OUR 18 FAVOURITE CREATIVE DESIGN AGENCIES

BRANDING

CONTENTS

10 min read

We wrote the post “our 10 favourite creative agencies” a long, long time ago. Way back in 2013 to be precise!

The world has made a lot more trips around the sun since we posted this article originally.

At the time, Tony (our director) was the only person working at Canny. Since then, we’ve grown into an agency ten times the size and so, we’ve now got a lot of different viewpoints to take into consideration.

Bottom line? We thought it was time for an update to our list of our favourite creative agencies.

In the interest of completeness, we’ll copy our write-up from 2013 into the end of this post too.

However:

Since writing our original list, a lot of those agencies are now dead in the water. Some have survived and one or two have even made it onto our updated list of our favourite creative agencies.

So, who made it onto the new list of our favourite creative agencies? Let’s find out:

Pentagram

Waze logo designed by Pentagram
Image from Design Week

How Pentagram wasn’t included in the list of our favourite creative agencies to start with is beyond me.

I’m blaming it on being young and naive to the world of branding back then!

For those that don’t know, Pentagram is one of the largest design firms in the world, with studios in Berlin, London, New York, Austin, and San Francisco.

Pentagram’s studios are all independently owned and operated, but all come together as part of the Pentagram brand.

Highly active on Instagram, every single thing that comes out of the agency is tremendous.

Picking a favourite project is impossible, so I’ve picked several.

Check out Pentagram’s work for:

These three projects alone will show you what some of the top creative thinkers in the world can do!

Focus Lab

Bilboard reading 'Rethink spreadsheets' for Rows project by Focus Lab
Image from Under Consideration

Focus Lab was on our original list of our favourite design agencies. And they remain one of my personal favourites.

Watching them evolve over the years has been an interesting journey.

Pioneers of the Dribbble platform, Focus Lab (and Bill Kenney in particular) shot to fame by creating striking, desirable brand identities that captured people’s imagination.

Since then, they’ve grown out a massive staff team from their Georgia based office space and they’ve picked up clients such as Adobe, Netflix, and Marketo along the way, too.

We may as well just make three the magic number, because there’s no way I can pick only one Focus Lab project to showcase.

Have a look at these 3 projects to get a sense of the depth and breadth of the creative work the Focus Lab team create:

Landor

Mock-up of 3 iPhone screens with dog, fish and mouse illustrations for PetBarn project by Landor
Image from Landor

Thousands of brands that people encounter every day were created by Landor. Brands such as Kellogg’s, British Airways, Volvic, BMW, Citroën, INTU, Jameson (we could go on) were all crafted at the hands of brand transformationists, Landor.

Whether they’re re-positioning companies with nearly 100 years heritage, creating interactive art showcases, developing restaurant concepts or delivering viral campaigns, there’s not much that Landor can’t do.

Check out some of our favourite projects below:

DesignStudio

PremierLeague visual identity by DesignStudio
Image from The Brand Identity

We can forgive DesignStudio for having probably one of the best URLs ever, because truthfully, they deserve it. No big deal really, these guys have only really worked with small-timers like Evernote, Depop, the Premier League, Deliveroo, Airbnb, HelloFresh… oh, who are we kidding. These guys are the sh*t.

DesignStudio goes the extra mile to ‘create brands the world loves’. For instance, to get a proper insight into the Airbnb community, DesignStudio travelled to 13 cities to research locations, users and hosts. We look forward to the day when that kind of trip is considered ‘business’. As a result, the tagline ‘Belong Anywhere’ was born.

Here’s some of our favourites:

Red Antler

Purple background with Hinge app mascot Hingie reading 'Fall in love. Delete Hinge.' designed by Red Antler
Image from The Drum

The Red Antler founders were part of Inc.’s most influential entrepreneurs list a while back. The only person above them on the list? Elon Musk. No biggie.

And it’s easy to see why, really. Their case studies are epic – let alone the actual work. As a sneaky way to show you 4 examples rather than just 3, check out this as the epitome of a full-service project, encompassing Brand Strategy, Naming, Brand Identity, Brand Messaging, Digital Experience, Engineering, Photography, Creative Production, Industrial Design, Packaging Design and Retail.

And here’s some of our other faves. (Disclaimer: Hingie is one of favourite creations ever, the Red Antler Creative Director said of the brand’s adorable mascot: “The goal was for our audience to feel affection for Hingie, while at the same time rooting for his death.” Our Content Strategist officially died and went to wordy heaven when she discovered the Hinge messaging – she’d have wanted me to tell you that.)

Dixon Baxi

3 ESPN billboards on a street designed by Dixon Baxi
Image from Dixon Baxi

Trusted by just a few of the world’s best known brands such as Audible, AT&T, ViacomCBS, V&A, British Land, Capital One, Premier League, WWE, IMAX, Paradox Interactive, Channel 4, Eurosport, Netflix and AC Milan… it’s fair to say the team at Dixon Baxi know what they’re doing.

From a duo of, well, 2 – to around 35 today, Dixon Baxi are a London-based agency with a huge global presence.

With an open-source monograph and even a feature film that premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival in New York, I guess you could call these lot somewhat of a big deal. Here’s some of our Dixon Baxi highlights:

Ragged Edge

Whirli brand identity created by Ragged Edge
Image from The Drum

We’d sort of assume that anyone working in the branding space would be popping on the Ragged Edge site for inspiration more times than they care to admit. We see you, bookmarked tabs ?

From bold, brilliantly-executed concepts to messaging that just works (case in point Bulb ‘positive energy’), Ragged Edge have produced some truly stand-out brands. Here’s some of our faves:

Ueno

Visual identity of Copper created by Ueno,
Image from Under Consideration

Ever wondered which lucky design agency gets tasked with jobs like creating Santa’s village for Google, overhauling the Lonely Planet website or redesigning Slack’s user interface? Well, that someone is Ueno. With agencies in San Francisco, New York, LA and Reykjavík, Ueno don’t take themselves too seriously, which is one of the reasons why we love them.

The other reasons are that they do some bloody delicious work with some of the world’s tastiest clients. They have a tone of voice to die for, a website that just makes our soul a little happier. Oh, and they’ve also pledged to donate at least $1m to charity over the next 10 years.

They host their own annual creativity “conference” amongst other Ueno⁠-⁠related events, they have a site dedicated to their team’s design inspiration and they have a pretty damn cool online store, too.

Check out some of their dreamy work:

Mother Design

TripAdvisor logo on green background created by MotherDesign
Image from Mother Design

Mother Design does some really lush and clever work. Whether it’s a series of Instagram posts encouraging people to dial down the pressure during the COVID pandemic, or big billboard campaigns that are impossible to ignore – Mother Design know how to combine mouthwatering visual identities with thought-provoking messaging.

It was hard to pick just 3, but we particularly love these projects:

Fueled

Fueled Creative Design Agency

Fueled are an award winning mobile app and development company based in New York City. Their team is made up of members from around the globe, including Newcastle’s own internet celebrity Rob Palmer. The creative app agency have worked with some of the world’s biggest companies including; Porsche, P&G, Ducati and The Chicago Bulls.

Carrot Creative

Carrot Creative Design Agency

I’ve been following the work of Carrot Creative for a few years now after becoming impressed with the “How to get here if…you’re riding a dinosaur” directions on their contact page. It was through Jacob Cass that I heard of Carrot and I’ve been watching their work ever since. They’ve worked with some great clients, from Disney through to Red Bull.

Engage Interactive

Engage Interactive Creative Design Agency

The creative scene in Leeds is thriving. It’s where I studied for my degree and it was a hotbed for exciting new creative agencies. Engage Interactive have just recently moved into the fantastic Duke Studios and the work they produce is outstanding. Engage have produced some tasty looking work for food chains such as Cafe Rouge, Strada and Bella Italia.

Landor Associates

Landor Associates Branding Design Agency

Landor Associates have branded some of the biggest companies in existence including BP, FedEx and Smirnoff. Early in 2012, Landor rebranded DC Comics which lead to a lot of controversy in the comic book universe. Some loved it, some hated, others thought it looked suspiciously similar to the Discovery History logo. Either way, Landor produce some great work that can’t be ignored.

Happy Cog

Happy Cog Creative Design Agency

Happy Cog is the brainchild of Twitter celebrity Jeffrey Zeldman. They’ve worked with awesome companies like MTV and Zappos to produce some fantastic design work. They recently worked on the O Music Awards brand, developing the brand aesthetics and a fully responsive, user-centric website. They have a ton of great case studies on their site, which display perfectly what they’re all about.

I Love Dust

I Love Dust Creative Design Agency

I Love Dust were one of my biggest inspirations when I was going through my college years. They produce consistently brilliant illustrations, packaging and branding for clients such as Nike and Absolut Vodka. However, my favourite piece of I Love Dust’s work is their own self-promotional branding created in the form of a butcher’s packaging.

Ptarmak

Ptarmak Branding Design Agency

Ptarmak are a design agency based in Austin, USA. They create exciting and retro/vintage looking branding for businesses. We’ve featured some of their work for on the Canny Creative design blog before, but they add so many exciting new projects to their site, it’s hard to keep up!

WonderEight

Wondereight Branding Design Agency

WonderEight are the creative agency behind the Classic Burger Joint branding. WonderEight are based in Beirut, Lebanon and produce brilliant branding for a variety of companies the world over. Beyond their work for Classic Burger Joint, I love their work for Uptown 966.

No Entry Design

No Entry Graphic Design Agency

At the time of writing this, No Entry are busy redeveloping their own site, so you’ll have to wait a short while to click through their amazing portfolio.

Conclusion: Our 18 Favourite Creative Design Agencies

There are many great creative design agencies around the world, each doing their own thing.

We’ll update this list over time, as agencies change, move, merge, and all sorts of other shenanigans!

What makes these agencies special to us, is that we’ve seen their work grow and change over time. I feel like I’ve been on their journey with them.

Have we covered your favourite creative agency? Let us know what you think of the work or offer a suggestion in the comments below.