Given the significance of our group’s identity revamp, we have chosen to highlight an interview featured in Dare! Magazine. In this insightful conversation, Charlotte Rambaud, Global Chief Communications Officer, Havas, Christian de la Villehuchet, Global Chief Integration Officer, Havas, and Thom Newton, Global CEO, Conran Design Group, to delve into the details of refresh our iconic brand.
Christian de la Villehuchet: This is a pretty special moment in Havas’ history, isn’t it? An updated and modernised brand and a simplified brand architecture model.
Charlotte Rambaud: It really is. To unveil our new brand marks a defining moment in our almost 200-year history. It’s been a huge project involving many stakeholders – starting with Yannick Bolloré, Donna Murphy and Peter Mears – and has been delivered at lightning speed by the team at Conran Design Group. But it’s one that was imperative from both a business and brand point of view. We have the most integrated and collaborative offering of the industry; we have one name, Havas, and 70+ Villages around the world. We share one vision around meaningfulness and the same entrepreneurial spirit. And we’re very proud to be part of Vivendi, a global leader in media, entertainment and communications. But our existing brand and brand architecture weren’t communicating this.
Christian: We’d become fragmented and confused to internal and external audiences – possibly because we’ve always wanted Havas agencies and operating companies to maintain their entrepreneurialism and have their own sense of self-expression. But clients were struggling to understand how to navigate us as a network – struggling to know about the different services we offer and how we work together as one organisation. And we’re a client-facing communications group – our brand has an active relationship with clients, which is a big differentiator for us.
Charlotte: As well as needing an optimised navigation and brand architecture, we also needed to increase our differentiation and ensure the Havas brand strongly projects its ‘meaningful’ positioning and focus on content, media and entertainment.
Christian: Yes, and the first challenge was around simplifying our architecture and positioning – and becoming more client-centric as a result. That was what compelled us to reach out to Thom and the Conran Design Group team in July last year.
Thom Newton: In our initial meeting, we all agreed that we needed to make the Havas brand a more meaningful business asset – it had lost its way and wasn’t working as hard as it could to help clients navigate services and to demonstrate to clients and talent why Havas is one of the world’s leading global communications groups.
Christian: This wasn’t about changing our positioning or our culture, but about magnifying these as brand differentiators, along with our name and the Village philosophy, which is the embodiment of our collaborative spirit.
Thom: We needed to elevate and protect the Havas brand, the Havas networks and differentiating components like the Village model. These were being obscured by
so many different variations of the Havas brand, as well as sub-brands and promotional initiatives. Havas was struggling to present itself as a singular global entity and struggling to be clear about its difference in the marketplace. We needed to create a unified brand architecture to put the focus back on Havas, clarifying the structure of our offer – both internally and externally.
If I’m honest, it wasn’t the most straightforward of brand architecture projects, partly because of definitions that had become blurred over time. Before we did anything else, we had to make sure we were all aligned on terminology. Then, it was about moving away from a world where everything needed a new logo – to a world where the Havas brand DNA is suffused through everything we do. The new approach brings coherence to the Group and allows key differentiators such as the Village and Meaningful Brands to stand out.
We talked to over a dozen CMOs of Havas’ biggest clients to get their thoughts on the clarity of service offering. Now, rather than being presented with a confusing mix of business divisions, networks and operating companies on Havas.com, clients will be able to navigate to the Havas partner they need via nine core services. Easier to understand for clients, partners and talent.
Charlotte: The visual identity looks brilliant, too. Seeing that coming to life is going to be really exciting…
Thom: Yes, definitely. We’ve elevated the visual identity in a number of ways: we’ve optimised the distinctive Havas Red, created a new characterful but modern logotype, introduced new supporting typefaces and revised our approach to the use of graphic elements like photography and colour. We’ve also introduced a 25-degree angle into the system that signifies positive momentum; the angle stems from the marque itself but runs into the wider design system, giving agencies and creative departments more to work with in design terms. From a Village perspective, we now have one global Havas Village brand to unify the 72 Villages, but with the flexibility that allows teams to personalise by city or region, according to local culture, market context and influence.
Charlotte: The new brand is all about positive upward momentum, which I think has been conveyed in a way that’s simple, iconic and timeless. The brand marque is a multiplier – it speaks to what we offer through the Village philosophy, our positioning around meaningfulness, and our link to Vivendi.
Thom: And getting to this point was achieved within a tight timeframe. We shared four initial concepts with the steering group and the Havas Executive Committee in December; the chosen route was felt to balance the premium quality and sophistication of Havas with a sense of dynamism and modernity.
Christian: I think it’s fair to say that we’ve got big ambitions for the brand: it’s going to play a crucial role in helping us become the most meaningful and integrated communications group in the world. And it’s an exciting collective responsibility that we now share: getting behind the new brand to harness its potential to make us even more client-centric and differentiated – and treating it as the business asset that it needs to be. And we’ll soon start to see it consistently brought to life across Village environments – from Madrid to Singapore, New York to Mexico – which really will be special!