The word 'Not' written digitally in a range of styles

Not Wieden+Kennedy design studio branding

To launch its new design arm, Wieden+Kennedy in London released a playful digital campaign that allows users to create their own wordmarks and designs

In 2023, Wieden+Kennedy London launched a new branding and design studio called Not Wieden+Kennedy. Although the wider agency has worked on branding projects for the likes of Nike, Sainsbury’s and Formula 1, the Wieden+Kennedy network is most associated with advertising. The name of the new design studio is a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of this and aims to highlight its different offering.

“Wieden+Kennedy isn’t primarily known for its branding and design capabilities, despite delivering these projects for national and global brands,” says Adam Rix, head of the new studio. “The name Not Wieden+Kennedy challenges this perception and signals that something unexpected is available.”

Grid of eight bright, eclectic graphics featuring quirky icons and characters

The studio wanted to take an unconventional approach to its visual identity, in keeping with its unconventional name. To bring this concept to life, it created the Not Machine, a digital platform that allows anyone in the team – designer or not – to create custom wordmarks based on an image or icon. These can be used as digital brushes to paint a unique design that can be animated in a range of motion styles.

The concept goes against the usual wisdom applied to new ventures, where consistent branding is often favoured in order to drive awareness and recall. Instead, the adaptable wordmarks represent Not Wieden+Kennedy as a studio in dialogue with the world around it. People using the Not Machine can create wordmarks that reference current events or incorporate client assets such as their logos, reflecting the studio’s collaborative, flexible nature.

The Not Machine captures a sense of play and freedom that is often missing from digital spaces, so the team decided to share it with the world by launching a public version of the generator that is free to use, allowing anyone, anywhere to dabble in creating custom designs of their own.

Six bright, eclectic graphics featuring quirky icons and characters

The generator forms the basis of the studio’s website, which has helped it to attract more than 120,000 visitors since the launch, including 40,000 in the first month alone, with an average dwell time of nearly two minutes. The identity launch was featured in the creative industry press and contributed to multiple business leads and several project wins.

Websites are an important touchpoint for studios, particularly ones that are relatively new, to connect with clients. The decision to dedicate this space to play and enjoyment, rather than case studies and sales pitches, indicates Not Wieden+Kennedy’s intention to shake up the status quo while showing that sometimes it pays to take the path less trodden.

Ksenya Samarskaya, strategist and a judge for the Annual Awards, explains why the project was picked as a winner:

Category: Brand Identity – Launch (Winner); Self-Promotion (Honourable Mention)
Studio: Not Wieden+Kennedy London
Creative Director: Adam Rix
Brand Director: Anika Ramani
Senior Designer: Adam Hunt
Designer: Ananya Mohan
Creative Technologist: Jonathan Plackett
Copywriter: Joe De Souza
Illustrators: Lilia Quinaud, Zhangzhe Peng
3D Designer: Rezaul Aloum
Motion Designers: Jon Harris, Mark Gilligan
Project Director: Rebecca Herbert
Senior Producers: Ross Dunstan, Bex Calwa