WeWorkhorse: Franklyn’s future-facing, vibrant rebrand for WeWork puts character and customer first
“WeWork has always been a design-driven company,” Franklyn’s Creative Director & Co-founder, Michael Freimuth, tells us, “with very intentional choices when it comes to architecture, interior design and customer experience,” contextualising the NYC-based creative studio’s brand overhaul of workspace giant, WeWork. “However, we felt like this hadn’t really been carried forward as much in some aspects of its visual identity,” Freimuth continues, “and the wordmark in particular,” illuminating the systematic and visual changes Franklyn made to better align with the company’s design-driven DNA.
“The original mark hadn’t been given much consideration from a craft perspective,” Design Director Jelle Maréchal recalls, noting that, despite its charm, the mark’s overall construction didn’t live up to WeWork’s functionality and thoughtfulness. “The kerning was inconsistent, and the curves were wobbly,” Maréchal remarks, “almost as if it had been scanned from an old newspaper,” resulting in inconsistent and lacklustre appearances across small or digital applications. “Overall, it felt like it was from a different era. This refinement and consideration felt almost necessary, and we were happy to oblige,” he adds, speaking of Franklyn’s intention to realign the aesthetic and conceptual identity of the coworking brand with its leadership in the space.
Indicative of the level of care WeWork offers its audience – likewise, mirroring the brand’s emphasis on detail and functionality shared with Franklyn – the identity saw a change from Aperçu Pro to bespoke typeface, WeWork Serif, crafted in collaboration with California-based design studio A+. “WeWork has a lot of equity in that serif ‘look’ of the logo,” Maréchal clarifies, becoming a synonymous, marked voice within the brand. “Redrawing the mark not only inspired us to expand it into a full-fledged typeface,” he continues, “but perhaps more importantly, allows WeWork to infuse its voice throughout messaging and communications,” doing so in a subtle yet ultimately affecting way.
“So while the new typeface ‘WeWork Serif’ is actually based on our new redrawn logo,” he notes, “it is also completely original,” not only unifying the brand’s typographic output but imbuing a compelling softness and sensitivity. “It’s something they felt the brand’s expression had lost over the years,” Maréchal suggests, noting that, “there’s a level of sophistication it brings that wasn’t necessarily present when just one sans serif typeface was being used,” ensuring WeWork is a future-facing brand, and not one stuck in the past.
Discussing the topic of bespoke typefaces, Maréchal – in praise of A+ – calls on the undeniable, ineffable integration it offers a brand and its visual identity. “Besides the above mentioned benefits of language merged with brand,” he explains, “having this bespoke typeface is an easy way for the hundreds of WeWork community managers worldwide,” of which most are untrained designers, “to create something that’s distinctly WeWork,” all through an accessible, straightforward system of tools. Given the licensing costs for a large organisation like WeWork, having a proprietary typeface is also a cost-effective solution, affording the brand something both economically and conceptually favourable.
Punctuating WeWorks visual output, Franklyn’s in-house illustrations complement the familiar forms of the identity’s wordmark, bringing a tactile, personal touch to the sizable brand, manifesting in ‘doodle-like’ scribble characters. “They were really meant to show the dynamic nature of WeWork’s diverse members,” Maréchal tells us, hoping to show a more freeform, less precious brand output – one led by a personal, gestural nature. “They also needed to contrast with the second layer of our illustration system,” he adds, “the clean ‘symbols’ that are layered below the illustrations, that represent WeWork as a ‘platform’,” which the illustrations live upon.
Along with the well-defined visual system, Franklyn delivered a set of guidelines for WeWork to utilise later down the line, alongside a number of additional directions, including where and how to use the brand’s extensive colour palette, and why. “Black and white were the core colours for WeWork before we started this project,” Maréchal recollects, detailing how the brand sought to keep it as its base layer, but with more colour atop it. “We introduced four new colours based on various personality traits of the brand,” Maréchal concludes, allowing the WeWork team to opt for “the appropriate expression based on if they want to communicate in a trustworthy, elevated, empowering or welcoming way,” bringing the brand together in a cohesive, chromatic way.