Wally Olins

Wally Olins

Wally Olins was a celebrated British graphic designer, best known for creating corporate identitys. He held the chairmanship of Saffron Brand Consultants. Having years of hands-on experience in developing corporate identities and packaging, Olins provided consultation to world’s leading organizations seeking business solutions.

Born on December 19, 1930, Wally Olins grew up in London, England. He received his early education from Highgate School in North London. He then went on to study history at St. Peter’s College, Oxford. Afterward, he embarked on his professional career selecting advertising as his field on interest. He landed his first job as head of an advertising agency, Ogilvy and Mather. The agency was located in Mumbai, India, where he spent half a decade working. Even before the term branding came into existence, Olins developed interest in the field. Private and non-profit organization were discovering about this unique process of reputation building which had Olins excited about the possibilities that this particular area of advertising would offer.

In order to pursue his passion for branding he travelled around the world and worked in some unusual places from Northern Ireland, Lithuania, Mauritius, Poland to West Bengal. Some of the corporations would take Olins opinion next to Chairman’s which is the testimony of the brilliance of his work. Other artists reviewed Olins work and identified the possible influences. Some believe that he was inspired by the abstract art movement, Colour Field. The movement reported to have been started during 1940s and 50s in New York. Colour Field’s work is characterized by large, flat areas of solid colour spread across the canvas. Olins’ work also feature blocked areas of colour which is witnessed in his 3i and Repsol works. His works reflect Colour Field’s style which had bare minimum emphasis on brushstrokes and detail. That characteristic of his work also associates it with minimalist style as he used rudimentary colours, textures and lines.

After his return from Mumbai to London, Olins co-founded Wolff Olins, in 1965. He held the chairmanship at the firm. Subsequently, he established another successful firm, Saffron Brand Consultants, in partnership with Jacob Benbunan, a former colleague from Wolff Olins in 2001. World’s leading corporations sought Olins expertise in corporate identity and branding. He provided consultations to great many notable organizations, such as Renault, Akzo Nobel, Volkswagen, 3i, Tata and Q8. He gave advises to both Bain and McKinsey and was the man responsible for developing the concept of the nation as a brand.

In addition to being world’s leading practitioner of branding and identity, Olins was an eminent teacher. He earned the fellowship and professorship at several leading business schools and institutes around the globe. Besides holding visiting professor’s position at various universities, he also spoke at seminars on branding and communications. Olins had reputation among his clients and colleagues for being straightforward and honest about his views. Furthermore, he had keen interest in reading modern history, travelling, sightseeing and socializing.

As to honour his contribution to the business world and art, he was awarded CBE, the Royal Society of Arts’ Bicentenary Medal and nominated for the Prince Philip Designers Prize. Additionally, he was an inspiring writer whose books sold in 18 different languages. Some of his noted works include Trading Identities, Brand New – The Shape of Brands to Come and Wally Olins -The Brand Handbook. Wally Olins passed away on April 14, 2014, at the age of 83.


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