We’re hiring: Senior Strategist, SF

Our senior strategists are responsible for developing compelling strategic narratives and recommendations, and building client relationships.  They are dynamic, self-motivated, digitally-native individuals with experience in understanding different types of business models and challenges, developing cut-through insights connected to clients’ business and brand opportunities and creating strategic solutions across online and offline platforms.  In addition, our senior strategists independently run medium-sized client engagements valued at $500 to $1M, with responsibility for overall content development and delivery as well as long term client growth.  They work closely with our strategy directors, creative directors and the design team, as well as our business development and marketing teams.

Senior Strategists employ conventional and non-conventional research methodologies to uncover the right insights. They are current and interested in consumer macrotrends, industry debates and technological innovations and frame insights in clear language, build solid rationale to support strategic recommendations, and craft compelling stories. Senior Strategists support the business development through key issue identification and analysis and strategic point-of-view development; proactively pursue new business targets.

Skills: Proven critical thinking, content synthesis and research skills / Content creator – online or offline / Exceptional communication, writing, analysis and organizational skills 

Soft Skills: Ability to lead and inspire teams / Ability to manage multiple projects in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment / Proven ability to build consensus and work effectively within a cross-departmental team

Experience: Bachelor’s degree plus 5 - 10 years of experience in brand, advertising, digital or management consultant agencies / Experience creating or managing digital or technology brand experiences

If this describes you, please email your resume and anticipated salary range to PeopleSanFrancisco@wolffolins.com with the subject: Senior Strategist in SF.

We’re hiring: Lead Strategist (based in London)

If you see yourself as a game-changer and have a brilliant mix of imagination, logic, resilience and a special talent to make things happen then Wolff Olins may be your perfect fit. If you feel that others - inside our organisation or in client organisations of as many as 100,000 people would follow your lead, we would love to hear from you.

Currently, we’re on the lookout for a strategy team member at our mid level.  

Our Lead Strategists are the drivers of our biggest accounts. You’ll be helping to shape the pathway of our biggest projects and you’ll be responsible for managing and delivering large workstreams within those projects. You’ll have the chance to continually grow as you will be offered sizeable challenges whilst also being supported by our learning and mentoring culture.  As a Lead Strategist, you are en route to becoming one of the leaders of Wolff Olins, both commercially and culturally.

You may already work in the world of brand consulting, you may work in a single sector, or in an entrepreneurial venture. You need solid business know-how, true creative flair and an ability to not just re-define the purpose of an organization but to re-tune its culture, processes, products, services and end goals accordingly.

We work across all sectors – technology, finance, government, professional services, arts and non-profit and we hope you would be up for some sector experimentation too. Unusual mixes of experience and expertise is inherent to our approach.

It is also our hope that you share our philosophy. We’re committed to transforming existing markets, creating new markets, to helping businesses and organisations responsibly grow. And the responsibility bit is important. We put positive social impact at the heart of what we do.

For more details, please contact Xander Hough (HR Manager) by email Xander.Hough@wolffolins.com with Lead Strategist as your subject line.

Sweat the big stuff

By Camila Grey

What kind of toothpaste do you use? Which side of the fridge did you return the jam to this morning? How many emails did you flick through and ignore? Do you know for certain? Can you really remember? Do you really care?

Routines make life easier. They’re reassuring, consistent and comforting. They get us through the days. From the little things like the time we get up, to bigger things like the meetings we attend and the way we interact with each other, having a proven way of doing it just makes logical sense. Right?

“Relentless work can also be a form of laziness, because it is work that is comfortable and familiar to us, that we know how to do. And it allows us to avoid the truly hard work and bigger questions about our present and our future: What shall we become? How must we change?”

Who said this, do you think? A great philosopher? A wise, grandfatherly type on his deathbed? An unnamed source on a “Cool Quotes” board on Pinterest? Actually no, it was Arthur Gregg Sulzberger the chairman of The New York Times.

I’ve been slowly working my way through the 97 page New York Times Innovation Report since it leaked last month. It’s high drama akin to reality TV. Reality corporate existential crises are my jam because - like the Kardashians - it always comes down to people. Whether its in a large organisation or a private jet, how people navigate the regulated normality of everyday life to achieve a wider, less tangible ambition for the future is gripping stuff.

Maintaining his Yoda-esque proclamations, Sulzberger also said this, “We need a mindset shift that allows us to invest in things we think are important simply because we think they’re important”. Shift we must, indeed. Here at Wolff Olins, we’ve been working with a client who - like The New York Times - were so busy focusing on their day-to-day, they didn’t know how to begin to focus on their wider goals. They could see their future but not their place in it. Facing EU legislation, changing consumer expectations and new, nimble competitors, it’s no wonder that everything felt important. Our task was to guide them in how best to break it all down, prioritise investment and define a roadmap for transformation.

Making large-scale shifts in these types of organisations can’t happen overnight, nor should it. Of course we helped our client to define their vision and identify their objectives, but we also developed a series of small-scale projects that would signal change and kick-start an ambitious transformation. In short, we enabled them to sweat the big stuff by doing some useful small stuff.

Habits, rituals, routines. Behaviours, processes and structure. They all add up to something eventually. For us lot trying to live lovely, happy lives as well as big organisations looking to thrive in an uncertain future, finding the time to sweat the big stuff now and then is vital. Doing so reassures us that those little things are not only comforting but also meaningful, and that they’re getting us somewhere. “It is easier to do trivial things that are urgent that it is to do important things that are not urgent”. John Cleese said that one. Pop philosophy and a wafer thin mint, anyone?

Camilla Grey is a strategist at Wolff Olins London. 

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face

By Stefan Emrich

Strategy has come to pervade every aspect of our lives but its roots are in fact in the language of war. Sir L. Freedman, a professor of war studies at King’s College London, recently wrote a big book about this big topic: the history of strategy.

As it is always good to understand the roots of your profession, I went to a discussion of the book at the RSA to see if there are any relevant learnings for a brand strategist in the 21st century. And there were:

1. Live with uncertainty

According to Freedman, strategists have always tried to eliminate uncertainty and control the future by making plans that lead them to an aspired goal. However, this excludes an important aspect: Human beings and their nature of acting unpredictably. As Mike Tyson puts it: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”. So making plans is important, but constantly adapting and updating them to a changed environment even more so.

2. Be ironic

In the talk Freedman mentioned irony as a way to deal with uncertainty. This means thinking about potential failure and the consequences thereof.

Strategists definitely spend too little time thinking about scenarios where a strategy would fail. We do this as it is more convenient, there is too little time or because we simply want to ignore certain facts that don’t support our argument.

Dealing with these scenarios and exploring the weaknesses of a strategy will make a more flexible and future proof.

3. Never stop

Most war strategists worked towards a final goal, the victory in a ‘decisive battle’. This thinking neglects that reaching a goal inevitably opens up new questions and the way the goal was reached influences the nature of these new challenges.

Way too often, brand strategy is still seen as one-off project with external support and a defined end. Instead, clients should see brand strategy as an ongoing task for which they sometimes need external support and sometimes they don’t.

4. Form coalitions

Freedman sees coalitions rather as a secondary option if one cannot dominate or outsmart the competitors. This may have been true in the past centuries, but in today’s complex and fast moving world it is illusionary to be dominant in all relevant business areas.

In brand strategy it is absolutely crucial to identify the few areas where a brand can be dominant. However, it is maybe even more important to identify the right partners to extend the reach and capabilities of a brand, which often is the smartest way to reach your goals.

Freedman’s 750 pages are not a must for every strategist, but his main insights can help us to avoid the mistakes that were done in the past and are so easily repeated.

So let’s expect to be punched in the face and prepare a plan to get up on our feet!

Stefan Emrich is a senior strategist at Wolff Olins London. 

Image via The Guardian. 


Each of our interns is considered an integral part of the team. We expect you to contribute to all work, engage in projects and treat this as a real job. While doing this, you will learn from some of the most brilliant minds in branding. You’ll end the internship with real-world experience working with current and prospective clients at one of today’s boldest brand and innovation firms.

Email: Please send your resume and cover email to peoplenewyork@wolffolins.com
Subject Line: Intern_“INSERT TYPE FROM LIST BELOW”_Summer 2014

Please note: While we appreciate everyone’s interest in Wolff Olins, due to high number of applicants, we can only respond directly to those who best qualify and meet the specific criteria and standards of these roles. 

Deadline for intern applicants is March 20th.


We’re looking for an energetic, one-of-a-kind account management intern to work with our team in our New York City office. Working under our top account managers, you’ll support a range of client projects and gain real perspective on the many ways we help clients achieve their business and brand goals. You’ll get to:
• Creatively problem solve a diverse range of challenges, from keeping projects on-time and on-budget, to helping brainstorm and pin down that next ‘big idea’
• Collaborate closely with an eclectic group of experts in design, strategy and production
• Manage the many, many details that need to come together to create big impact


We’re looking for a kick-ass strategy/account management intern to work with our teams in San Francisco and New York. You’ll work on a range of internal and client projects, experiencing firsthand how brands are created and evolved. This internship is based in San Francisco.
You’ll get to: 

• Research into clients worlds and their competitors
• Look at macro trends
• Work with teams, helping to keep them organized and developing itineraries
• Provide background information and research to support new business pitches
• Help to identify potential partners here in the Bay Area

You should be:

• Super resourceful
• Tidy minded and organized
• Really likes people and working with people
• Happy to throw themselves in and roll their sleeves up 
• Curious about what is happening in the world 
• Ideally has some knowledge of the Bay Area

DESIGN NY and DESIGN SF (specify location)
We’re looking for two crazy, innovative, digital savvy design interns, one in NY and one in SF. There are no “junior” designers at Wolff Olins. Even our interns require a certain instinct and raw skill from the start. The work we aim to deliver is bold, ambitious and different. The primary role for an intern is to explore. This is the creative position freest from other responsibilities that come with longer tenure or seniority at Wolff Olins. Design interns should see this as an opportunity to learn and grow through collaboration and exposure to others on their teams. During the internship you’ll get to experiment and contribute to design solutions for a number of different clients.
We’re looking for someone who:
• Has strong graphic design and typography skills and experience in Adobe Creative Suite. 
• Really, really, creative!
• MUST have strong skills in MOTION (animation, 3D, film/editing) and/or digital prototyping a HUGE PLUS
• Curious about the world and passionate about brands
• Energetic and enthusiastic
• Collaborative and fun
• Experience in After Effects is a huge PLUS.

The business development intern will assist the US-based business development team with various projects, supporting the revenue generation plan for North America. The intern’s primary responsibility will be to identify and vet opportunities through research and analysis of companies in the news, as well as new business inquiries, and other in-coming opportunities. The intern will learn to craft an opportunity analysis to allow management to quickly and confidently assess promising opportunities, and then package research findings concerning qualified leads into a briefing kit for the pitch team. This individual will also help prepare sales collateral (for outreach and responses to requests for information) by creating and/or aggregating assets that leverage the most relevant content available in order to position Wolff Olins in the best possible light. Finally, based on the needs of the WO business development team, the intern will be assigned a project to complete in collaboration with interns from other disciplines. Requirements:
• Some knowledge of or exposure to business development in an agency environment or other professional services category
• Highly motivated with a passion for identifying new opportunities 
• Knowledgeable of the general business landscape 
• Analytic ability demonstrated by research skills 
• Interpersonal skills, sociable, confident
• Self starter, resourceful and able to work independently
• Proficient at using the entire Microsoft Office Suite especially PowerPoint and Excel
• Reliable, organized, detail-oriented
• Able to prioritize quickly and to readjust priorities throughout the day

We’re looking for an intern to work with our team in New York and liaise with counterparts in San Francisco and London. In this role, you’ll focus on creating content and contributing to social media platforms. You’ll gain hands-on experience creating, writing and promoting our thinking and work related to brand, business, technology and design. You’ll get to:
• Work with our global content manager on social media community management
• Partner with members of our marketing, new business and strategy teams to write and develop content for our owned channels (e.g. blog, newsletter, social media)
• Provide background information and research to support proactive media outreach

We’re looking for someone who is:

• Super resourceful
• Self-starter and proactive
• Strong writer
• Well versed in social networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook
• Curious about what’s happening in the world of business, technology and design
• Passionate about branding, marketing, business or communication

We’re looking for a digitally-minded strategy intern to work with our team in New York City on a range of client projects. You’ll play at the intersection of brand and technology, experiencing firsthand how brands are created and brought to life. 
You’ll get to: 

• Contribute to the development of brand strategies
Explore emerging technologies and help build new brand experiences
• Research and analyze markets, trends, and behaviors
Develop new business pitches and proposals

We’re looking for someone who is:

• On the pulse of technology + culture
• Fluent in the language of entrepreneurship + experience design

• Curious about the world + passionate about brands
• A clear + analytical thinker
• A great storyteller + strong writer

• Collaborative + fun!

We’re also interested in what you find interesting (beyond the bottom of your resume!), so if you have a blog, Twitter feed, portfolio or something else of that nature, we’d love to see it!


MakeShop 2013 from Wolff Olins on Vimeo.

Last week we held our first-ever MakeShop at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. The event was our excuse to get some of our favorite partners, clients, friends and family together to dive deeper in the behaviors we explored in our latest Game Changers report.

In the spirit of making, we worked with Henrik Werdelin and Philip Ingemann Petersen, of Prehype, the venture development firm that’s helped companies ranging from Verizon to News Corp incubate and spin out new businesses. We heard from Jake Barton, principal and founder of Local Projects, whose media design firm reinvents public space through collaborative storytelling experiences like Storycorps, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and Change By Us. And we wrapped up the day getting our hands dirty (as dirty as littleBits will get you) learning how to prototype our product ideas with Bethany Koby, the founder of Technology Will Save Us.

Check out our video from the day up there ^.

And keep following wolffolinsblog and  @wolffolins to hear about our next events. 

Play it right


By Harry Rosenbaum

With the winter Olympics in Sochi fast approaching, the issues surrounding these games are generating increasing attention. Russia’s oppression of human rights, specifically gay rights, has spurred outcry from a number of groups for a boycott by the United States team.  Team GB has received similar protests to their participation. Both countries have declined to withdraw, largely on the basis that it would be unfair to the athletes who have prepared their entire life for the event.  It seems a legitimate argument – the Olympics are central to the identity of many of these athletes and to deny them participation would be a cruel punishment to the wrong people.

In actuality, it’s choosing to participate in the Olympics that’s the bigger opportunity. Rather than stepping out of the spotlight, nations and brands can step into it – but with a message. Participating in the Olympics can bring human rights issues to the world stage in a positive and proactive way. President Obama put it quite well, “One of the things I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which would, I think, go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing there.” The US could bring the identities of these athletes to the forefront of its own Olympic brand – unifying in a celebration of the accomplishments of gay athletes, maybe even selecting a gay athlete as the flag bearer.  Such uplifting events could rally a global community in support of human rights.

A tactful engagement of other brands could help make the point. As gay rights have progressed in the United States, a number of brands have made a point to show their support.  By collaborating with these brands, the US team would fortify its own position.  A company like Kenneth Cole, Levis, or Banana Republic could design the ceremonial uniforms. JetBlue, Expedia, or Orbitz could be the official travel partner.  All the brand partners could be encouraged to bring their human rights advocacy to their team USA relationship in some way or another.  Could Nike modify the US flag on uniforms in some way? Or create a special version of the multicolor flyknit sneakers?

The United States is making the right decision by participating in the 2014 Olympics. Participation can send a powerful and poignant message.  It can convene and invigorate a community of advocates – from the biggest brand to the single person. And it can catalyze a massive, international push for equal rights. 

Harry Rosenbaum is a strategist at Wolff Olins New York. 

Illustration by the author


Advertising Week NYC

As we’re all finding out, consumers no longer simply consume. They’re active, skeptical, creative and entrepreneurial — and being an activist consumer is no longer a minority pursuit. This year, Wolff Olins and Flamingo have partnered to uncover consumer behaviors that are moving from the fringe to the mainstream.  On September 23, come join our conversation moderated by WIRED on the changing relationship between people and brands, why it can’t be ignored by marketers, and lessons that can help you profit from these cultural shifts.

The New Mainstream: How To Profit From Losing Control
Monday, September 23
10am @ BB Kings Blues Club

What new value can you create for people, and what new value can they create for you? Learn more or register here.

Quality is the new black


By Amy Lee 

Netflix is on a roll, right? House of Cards was catnip for West Wing withdrawal sufferers, Arrested Development whipped comedy nerds into a frenzy and now Orange is the New Black is taking TV (as we now know it) by storm. Even Ryan Seacrest was moved to humor on Twitter: “Orange is the new black is the new gluten free diet”.

So, what’s their secret? The creation of a TV hit is (I imagine) a complex mixture of talent, timing, funding and magic.  But the New York Times also identified a more fundamental variable that boils down to a shift in TV business models: from a “third-party-decider economy” to viewer-first. In short, where shows were traditionally created for “broad, unobjectionable appeal” to please advertisers, “Netflix predicates its model around the person watching the show, [and] needs to provide content that the viewer deems worthy of $7.99 a month”.

Good news for us as viewers. And just one example of a larger TV renaissance spearheaded by Netflix and HBO, but also embraced by broadcasting pioneers (like the BBC) and some cable players (see AMC). Technology that allows viewers to binge, time-shift, and watch on a variety of screens is encouraging a new type of TV. Storytelling can be longer form, less reliant on the episode-ending cliffhanger, more niche, less conventional. Stars, directors and writers can find freedom of expression not possible in the blockbuster rat race of movie making.

Is this the golden age of TV? Perhaps that’s a little hasty. From an economic point of view there’s still a long way to go before any one company breaks through the network strong-hold in the US (although Aereo is trying hard to trample that path). But there’s no doubt that TV is back on the map as place to go for quality entertainment. Because TV is finally putting us first, and it shows.

Amy Lee is a Senior Strategist at Wolff Olins New York.

Refinery29 launched new brand identity

Refinery29 was founded in 2005 with the idea of providing a highly curated, edited take on all things cool in New York City. Fast-forward 8 years later… Refinery29 has grown from local to global, from 4 to 120 (and counting), from start-up to one of the most visited lifestyle sites online – and one of Inc.’s fastest growing private companies in 2012.

Talk about growth at Internet speed!

Not only has Refinery29 deservedly garnered an avid community of users/consumers – they’ve been continually successful on the investment front, recently securing an additional $5.6M of private investment to help scale the business into new categories and new geographies. 

Today marks another historic moment in the company’s impressive track record – the launch of a redesigned website and new brand identity that reflects Refinery29’s ambition to keep pushing boundaries and challenging the conventions of what it means to be an online media business.



In the fall of 2012, Refinery29 asked Wolff Olins to help crystallize and position their brand for the next chapter of development and growth. The co-founding team was looking to establish both a strategy and an identity that better reflected who they are, where they came from and where they are going.

In a rapid three-month sprint, we worked hand-in-hand with the Refinery29 team to establish a clear brand strategy and decision-making filter to help guide internal beliefs and behaviors moving forward. We then used that strategy to inform the development of a bold, new identity – a process of collaboration and iteration, ultimately landing on a final expression that stays true to their cool kid core, while pushing them into the future. The mark itself is an evolution – an unexpected but magnetic mix of lines, curves, and alignment that caught our eyes from day 1 and over time came into its own, much like the brand it represents.



For Refinery29, this process was all about articulating and owning their inherent juxtapositions as a brand – how to defy the mainstream while defining the mainstream, how to get big and stay cool, how to be mass and stay indie – maximalist yet edited, how to be content and commerce, advertising and editorial – all at the same time. For a brand with such big ambition and opportunity, it’s only fitting to see them stand amongst a crowd of highly deserving peers.

It has been an absolute honor to collaborate with the Refinery29 team – we can’t wait to see what’s in store for them next!


Check out more about the launch here:

Ooh, Makeover! R29 Got A Major Revamp (R29)

Refinery 29 Rebrands For a Global Fashion Audience (FastCo)

Refinery 29 Evolves Into Lifestyle Platform (WWD)