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Spain's best kept academic secret.


Founded in Barcelona in 1958, with campuses in Madrid and Barcelona, IESE is the leading business school in Spain. However, throughout the 90s IESE was considered ‘Spain’s best-kept academic secret’, failing to achieve the international recognition it deserved. IESE was seen as merely a competent educator that failed to produce the leading minds in business.


Wolff Olins was asked to define what made IESE different from other business schools around the world. We had to identify IESE’s strengths and unique character and reinforce the brand in the global market. We also had to emphasise the international nature of the school without renouncing its heritage. Our research identified the core element that made IESE unique: its approach to people.

This approach was reflected in its teaching, its recruitment, its faculty, its attitude and its values. In fact people were at the heart of everything IESE did. This difference was simply expressed as: ‘We put people first.’ With this brand idea, we identified a set of six values that defined the way IESE did things. These had to be reflected in the behaviour and attitude of the organisation, and clearly expressed in the look of the brand.


The brand has given IESE the worldwide recognition it always deserved, and it has allowed the organisation to strengthen its global position. For instance, in August 2001, it confirmed two new alliances with leading US business schools: MIT Sloan School of Management and Wharton. IESE’s ranking, according to the Financial Times, rose from 24th in 2001 to 11th in 2008, making it one of the top business schools in the world.