When Gordon Lippincott created the term “Corporate Identity” in 1945, he could not have imagined how much the concept of brand would change, and how far our firm’s own corporate identity would evolve. No longer is brand simply a marker for quality, and no longer is it controlled through a centralized, top-down marketing and by trademarks.
Today, Lippincott is a leader in a new world of brands — in the creation of experiences that customers believe in and want to belong to. And while Lippincott has successfully pioneered brand and innovation for hundreds of corporate clients and consumer brands, in 2016 it became apparent that we needed to do the same for our own Lippincott brand. So, reflecting on decades of offerings to help leaders navigate the changing world, we turned the mirror inward — taking ourselves on as our own client to evolve our brand identity.
The curious case of being both your own client and agency
Setting out to address our own brand identity was not without challenges. In such cases, objectivity duels with emotion. Sentimentality squares off with the need to express meaningful change. It’s not unlike what our clients sometimes experience, and we as our own client proved to be no exception. Thus, from the start, our charge was to be forceful and honest in assessing the state of our brand and the solutions that would reconcile it with our new reality.
First things first: With brand and design long at the core of our DNA, we realized nonetheless that our long-standing purpose no longer reflected the broader scope of offering. Through a deep discovery process of surveys, comprehensive audits and staff interviews, we ultimately redefined our brand platform under a new and revitalized rallying cry: Make it meaningful.
Challenge and inspiration
Building on our new framework, and eager to impart meaning even within the design, we turned our attention to Lippincott’s visual identity with a goal of simplifying our look in a way that would allow our people, our work and our ideas to shine through.
A dedicated team of Lippincott designers explored, iterated and refined scores of directional concepts. Two recurring inspirations kept influencing the work: The New York Times and the Museum of Modern Art. And, while on the surface they might appear New York-centric, in truth both are international in their reach and significance, as is Lippincott. Ultimately, we narrowed a field of dozens of creative explorations to three unique visual directions. And in a stroke of confidence, we chose the one that was the greatest departure from our original identity.
The new system anchors on editorial-inspired layouts that reflect our rigor and help us tell powerfully engaging stories. It features a bold and distinct serif font that is sophisticated yet versatile, as well as a primary color palette of black and white that sharpens our edge and authority. Supporting illustrations are simple, timeless, imaginative and approachable — often acting as visual metaphors for our ideas. And our newly codified brand voice complements the visual system; developed over several collaborative working sessions by our strategy and design teams, it conveys authenticity, expertise, ambitious optimism, business know-how and human empathy.
Turning on the experience engine
As we tell all our clients, your experience is your brand. Thus, after codifying our new visual brand identity, we turned our attention to translating it into meaningful experiences across the customer journey. Most conspicuous in this was our website, home to our portfolio of work and our current thinking. White space surrounds our work, insights, team biographies and a dynamic collection of human-era photography. The consistent application of brand voice and the light use of animated transitions make for a seamless digital experience. And the flexibility of this new system allows us to push the envelope with new and engaging digital marketing campaigns, such as our microsite on the Customer of the Future.
Additionally, we developed a full suite of marketing materials, Sense Perspectives and environmental designs to ensure that each of our touchpoints provides the signature Lippincott experience with a touch of pared-back elegance. The brand overhaul has instilled a refreshed sense of pride throughout our firm and truly allows our strategy and design work to shine. Our audience has responded as well: More people than ever are engaging with our brand, with website visitors more than doubling year over year. The new identity is authentic to our firm and its storied history, while also putting a definitive stake in the ground for an exciting future.