumers’ actions: getting consumers to shift from brand A to brand B, getting consumers to buy more products from brand A, getting consumers to buy or more frequently use the products from brand A, getting employees to change the way they serve their clients to align with the company’s new values or promise.

Working on AIDS prevention and other health-related issues was the best training I could have dreamt of. Not only did I have to get people to change their behaviors, which is never an easy thing to do, but I also had to “sell” them very unsexy behavioral shifts, either getting them to radically stop or seriously limit things they loved to do like smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, or getting them to use products they did not want to hear about, such as condoms.

After volunteering for numerous NGOs, including the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, I had the opportunity to take one of the most exciting jobs possible: leading the French public communications against AIDS. It was the mid-’90s and we were at the peak of the AIDS pandemic. The challenge was huge. I quickly learned the limitations of mass advertising: Even with a big budget and a strong idea, advertising raised awareness but was not sufficient to change perceptions, and didn’t even come close to changing behaviors. So we developed specific communications strategies and action plans across 18 different target audiences, because one size does not fit all when you’re talking about sex and condoms. We had to create the conditions for the message to get across, so we looked for new ways to accomplish that far beyond traditional media. For example, how do you think we managed to reach porn-movie lovers? We signed a partnership with Canal+, the largest pay-TV channel in France, to coproduce pornographic short films demonstrating the efficiency of the condom. These were created by the most famous French directors and broadcast every first Saturday of the month, right before the main porn movie. It was a great success, and the prevention message got across like never before.

What have these years and challenges infused in me? An inextinguishable appetite to try new things, learn from failure, never give up, and constantly invent and reinvent.

How do you maintain and balance your work at Landor Paris and Geneva?

I live in Paris so I naturally spend more time there (and it’s not the worst place to live, actually). I connect daily with the Geneva team and I adapt my presence on the ground in Geneva to our clients’ needs. There are some months where I visit only once, others where I visit every week. The great thing is that I now have amazing teams in both Paris and Geneva, so I can travel to either place without worrying that everything will collapse in the other! Over the course of my years at the helm of Paris and Geneva, the accomplishment I am most proud of is the team I have built. Because in our industry, it’s all about the people, it’s all about the team.


When Bayer decided to spin off its materials science business, it needed to address a critical problem: getting 16,000 employees to embrace the newly established company, Covestro, without feeling a sense of loss due to the change. Landor went above and beyond to create a brand that would serve as a beacon to Covestro’s worldwide employees, celebrating the possibilities of materials and lighting the way for the future. Armed with a new brand story, name, and visual identity, employee engagement soared from 48 to 90 percent, and the Covestro IPO became the largest in Germany since 2000.


Djantoli: The world's most positive NGO
How do you help an NGO with zero marketing budget achieve a 100 percent increase in donations? By transforming its logo into a permanent communication campaign on the efficacy of the organization. Landor embedded Djantoli’s key performance metric (lives saved) into the visual identity system itself. Just nine months after implementing the new logo—the only change made to its communications—Djantoli witnessed a 62 percent increase in affiliated families and a 100 percent increase in donations, all achieved without any incremental spending. Best of all, the number of children’s lives saved more than doubled. Landor’s work won a best of Rebrand 100, Grand Prix at TOP/COM Corporate Business 2015, and gold at Grand Prix Stratégies du Design.

Nine Suns

When the Chang family founded their winery in Napa Valley, they set out to produce one of the finest wines in California. They asked Landor to create the brand’s name and label design. Inspired by the family’s heritage, Landor was drawn to the Chinese legend of the 10 suns. Landor designed a label that clearly showcases the God of Archery, the legend’s key figure, shooting down the nine orb-like suns that caused imbalance in the earth. Landor’s design won a gold Design Lion at the 2013 Cannes International Festival of Creativity and received recognition from organizations such as Brand New, the One Club, and Art Directors Club.


With more than 300 years of experience in banking, Barclays decided it was time to freshen its image. Landor reimagined everything from a projected display atop Barclays’ New York City headquarters to its PGA Tour sponsorship and its Brooklyn-based professional athletic arena. Across the board, Landor helped Barclays push boundaries. Its headquarters became an innovative blue, branded beacon at night; the Barclays PGA Tour event debuted a specially designed pavilion experience; and Barclays Center received a branded environment with dynamic naming and signage, leading it to top all U.S. venues in gross ticket sales for the year.


In 2010, business travelers to China had limited accommodation options: five-star luxury or two-star dreariness. Seizing the opportunity to fill this gap, Kempinski Hotels engaged Landor to innovate a three-star offering. Landor anchored the brand experience in the concept of “on and off.” Check-in could be fast and automated or relaxed and personal. The lounge could serve for official meetings or informal chats, while in-room modular “bed-desks” could switch from bed to office in a snap. Even the hotel name, Tangram, nods to modularity, referring to the Chinese geometric puzzle with multiple configurations. The concept has proven so successful that Tangram opened a second hotel in Kurdistan and plans to open others in emerging markets.



Interview with Tristan Macherel, Executive Creative Director, Landor Paris

Landor Paris has won multiple creativity awards, so what’s your secret in leading such a great team?

There’s no real secret—a great team has to be able to combine strong strategy with exceptional creativity. I expect designers on my team to think holistically, considering things through multiple lenses.

Could you describe your typical design process after assuming a project?

We see ourselves as problem solvers. Rather than starting with inspirational images as many designers do, we begin with insights. Once we land on a key insight we look for a creative idea to address it.

Landor Paris has created many brilliant packaging design works. What’s your philosophy in packaging design?

Every day, 365 days a year, package design is a means to start a conversation with an audience. It is important that brands don’t miss out on this opportunity. They should think about packaging as a way to communicate their point of view, not just inform consumers about the product contained within the packaging.

How about your philosophy and practice in logo designing?

Designing a company’s logo should be about more than just creating a mark—it should be a true sign of change. As with packaging, logos offer great possibilities for companies to communicate their visions. Logos can become more than mere symbols of recognition, endowed with much deeper meaning.

What part of the design process do you enjoy the most and what part is the most difficult?

The most enjoyable and most difficult parts of the design process go hand in hand. I most look forward to the special moment when I spot a brilliant idea and see it come alive. However, getting to these ideas is always a challenge and can require many iterations and a lot of patience, time, and energy.

Are your clients in Paris easy to deal with? What do you usually do when clients have doubts about your design proposal?

We are always looking to create agile brands that are both different and relevant, and sometimes being different is a difficult thing for our clients to embrace.

The French market is very conservative—in my opinion, not brave enough. At Landor, our role is to challenge our clients. We strive for the no because that means we’ve pushed our clients to consider a new way of thinking. Chasing a yes is easy, but it will not drive our clients to innovate.

Landor has been working with many big brands in rebranding strategy planning. In dealing with the rebranding planning for the same brand at different stages, how do you maintain the coherence of the brand while creating something new?

Maintaining coherence doesn’t prevent us from creating something new as long as the foundation is grounded in a strong brand idea. This core brand concept can be expressed in many different ways. Clients shouldn’t focus on using the same assets consistently, but rather on constantly using their core assets in innovative ways.

Nuo Hotels

Some say that China has no true homegrown luxury brand, but Nuo Hotels aims to silence these naysayers. The result of an eight-year collaboration between Kempinski and Landor’s Beijing and Paris offices, the Nuo project started with a conversation about how to differentiate service delivery. Each property, though contemporary in style, offers guests a unique experience of Chinese art and cultural history. Nuo derives its name from the Chinese characters that mean “golden promise,” and its identity was inspired by a classic Chinese vase, a symbol of hospitality and prosperity. The flagship hotel in Beijing’s 798 Art Zone showcases the literature, art, and culture of the prosperous Ming dynasty.


Landor worked with ITG to transform its brand, converting its image from that of electronics broker to a company offering financial trading technology and market research. Designs featuring staggered “coded” messages helped differentiate ITG, illustrating its ability to decode signal from noise. Landor conceptualized immersive environments for its headquarters, complete with interactive installations that used ITG’s products to create visual patterns from the data ITG collects. Three years after launch, ITG stock’s trading price increased from $8 to $25 per share, and Landor’s work received a CLIO award and was honored by the Society for Environmental Graphic Design.


Fedora: A stairway to glory
Fedora, the European federation of philanthropists for opera and ballet, came to Landor for a new visual brand language. Clear and elegant, Fedora’s logo removes the shape of an “F” from a rectangle to reveal a set of stairs leading to a stage—representing the ascension of a performer from novice to expert. The extracted “F” became the design for Fedora’s trophies. Posters and promotional materials were crafted for the ballet: Music and movement were graphically illustrated through the brush-like strokes of a ballerina’s dance in paint-dipped shoes. Landor’s work won the Grand Prix at the Grand Prix Stratègies du Design, two Cannes Lions for posters, a silver CLIO, and one D&AD pencil.


With air travel becoming economically driven and rationally expressed, Etihad Airways aimed to bring back the allure of flight. Landor helped Etihad think beyond the conventional to see itself as a hospitality brand providing experiences so memorable guests would want to talk about them. Its visual system is a tessellation of golds and browns inspired by the architecture and surrounding landscape of Etihad’s home city Abu Dhabi. Passengers are treated as guests, with each cabin class offering a different bespoke experience and extraordinary airport lounges promising live music, personal chefs, and virtual golf matches. With over 95,000 Twitter impressions and 1,395 tweets in the first week after launch, Etihad’s rebrand made an immediate impact with consumers. It went on to win 2016 Airline of the Year from Air Transport World and Best Airline Livery of 2015 from TheDesignAir, while reporting year-over-year growth of 17%. Far more than an airline, Etihad has become a remarkable destination in itself.


Looking to increase its relevance with younger audiences, Molsion, China’s leading domestic sunglasses brand, invited Landor to help refresh its brand. Landor conducted group interviews to define the characteristics of how Chinese youth think, feel, and act, which led to the development of a unique persona: the Chinese rebel. Unlike its Western counterpart, the Chinese rebel wants to stand out, but in a way that demonstrates social cohesion. Knowing this, a Chinese rebel was born and Molsion repositioned itself to appeal to its new audience. Landor’s work with Molsion won gold for best visual identity in the retail sector at the 2015 Transform Awards Asia-Pacific.



Interview with David Mineyama-Smithson, Executive Creative Director, Landor Greater China

How many offices does Landor Greater China have? What are the major industries of the clients wtih whom you mostly work?

Our regional headquarters are in Shanghai, and we have offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Seoul. We work across a broad range of industries but see a significant amount of work in retail (particularly apparel), leisure, hotels, and hospitality.

What do you feel is the difference between leading a team in Greater China and leading a Western design team? What do you enjoy the most and what part is the most difficult?

There is a distinct difference between Chinese design teams and Western ones, most of which I think stems from the differences in the educational systems in their respective countries. Chinese designers who are domestically educated tend to be more task-oriented than their Western counterparts. They are very capable when it comes to working under clear and precise instruction, but tend to struggle more with out-of-the-box thinking and taking initiative—though obviously there are always exceptions. Chinese designers who have spent a few years in Western design schools often bring new perspective and approaches to their work, offering the best of both regions. There is also a distinct difference in working style between the younger generations and some of our more senior staff, as we’re seeing a very rapid rise of some of our talented junior and mid-level creatives.

In terms of the parts I most enjoy and the things I find most challenging, I really appreciate the hungry and enthusiastic nature of the young creatives coming out of the Greater China region. Their willingness to try new things and give concepts a go enables change to occur quickly and keeps things moving at a very rapid rate. Some of the difficulties obviously stem from the language barrier and cultural differences, since I am originally from England, but also from the often-detailed guidance that can be needed to help teams deliver the desired result.

Could you describe your typical design process after assuming a project?

Our design process starts during the very first stage of a project, when cross-disciplinary teams work together to rapidly prototype strategic scenarios. We view the strategic component of any project as integral to the design phase and irreplaceable within the creative process. Only when we have arrived at a strategy that delivers insight, differentiation, relevance, and credibility will we move into more precise visual expressions. Typically we work on developing multiple concept silos, each with a unique angle on how to express the positioning.

This process is seen as one of the real strengths of Landor, a true integration of strategy and expression that many companies claim, but few are able to put into practice.

What’s your standard for selecting talent for Landor Greater China? How do you train your new employees? And how do you attract talent and retain employees?

We look for diversity and openness in our teams as it helps promote innovation. In order to accomplish the right mix, we choose people with international and local experiences and perspectives, people that will share and collaborate on projects at all stages of work. It’s through these daily interactions and discussions that our designers and strategists learn and adapt their knowledge to create solutions that are right for our clients in their particular markets.

Does Landor Greater China screen its clients? What kind of clients do you prefer to work with? From your standpoint, what’s the difference between working with Chinese clients and with Westerners?

Partnership, understanding, and trust are the keys to success when it comes to building brands anywhere in the world. This is the chemistry we look for when we partner with clients. This approach to working with clients, while well established in the West, is still in its infancy in the Chinese market, which relies on a more client-supplier method. Though Chinese clients may have a different working style, they more than make up for it with their appetite, enthusiasm, and willingness to experiment in branding. Established Western brands tend to have a more cautious, incremental approach to change—big leaps can take a long time. In contrast, Chinese clients are eager to test new ideas in the market, which in turn creates fantastic creative opportunities.

What do you think of the design market and creative industry in China?

In terms of branding in the region, we stand at a unique and privileged point in time. As Chinese companies spread their wings beyond domestic boundaries, we recognize that no prior generations have had—and possibly no later ones will have—the opportunity to play such an influential role in helping build the global brands of tomorrow. In the midst of our work it can be easy to forget that consciously or unconsciously, we are writing tomorrow’s history of the industry here and now.


Nike ~ Hypervenom II
Nike’s latest boot, Hypervenom II, was crafted with a foot-informed design and a hint of the dangerous: special coloring on the sole indicative of the deadly capabilities of a poisonous animal. Its campaign was created by ManvsMachine, the newest member of the Landor family, and champions the agile and devastatingly deceptive nature of the Hypervenom. ManvsMachine’s design extends to every aspect of the campaign—from film and print to retail and digital.

M&G Stationery

Faced with increased competition in China, M&G Stationery wanted to refresh its brand to better stand out. By conducting multiple workshops to engage staff and members of the public, Landor developed a new brand positioning and experience for the stationery giant, including a reimagined visual expression, store environment, and customer journey. The co-creation process led to the development of a fun visual system: The graphic expression of fingerprints is truly for the people by the people. In 2015 the work won three silvers at the Transform Awards Asia-Pacific and a best brand design award at the ROI Festival.

20/80: 100% good

From low-fat and organic to gluten-free and sugar-free, healthy eating can be complicated. An entrepreneur came to Landor with a solution to this dilemma, creating crystal-clear concepts that use vegetables as main ingredients (80%) and richer foods as toppings (20%). It was a great idea, but without a brand. To help the concept stand out in a crowded market, Landor translated the idea directly into the name: 20% rich toppings plus 80% vegetables…say hello to 20/80. The next step was to keep it simple. The idea of 20/80 is conveyed through the brand’s words, look and feel, and photographic style, focusing on the playful, healthy, delightful, and indulgent aspects of eating.

DC Comics

Few brands have touched as many generations as DC Comics. People from countries far and wide have grown up with its vivid characters and thrilling tales. Landor captured this world through a new visual identity system, creating a realm where opposing forces meet. The “D,” placed strategically over the “C,” peels back to reveal the dual identities of DC Comics superheroes such as Batman, the Green Lantern, Superman, and Catwoman. The visual system is flexible and dynamic, applying equally well to movie trailers, digital animation, or printed comic books. It also ties the brand firmly to its parent company, DC Entertainment.


Mexican in source and spirit, Espolón Tequila has always favored craftsmanship over mass production. When Gruppo Campari reintroduced this cult-favorite to the United States, Landor realized that telling the story of Espolón meant telling the story of Mexico. After designing a new structural bottle shape, Landor turned to the packaging. Inspired by J.G. Posada’s engravings of everyday life, the label on each bottle of Espolón depicts a scene from a moment in history—and incorporates the iconic figure of Ramón the Rooster, whose shrill crowing was said to have signaled the start of the battle for Mexican independence.



The story of the Klamath

In the 1960s, Walter Landor faced a difficult situation: With more and more people joining the branding company he pioneered, the San Francisco office was no longer big enough to support its number of employees. Many people suggested that Walter invest in a large, impressive office to accommodate his staff—and more importantly, outshine the competition. However, Walter didn’t take the usual path. He solved the problem by spending just $12,000 for the Klamath, a handcrafted wooden ferryboat he purchased at auction.

Walter docked the huge ferryboat at Pier 5 in the San Francisco Bay. The move was questioned by many people, including government officials who thought Landor should have applied for a license. Luckily for Walter, the local government couldn’t decide exactly which category he should have applied for—the Klamath was neither a simple ferryboat nor a building. People started to speculate that Landor would close. Ultimately, however, Walter’s bold decision to buy the Klamath perfectly represented Landor’s out-of-the-box thinking and led to much successes that eventually silenced all doubters.

With a capacity of 1,000 people, the Klamath allowed Landor’s employees to move their working location from land to sea, which offered a great deal of flexibility and inspiration. It also resulted in a unique phenomenon: If you saw someone stumble on the sidewalk nearby, it was probably a Landor employee who was so used to the rocking of the boat that they struggled to find balance again once on land.

Landor’s employees and visitors soon found that working on the boat was a brilliant idea. The delicate windows and the broad deck created a special atmosphere for creativity. Landorians became accustomed to the sound of waves and the barking of seals. They enjoyed outdoor meetings with clients and even made their own lunches of freshly caught fish.

The Klamath quickly became renowned for the groundbreaking creative work coming out of its studios, as well as the myriad cultural luminaries who loved to visit, including Andy Warhol, Tom Wolfe, Issey Miyake, Marshall McLuhan, and many others.

The Klamath served as Landor’s office for over 20 years. In the 1980s, Landor moved its headquarters back on land. With the development of the internet and other digital equipment, the Klamath could no longer cater to the rapid growth of the company. Even so, it still conveys the values and spirit of its founder and has become a long-standing symbol for the company. Graphic illustrations of the Klamath are now printed on everything from Landor’s notebooks to its business cards and can be found in every Landor office around the world. The spirit of the Klamath will forever be a part of Landor’s prestigious heritage.

Download the full, printable article above.

This piece was originally published in Chinese by Package & Design (May 2016). Republished with permission.

© 2016 Landor and Package & Design. All rights reserved.