Remembering a giant: Wally Olins 1930 – 2014

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We’re saddened at Siegel+Gale by the passing of branding giant Wally Olins. The brand-building world has been blessed with few figures so influential that we’re on a first names basis with them. Four come to my mind — Wally, Alan, Walter and Walter. And those of us who have learned from them first hand, who have seen them blow up obfuscation and pretension, and now practice governed by their philosophies know how profoundly fortunate we are.

Here at Siegel+Gale, since 1969 it’s been our founder (and now Chairman Emeritus) Alan storming that, “Incremental change is pernicious! Beware of middle-management types afraid of their own shadows. You must simplify, streamline and clarify everything.” At Wolff Olins it was Wally who conceived the breakthrough ideas that define many of today’s branding practices. Alan and Wally were competitors and friends, debating each other heatedly (and gleefully) at 1980s London design events, and recently speaking jointly in Moscow to rapt audiences of young creatives. Both earned fame for passion, impatience, contrarian opinions, sharpness of thought and the impact their firms made on their clients’ businesses.

We’re grateful for Wally’s contributions. He left a legacy for us all—one of intellectual curiosity and experimentation.

Howard Belk is Co-CEO and chief creative officer of Siegel+Gale. Follow him on Twitter: @HowardBelk

 

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