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Design agencies and studios on Twitter

It’s common business sense to follow what’s happening in the design world. So for you smart folk who are reading my blog, here’s some help in the form of the most notable agencies and studios using Twitter to their advantage. But not all get it right.

Design agencies and studios on Twitter

160over90

160over90

Twitter: @160over90
Website: 160over90
This Philadelphia-based branding agency “tweets” news, thoughts, and links that you wouldn’t find through their website. Nicely done. Their award-winning identity for Woodmere Art Museum also gets a thumbs up.

300million

300million

Twitter: @300million
Website: 300million
This agency in London produces stellar work. Friendly people, too — they’ll be featured in my upcoming book. After two months of fairly regular tweets between June and July, they’ve now stopped updates.

Brandient

Brandient

Twitter: @Brandient
Website: Brandient
Established in 2002, this is the first dedicated brand consultancy on the Romanian market. Not all tweets are in English, although it’s clear they actively engage with followers — a good sign.

BrandLogic

BrandLogic

Twitter: @BrandLogicNY
Website: BrandLogic
An award-winning brand agency in New York and Los Angeles, showing case studies from Pepsi, Texaco, IBM and many more. Mainly self-promotional tweets on an occasional basis, with some “retweets” of brand-related news.

Coudal Partners

Coudal Partners

Twitter: @Coudal
Website: Coudal Partners
Branded with the surname of founder Jim, exciting projects have sprung from this Chicago-based design, advertising, and interactive studio. Tweets are often personal in nature, and there’s a good level of interaction with followers. How it should be done.

CoreBrand

CoreBrand

Twitter: @CoreBrand
Website: CoreBrand
Specialising in corporate brands, the Twitter profile is seldom updated, and then it’s simply to highlight their web articles. With that said, they’re doing more than some.

Duffy & Partners

Duffy

Twitter: @Duffy_Partners
Website: Duffy & Partners
New entry to the list, on 30 September 2009. Duffy is just getting into the Twitter game. I’m sure others will follow suit.

FutureBrand

FutureBrand

Twitter: @FutureBrand
Website: FutureBrand
FutureBrand has a huge global presence, offering brand strategy and experience. Their profile is a placeholder with no updates (not even a hello). Two thumbs down.

Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Twitter: @H_FJ
Website: Hoefler & Frere-Jones
Not your typical design studio, and more specifically a type foundry. Hoefler & Frere-Jones works with leading brands to develop original typefaces, also licensing some fantastic fonts from a library of nearly 1,000 designs. Tweets are engaging and personable. Nice.

Interbrand

Interbrand

Twitter: @InterbrandNY
Website: Interbrand
What started in 1974 has grown into a 40-office brand behemoth. This is the Twitter profile for the New York office, and I like what they’re doing.

Landor

Landor

Twitter: @landor_dot_com
Website: Landor
Creators of the gorgeous visual identity system for Melbourne City, one of my favourite recent works. Friendly tweets, helping add some online social character to the organisation.

Moving Brands

Moving Brands

Twitter: @movingbrands
Website: Moving Brands
Controversially creating a call for spec work for their London identity pitch, Moving Brands might not be everyone’s favourite, but there’s no denying their calibre of work. RTs, @replies, and friendly chat. A great example.

Pentagram Design

Pentagram

Twitter: @pentagramdesign
Website: Pentagram
A bastion of design, the Pentagram partners have collaborated to create visual identities we see around us every day — Citi, Nissan, The Guardian… Their tweets are one-way, but the stream is regularly updated sharing some quality linkage.

Siegel+Gale

Siegel+Gale

Twitter: @SiegelGale
Website: Siegel+Gale
With a client list similar to a “who’s who” of the business world, the firm employs more than 200 people in the US, UK, and UAE. Very infrequent updates, but a few interesting links.

smashLAB

smashLAB

Twitter: @smashLAB
Website: smashLAB
Headed by Eric Shelkie and Eric Karjaluoto, I’ve grown particularly fond of the latter’s personal blog ideasonideas. Friendly updates, although not very often. “Karj” has a personal profile worth following @karj.

Sterling Brands

Sterling Brands

Twitter: @SterlingBrands
Website: Sterling Brands
Design intelligence personified. Experts in strategy and global positioning, with AIGA president Debbie Millman one of the partners in the firm. The Twitter profile is relatively new, but like with smashLAB, there are personal profiles on the go e.g. @debbiemillman.

Wolff Olins

Wolff Olins

Twitter: @WolffOlins
Website: Wolff Olins
140 people in London, New York, and Dubai, Wolff Olins have worked on strategic projects for the likes of GE, Sony Ericsson, and Amnesty International. Friendly, regular updates about branding and topics of more general interest.

Social media management

The rate at which social media tools are are being adopted for business is phenomenal. “Social media management” is incorporated into specific agency job descriptions, detailing responsibility for ego searches, profile updating, online communications etc.

Sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, take on lesser importance, operating a “closed”, permission-based system that requires you to “know” the people you interact with. Twitter, on the other hand, is an “open” platform where anyone can see what you publish, and they don’t need their own account to do so. It’s infinitely more transparent, helping to build trust, relationships, and drive web-traffic.

As yet there’s no Chermayeff & Geismar. No Minale Tattersfield. No Johnson Banks or Lippincott. At the very least, they should be “listening” to what’s happening on Twitter, and I’d be surprised if they aren’t.

Any other notable absentees, with or without a profile?

You can find me @DavidAirey and @LogoDesignLove

My second book on Amazon

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31 comments about “Design agencies and studios on Twitter”

  1. Although not as high profile as these agencies, http://twitter.com/mayhemstudios (Calvin Lee) is someone worth following. He is the retweet king!

  2. Thanks for including Brandient. Cheers from Eastern Europe!

  3. I’m just getting into this part of my self-promotion. I think it can be a hard line to walk, especially for big companies, they don’t have the option of tweeting anything too personal because they are a representation of a whole (Pentagram for example). So they will run the risk of seeming impersonal or cold.
    But as lonely freelancers it is nice to reach out to a community for help and support, but finding that business/personal balance is tricky.

    I’d agree with the mayhem studios recommendation, and add one of my own http://twitter.com/imjustcreative

  4. It’s a shame an office like FutureBrand doesn’t update their profile. I think they could have a huge following.

    I definitely agree with including “social media management” in someone’s job description. It’s got to be a personal PR representative that can share news about what’s going on in the studio. I think Moving Brands has done a fabulous job, especially with their pitch for London’s brand.

  5. From all I’ve read/heard about Cal (plus some emails between us), he comes across as a great guy. But I had to stop following him because his tweets were drowning out everyone else. I purposefully limit the number of people I follow so I can pay attention to what they’re saying. Otherwise it seems a bit hollow.

    Good point about balance, Ken. You’ll come unstuck if you try to be someone you’re not (which is why it can be difficult for large companies who aren’t just tweeting the view of one person).

    Kit, my pleasure. I just discovered Brandient when putting this post together, but I’m going to stop back over and browse the portfolio. What seems like a bit of a trend is how agency partners like you have their own separate blogs and Twitter profiles.

    I agree, Kenny. FutureBrand could make quite a deal from a Twitter presence.

  6. Twitter has been an interesting phenomenon to watch grow and be a part of. Part of that interest is certainly following companies and idols, but for me one of the best parts has been the illustration style that has propagated based on Yiying Lu’s work. The rendition posted here is particularly interesting. Nice find.

  7. Nice list…thanks for putting it together. I am humbled that you included BrandLogic and also appreciative of the constructive feedback. Honestly, it’s been tough to find the time to contribute more, but your list has inspired me to make the time.

    Thanks again!

  8. I had to Google Yiying Lu, James, and wasn’t aware she created the “fail whale” illustration. Thanks for the tip. I found the rendition at the top of this post particularly relevant, given some of the heavyweights listed.

    Larry, it’s a pleasure. So you know, I originally came across BrandLogic through a link in the Identity Works “tools” section. And a thanks to you, too, for the tweet. All the best.

  9. @David – I’ve had the same issue. When you get a whole bunch of different people tweeting interesting links all at once (after you get home from a day out for example), it’s all a bit overwhelming and I rarely end up following any of them.

    I’d like to see some kind of implementation of a ‘weighting’ system with Twitter, where you could weigh the relative importance of people you’re following, allowing you to follow more, but prioritise the people you’re more actively interested in or personally connected to without ignoring other people entirely. Maybe if you could adjust your timeline to only show every 2nd, 3rd or 4th tweet from those who you don’t prioritise? Not sure how it could work in practice, just throwing ideas out there.

    I’m surprised there are some major brands which still haven’t yet established a presence on Twitter. While it might have seemed a bit frivolous at first, it’s quickly establishing itself as a very useful way of transmitting information that self-styled forward thinking companies involved in branding should definitely be taking an interest in.

  10. I must admit i’m following a few of these already, Moving Brands for example but i’ve added a few more looking at this.

    I’m like you David, i’m trying to keep a lid on the people I follow. I think there’s two distinct graphic design based Twitter users: The every ten minutes, praise everyone, love everything type. And the quality, not quantity type.

    I’ve found that instead of swamping my feed with retweets and links to ‘top 20 blogs’ or tutorials on how to type from left to right etc. etc… The guys who run these accounts tend to post more informative tweets with links to unique work and articles that I actually want to look at.

  11. David, interesting subject. Thanks for sharing.

    As a freelancer a while back I did a similar unscientific study on agencies in my home state of Connecticut and was amazed that very few creative firms had a Twitter presence. Also more shocking many had not updated their websites in sometime either.

    I agree I think many firms wrestle with using a personal voice for a large company.

  12. The weighting system’s a thought, Ian. My method is a little more crude. If the tweets don’t interest me, I unfollow. It’s not like it’s because I don’t like the person, or company, but rather that I don’t have time.

    You’d think that all companies involved in graphic “communications” would have a profile by now, but at the same time, a Twitter presence is hardly an essential tool. Beneficial when used properly, no doubt, but essential it is not.

    Abbas, you’re just right. I follow agencies (and design ventures like @dexigner, @DesignObserver) through my LDL profile, and my DA one is a bit more personal for now. But even as it is, I struggle to keep track, so it’s clear that if someone is following hundreds or thousands of others, it’s more of a “collection” than anything truly worthwhile.

    Gary, no worries at all. Thanks for sharing your localised study. I see it all the time — companies neglecting their own websites because they’re too busy working on others. I think it’s important to just stop, from time to time, and get your own house in order first.

  13. David, great post as usual. @Jacob Cass thanks for the recommendation.

    Twitter is changing, people should use Twitter to promote their work/blog posts. Yea, I post a lot but I like promoting good content like David’s blog, not saying to spam twitter with you posts. Good things are coming out of Twitter. Ask @JustCreative (Jacob Cass). He just got offered and accepted job in the U.S. by a design studio, through Twitter. Many stories like this.

    People should use a Twitter client (desktop/mobile) like Tweetdeck or Seesmic Desktop to manage their followers. So it doesn’t really matter how many people you follow or how much they tweet. You can set up multiple groups of people you only want to see, so it doesn’t flood your main stream.

    – Cal

  14. Beautiful list, except for FutureBrand with no updates. Considering the title of your article, why is it even in the list?

  15. David, I also agree with Calvin… with the use of a Twitter client such as Tweetdeck, you can follow only the individuals you want to follow and break them down into different groups. ie. You could put Calvin and those who RT a lot into their own group then you would have a constant feed of high quality links and then you could put the others you want to follow on a more personal level, into another group.

  16. Thanks for the props, Cal. I understand the use of Twitter clients, but your reasoning brings up the question, why follow people you don’t want to see? Between you and Jacob you follow about 50,000 people. Surely by doing so, you’re giving yourselves an extra task by then adding these people to an “invisible” list.

  17. People aren’t invisible to me, they’re also in my timeline, so I do see them. The people in my groups are people I talk to often and don’t want to miss what they have to say.

    Twitter is about connecting, everyone has something interesting to say. It’s like being at big party. You have your own group of friends you hang out with, but you may overhear something at the party you found interesting. You jump into that conversation and connection with all that people in that group. You never know if that one person is what leads to other things as a new client or a good friend, both has happened to me.

    It’s also, if they wanted to DM me to ask questions, I can. There were many times, I wanted to DM you but couldn’t. I’ve met so many great people in real life and high profile individuals. If it wasn’t for Twitter, it wouldn’t have been possible to have these conversations or opportunities.

    Twitter isn’t for everyone and many don’t get it but I do believe people should be, especially designers. Twitter is a great resource for links of inspiration, critiques, networking and quick answers to questions.

    – Cal

  18. That’s a fair point about DMs, Cal, and I hope those times you wanted to message me weren’t too important? (You’ve got my email address — less limiting;)

    If I followed everyone who followed me, I think I’d have hundreds, maybe thousands, of spammers in my midst. When I started my second Twitter profile for LDL, I inadvertently left the “notify me of new followers” option on, and it seemed that every other “person” was more interested in porn than design.

    If anything, I want to cut down on my online communication, because I can be easily distracted when working to deadlines. It’s not that I don’t value what I receive (I do), just that sometimes I find myself answering the same questions over and over. Site additions like FAQs help, but a lot of the people who contact me don’t read the answers.

    Twitter is an insanely helpful resource, no doubt, and there have been plenty of times when I’ve been given a helping hand when stuck for an answer.

    I’m glad you’ve had much success with it, Cal.

  19. Twitter is nice, fun little thing to use but that’s about it for me. It would be nice to be followed by thousands, but i’d like my followers to be interested in what i’ve got to say rather than racking up the numbers.

    I’ve got enough on my plate having to service the needs to my clients without having to service the needs of thousands. I don’t know some of the designers on there do it. Do they sleep??

  20. When I first used it, Abbas, I classed it as a way to see what’s happening in the lives of those I’ve come to know online, but don’t have the best chance of meeting (due to distance). It’s still good in that way, but more than that, the speed of answers you can get to certain questions is excellent.

    If there’s a product or service I’m thinking of buying, I’ll search Twitter to see what others are saying about it, too.

    Do you play a bit of Sunday league? I saw that your first game of the season took it’s toll.

  21. great list David, now following a few I didn’t know had twitter accounts.

  22. Interesting to read. In my opinion too often an agency’s Twitter is merely self promotion, and while for some that can be interesting (like Hi-res’ work is always worth checking out for example), most are simply not worth to follow.

    I think that Tweets can be an informal means to share your vision, passion and interests to the outside world, away from your website. Combine that with an occasional company news or launch, perhaps a sneak preview and you could have a pretty good communication channel.

  23. Not a problem, Gareth. I just read a relevant post from Lyndon Antcliff: Twitter Killzone leaves 2,000 casualties. Much of what he says resonates with my thoughts.

  24. Thanks, David, for this list.

  25. Thanks for sharing this list David, some great agencies listed.

  26. Thanks for this list David, just was i was looking for!

  27. I adopted Twitter about 6 months ago, but not as much for a marketing ploy, but to gain insight from other designers and to knock down the metaphorical wall between a business and it’s clients. My hope is this Twitter account gives my clients a sense that they see who I am as an individual as well as a designer. I’ve found that the more someone is comfortable with who you are, the more apt they’ll be at doing or continuing business with you. In a digital age, Twitter can provide a virtual “face-to-face.”

  28. Thanks David! I’d add Boone Oakley out of Charlotte to the list, @booneoakley

  29. Thanks for the list :)

  30. Hi David.
    Thanks for the Post.

    I have been using Twitter for sometime now, but have never had any response from it.

    I was starting to wonder if it really worked. It feels like throwing your comments out into fresh air.

    Does it really work?
    I wonder what I am doing wrong. . .

  31. Hi Wayne, it’s just another way to interact with people online. Whilst not necessary, Twitter can put you in contact with people you wouldn’t otherwise “meet,” and offers another way for people to contact you.

Anything to add?

Comments may be edited or deleted if I don't like the cut of your jib, but that's quite unlikely.