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Superbrands case studies: Landor

Originally published in Business Superbrands 2002. The book reviews the UK's strongest Business-Business brands as judged by the independent Business Superbrands Council.

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Case study provided by the Superbrands organisation.


Businesses can not afford to ignore the power of their brands in the modern economy. Branding is crucially important in attracting customers and business. It is not just a matter of a logo -- it is about a central promise which cements every aspect of the business -- from the identity to the values, to the relationship it has with its customers and staff, and right through to how it is communicated through every channel of the business. Branding and corporate identity are now recognised as central and essential components of business success - a way of communicating a truly relevant and differentiating promise to consumers - and companies now automatically invest in building, maintaining, nurturing and measuring their brands.

As a result, the branding consultancy and design business has enjoyed rapid growth during the 1990s. Agencies specialising in brand consultancy and design have become increasingly high-profile players in the UK marketing services sector, attracting more than £1 billion in annual revenues.

A true definition of a brand consultancy is hard to come by, as they specialise in a plethora of disciplines, including strategy, design, research and internal communications, as well as management and internet consulting. Landor is amongst the leading global players in the branding consultancy market. In the UK, it main competitors include Enterprise IG, Futurebrand, Interbrand, Wolff Olins and Fitch.


Landor is the Business Superbrand that brands Business Superbrands. In Business Superbrands Volume 1, Landor helped create and manage the brands for many of the entrants, including ABTA, Andersen Consulting, Compaq, FedEx, Microsoft, Reuters, Visa and Xerox. In this volume, Landors' clients include Accenture, Caterpillar and Microsoft.

In an influential brand valuation survey conducted by Interbrand and Business Week (The World's Most Valuable Brands 2001), Landor's pre-eminence is demonstrated by the fact that the company worked with 13 of the top 25 brands in that survey.

Landor's professionalism, authority and expertise in airline branding has helped it establish a strong reputation in this area. It is known as the airline world's favourite branding consultancy -- having rebranded more than 30 airlines in as many years. The most recent example of this is the 2001 relaunch of British Midland as bmi british midland. Landor's touch can be seen across the entire brand expression from the aircraft livery to lounges, signage, in-flight entertainment, right through to how staff meet and greet their customers.

Other notable projects in 2001 include the complex relaunch of Andersen Consulting as Accenture. The Sunday Business newspaper paid tribute to the project, saying "Accenture's rebranding has been hailed from the inside as a textbook success, moving the firm seamlessly from one identity to another."

Landor has also established ongoing long-term branding and design partnerships with the UK's number one grocery brand Walkers; the UK's most profitable business in 2000, BP; the UK's biggest consumer brand, The National Lottery; global courier company, FedEx; technology giants Lucent Technologies and Microsoft; and France Telecom. Landor's strength in its market is demonstrated by its strong sector position. Its UK turnover lept by 30% between 1999 and 2000 to £13,586m, confirming its Top Ten status in Marketing Magazine's 2001 Design League Tables.

Globally, Landor's success has helped it build a staff of 863 people, generating a worldwide income of £123.66m.


Landor Associates has been in branding for 60 years. The company was founded in San Francisco in 1941 by German expatriate Walter Landor, who is widely regarded as a pioneer in the development of branding and design as a strategic business tool. Walter steadily built Landor over the following decades to become a truly international branding and design consultancy, opening offices in Europe, Asia, Latin America and across the US.

Landor's brand mark is a boat, the Klamath. Built in 1924, the Klamath was a working ferryboat on San Francisco Bay for 32 years until it was retired in 1956. Walter Landor found the Klamath sitting in mudflats, and purchased it at a bankruptcy sale for US$12,000. From 1964 until 1987, Landor's corporate headquarters were aboard the Klamath, which provided an innovative atmosphere that inspired the imagination of both employees and guests. The Klamath rapidly became the destination of choice for visiting celebrities, dignitaries as well as Landor clients. Author Tom Wolfe once dubbed the Klamath 'the flagship of design'. Renowned for its parties, the Klamath attracted the likes of Marshall McLuhan, George C Scott, Andy Warhol and the Grateful Dead during its heyday.

In 1988, Landor outgrew the Klamath and moved to new headquarters. The Klamath is now owned by the Duraflame Corporation, yet its image as Landor's own corporate symbol still remains an icon of creativity and innovation.

Landor's first European office was opened in London in 1984, and today it is the largest integrated office outside North America. In 1989, Landor was acquired by marketing group, Young & Rubicam, which was subsequently aquired by WPP in 2000, further establishing its international capabilities and credentials.

Milestone projects over the past sixty years include the creation of Levi's famous 'batwing' identity; redesigning British Airways' identity prior to its privatisation in 1984; helping Pepsi go 'blue'; and the identities for the Atlanta, Nagano and Salt Lake City Olympic Games.


Landor's core business of branding can best be described as the process of helping clients define, create, nurture, and sustain a beneficial, mutually rewarding relationship with their customers. Regardless of how it is attained, a successful brand is one that generates an "unfair share" of loyalty and affection because it provides a level of belief, belonging, quality, trust, convenience, assurance and allure for which customers are willing to pay a premium.

Landor takes a holistic approach to brand creation and management, using strategic insight, research, design, naming, packaging, environmental and digital branding and internal brand building initiatives to help companies transform and communicate with all their many varied customers in a way that is relevant and unique. As a result, Landor is able to create and build brand power worldwide for corporate, consumer, environmental and interactive brands.

Landor believes a brand must be -- and remain -- special and different. It helps its clients identify and define that uniqueness, and then helps them communicate, manage, implement and measure it.

Increased emphasis on a newly brand-centric economy is a consequence of new strategic thinking - the world is characterised by demand-led rather than supply-led business planning. Thus 'owning the customer' is more important than owning production capabilities; effective branding is all about making and then delivering a promise which is special and different, lasting and credible.

Landor helps the most successful brands to break away from their categories by powerfully, consistently and attractively projecting a clear set of values and beliefs, driven by compelling insights into consumers' wants and needs. It works with hundreds of clients on six continents in twenty offices, combining the resources of a global company with the accessibility and familiarity of local markets.

Located in Clerkenwell, Landor London works with a range of B2B and consumer clients including: bmi british midland, BP, Thames Water, RWE, Camelot/The National Lottery, Land Rover, Accenture, Le Meridien, Walkers, Alfa Laval, DeLaval, Altria (formerly Philip Morris) and Nordea.

Recent developments

Since its foundation, Landor has always searched for new ways to supplement and enhance its strategic and creative services. As such, Landor's service base is continually developed so that it can more fully deliver its promise to help its clients build the world's most powerful brands.

In recent times it has extended its offer to include a broad range of brand management services. These include extensive brand equity studies, tracking the performance of brands and brand investments. Landor helps clients manage their brand assets, organisationally and technologically. Other new developments include advising clients on methods to ensure internal engagement with brand promises -- helping employees live and champion the brand.

In July 2001, Landor was appointed by Land Rover to undertake a global brand review and development programme, working in partnership with parent agency Y&R Advertising in a long-term, cross-discipline global relationship with Land Rover.


As a professional services firm, Landor appreciates that the quality of its service is directly related to the quality of its reputation. Its own brand reputation opens doors and gives it a head start in demonstrating its capabilities.

Landor wants to be seen as the authority in its field and, as such, takes an active role in initiatives which help it enhance this reputation. These include conference speaking, entering and judging awards, leading efforts to raise professional standards, university and student initiatives, bursaries, student placements and media relations.

As an expert in branding, Landor grows its business through the magnetism of its brand and ensures that its communications clearly reflect its values and positioning.

As a global firm, Landor uses its internet site as a shop window. The majority of its potential clients and colleagues visit the site to assess Landor's capabilities and gain an insight into its unique approach.

Brand values

Landor believes in change; the power of transformation and ambition; the commitment to transcend. The company's authority, courage and cosmopolitan qualities represent real benefits for its clients, by encouraging them to grow their brands "beyond the mark", committed to the belief that a brand is much more than a badge.

Landor is a community of experts determined to help clients achieve business transformation through brand actions, behaviours and communications. It provides services which effect change from top to bottom -- from intent to implementation.

The culture is founded upon these values and principles. As for any professional services firm, Landor's culture is what makes it truly special and different.

Things you didn't know

  • All Landor offices worldwide now refer to the Klamath -- the ferry boat which was the company's global HQ until 1987. Landor's London office has been designed to look like a boat both internally and externally.

  • Walter Landor was the father of modern day brand market research. He converted his office on the Klamath into a mini supermarket where he questioned housewives on their reasons for purchasing one brand rather than another. He then integrated this research into his design solutions.

  • Since 1998, 10% of the workforce have left Landor London -- but then returned to work for the company again.

  • In the mid 1980s, an FT journalist visited the Landor London office to do some interviews about the BA rebranding. He later became managing director of Landor London.

  • Walter Landor's contributions to the global development of branding and design as a discipline are so well regarded that in 1994 The Landor Design Collection was permanently housed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

    © 2002 Superbrands Ltd

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