FRIDAY 6 NOV 2009 10:50 AM


Branding a city is like attempting to “eat a dinosaur” and annual reports are “bullshit”, according to Michael Wolff.

The founder and one-time face of branding agency Wolff Olins was speaking at this week’s D&AD President’s Lecture in Liverpool.

And although he initially asked his audience not to take him at his word, he was outspoken on several branding and communications issues.

“Whether the word ‘London’ is written in Helvetica or the logo has Dick Whittington in it will not have much bearing on how people actually think of, and experience, the city,” he said, referring to plans to create an identity for London. “Branding is an illusion of an easy win for cities, without actually making them any better to live in.”

Wolff later argued that “annual reports are such bullshit, really” and criticised his former consultancy Wolff Olins, saying, “The group’s boldness has turned to arrogance, which has not a trace of humility in it.”

He concluded his lecture the Liverpool Design Symposium, which took place at Liverpool John Moores University’s Art & Design Academy by claiming: “More than the recession, the interesting thing about our times is the business crisis, because we are having to ask “what is business for and are we dealing properly with the big issues in our culture?”