In the competitive industry of graphic design, it can be difficult to establish a name brand. Nonetheless, there are a couple dozen design firms around the world that have managed to cut through the clutter and gain international prestige.
Their roster of clients, impressive portfolio of work, prominence in local markets and international reach have made them some of the most famous graphic design companies on the planet. Read on below for the dream-team list of design agencies (in no particular order).
One of the biggest and most famous graphic design companies in the world, Pentagram is owned and run equally by 19 partners—all of whom are leaders in the design industry. Their star-studded list of past and present partners includes names like Alan Fletcher, Bob Gill, Paula Scher and Michael Bierut.
Locations: New York, San Francisco, Berlin and Austin.
Notable clients: The Guggenheim, The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Cosmopolitan, Boots, Revlon, Sesame Street, Citibank, 21st Century Fox, Harley Davidson, Codeacademy, Princeton University, General Electric, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Guitar Hero, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Sundance Film Festival, Bennetton, Sake Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co, Alexander McQueen, Grey Goose, Popeyes, MillerCoors, WeightWatchers, Stanford Law School, Rolls Royce, Vanity Fair, Sotheby’s, Nissan, Pantone, Nokia, Reuters, Penguin Press, Time Warner, Walgreens, FIFA, Nike, United Airlines.
In their own words, Landor is “the world’s preeminent brand consulting firm.” Headquartered in San Francisco with 36 offices in 20 countries, this design giant has one of the most enviable client lists on the planet.
Headquarters: San Francisco
Locations: Bangkok, Beijing, Cape Town, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dubai, Geneva, Hamburg, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Milan, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo
Notable clients: FedEx, P&G, BP, John Deere, Smirnoff, Kraft, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, BMW, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, Moet & Chandon, MillerCoors, Tsingtao, Evian, Nescafe, Crest, Old Spice, PepsiCo, Vicks, Procter & Gamble, Cotton Inc, Juicy Couture, Levi Strauss, Rolex, 7 For All Mankind.
3. Meta Design
One of the leading design firms in the world, Meta Design has crafted compelling brand experiences for more than 20 years. From reinventing Apple’s Mac OS design system to collaborating on Adobe’s packaging and identity, their caliber of work resonates on a global level that’s tough to match.
Headquarters: San Francisco
Locations: Zurich, Beijing, Berlin, Dusseldorf and Geneva
Notable clients: Adidas, AT&T, Apple, Adobe, AOL, Audi, Bank of America, Barclays, Belkin, Bugatti, Charles Schwab, Chevron, Cisco, Coca Cola Comcast, eBay, Expedia, FIFA, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Fujifilm, Fujitsu, Gap, Genentech, Hewlett-Packard, Inkling, Intel, Intuit, Kohler, Lamborghini, LG Electronics, Lufthansa, McAfee, McGraw Hill, Motorola, MTV, Netflix, Nike, Nokia, Polo Ralph Lauren, Samsung, Sony, Volkswagen, Walmart, Wells Fargo, Xerox, Yahoo!
4. The Chase
Ranked number one in 2013 by Design Week National Creative League Table and clocking more than 250 national and international awards, The Chase has garnered attention for their innovative corporate branding and print design. These self-proclaimed “creative consultants” offer an interesting sampling of skills including calendar design, museum exhibits, and sports stadium branding.
Locations: Preston and London
Notable clients: Alibaba, Amnesty International, BBC, Disney, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard, Shell, Smirnoff, Yellow Pages
5. Charlie Smith Design
Charlie Smith Design was founded in 2003 by ex-Pentagram designer Charlie Smith. Coming from such a world-renowned company, it’s no surprise her new project was a success. Her team offers a full range of services including packaging and digital, and they take a detail oriented approach, giving attention to every aspect of each design project, from paper choice to materials used.
Notable clients: John Lewis, V&A, Louis Vuitton, Royal Academy of Arts, Yale, University of the Arts London, Tate, Phaidon, Terence Woodgate, British Council, Creative Review
6. Happy Cog
This New York-based firm was founded by web design guru Jeffrey Zeldman and has won more web design awards than just about anybody. Known for their engaging web environments, Happy Cog keeps their high-profile clients happy with their impressive web design, development, and user experience consultancy.
In their own words, Happy Cog is the design studio “behind web standards, and the place where responsive design began.”
Headquarters: New York
Locations: Philadelphia and Austin
Notable clients: Ben & Jerry’s, MTV, Zappos.com, Fonts.com, Standford University, Thompson Reuters, Mozilla.org, Lagunitas Brewing Company
Designers Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar are like two lesser-known Paul Rands. They started in 1958 and have worked for the biggest clients in the world. Their work is iconic and has stood the test of time. With the semi-recent addition of Sagi Haviv in 2006, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv is going strong and continuing to shape some of the biggest brands in the world.
Headquarters: New York
Notable clients: Chase Bank, National Geographic, Mobil, Library of Congress, Armani Exchange, NBC, Avery, Aquariums, Lisbon Aquarium, National Aquarium, New England Aquarium, Osaka Oceanarium, Tennessee Aquarium, Barneys New York, Bicentennial, Brown University, CB Richard Ellis, Conservation Int’l, Cornell University, EPA, Grey Advertising, HarperCollins, Harvard U. Press, Hearst, International Identities, MoMA, NYU, Pan Am, PBS, Princeton U. Press, Rockefeller Center, Showtime, Smithsonian, UNDP, Univision
Based in Madrid, Saffron Brand Consultants‘ approach is to help “transform brands and businesses with the clarity of rigorous thinking and the courage of bold ideas.” Started back in 2001, the firm has climbed its way to the top by embracing globalization and the potential of emerging markets.
Offices: London, New York, Mumbai, Vienna and Istanbul
Notable clients: Goldman Sachs, West Bengal, London, Fujitsu, The Institute of Cancer Research, Vueling, CocaCola, V Festival
Mucho carries an awareness that designs travel beyond the computer screen: designs appear in the world around us, and designers should take care to make the world look aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, they are dedicated to shaping how their clients are perceived on an international level. Their success in this regard is proven through their astonishingly large client list.
Locations: Newark, Paris, San Francisco, New York
Notable clients: AIGA, All Good Scents, Alma Hotels, Art of Sport, Bath Spa University, BCD, Betway, BMW, Canal+, CUBBO, Cultural Institute of San Francisco, Cure Life Products, El País, EMI Music Spain, Future Designs, Gap Inc., Google, HP, Icon publishing, Igloo Films, Kodak, Majestic Hotel Group, Mars, Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Phaidon Press, Piece x Piece, Primero Primera, Public Arts East Midlands Arts, Puig, Pumpkin Pet Products, Qube Homes, Random House Mondadori, San Francisco Art Exchange, San Francisco Civic Center, Sónar/Advanced Music, The Boutique Life, The Collection, The Observer, University of California
A Practice for Everyday Life has built their reputation on solid business relationships with like-minded clients. They focus on concepts, making sure every design in unique and meaningful. Their scope of work includes art direction, identities, publications, exhibitions, type design, signage, packaging, and digital.
Notable clients: Performa, Manchester School of Art, APFEL, Art on the Underground, Australian Center for Contemporary Arts, Tate, Modern Art Oxford
Spin is all about bringing elegant and clean ideas to a wide range of sectors, including arts, communication, broadcast, design, electronics and entertainment. Spin also prides themselves on their proactive responses to creative briefs—which includes in-depth background research on their clients and even workshops with target-demographics if necessary.
Notable clients: Channel 4, Collect, Crafts Council, D&AD, Design Museum, Deutsche Bank, HP, Meta, Ministry of Sound, Nike, Print Magazine, Proa, Simon Pengelly, Wired
SocioDesign is famed for their minimal and reductive style which allows clients to turn their brands into cross-cultural assets. In other words, their designs have a universal feel to them which appeals to many regions of the globe. This global approach has allowed SocioDesign to reach further than most design studios, and is what has helped develop their international fame.
Notable clients: Capital Magazine, Rambling Muse, STOR, Trace Magazine, Twice Fashion, KAE, MatchPrint, Truth Consulting, Kickstart
Only is a strategy and design consultancy that has won awards at Heist and BIMA events. Their focus lies in connecting brands to people by creating designs which accurately articulate each company’s ideas. They also find inspiration from the people who their clients serve, which further strengthens the client/customer connection.
Notable clients: University of Suffolk, Helbers, British Interactive Media Association, Design for Europe, Onaway
14. Made by Alphabet
Made by Alphabet falls on the more youthful side of the spectrum. They are a team of young designers, their personality is playful and they aren’t afraid to crack jokes. Their work is geared towards the millennials to which they offer a fresh and energetic approach.
Notable clients: Cha.ology, OnePlus, Extrajet, The Hyde Park Picture House, The British Independent Film Festival, NBA, Adventure Films, Akin
Triboro is the Brooklyn-based design duo of David Heasty of Texas and Stefanie Weigler of Germany. Just because you have a small team doesn’t mean you can’t make a big splash. Their work is colorful, creative and hip—it shepherds their clients to new and exciting territory. It’s also known for its high integrity and quality (as shown by their numerous industry awards).
Notable clients: AIGA, The Undefeated, Nike NYC, New York Observer, JK& Magazine, GQ Style Guide, Wired, Time Magazine, New York Magazine, Shrine, Dia Art Foundation, Moma
DIA is all about dissolving egos to focus on business goals. They push to put aside personal interests and look at the big picture, They also specialize in flexible designs: ones with can change shape and color, and that have a lasting and positive impact on any given business.
Headquarters: New York
Notable clients: Le Mise, Nissan, PureFish, FX, NBC, Daqri, North American Wildlife, Discovery Channel, Cartoon Network, Mitsubishi, Optimum
Franklyn claims to be the “creative studio you’ve been searching for all your life.” Their approach comes from a boutique mind-set, or in other words a mindset that is simultaneously fashionable yet not out-of-reach to smaller customers. Coming from Brooklyn, they also aren’t afraid to show their hip personality through the use of slang like “trill” (true and real).
Notable clients: Metlife, Zocdoc, tokyobike, airbnb, ida, betaworks, OTHR, Kimski, KPF
Hey focuses on geometry, color and direct typography through brand identity design, editorial design and illustration. They take pride in attentive one-on-one relationships in which every step is given care.
Notable clients: Apple, Vodafone, Three, Turkish Airlines, General Electric, Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert, The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Porter, CBS, Film Commission Chile, Inditex, Fortune Magazine, Design Studio, Monocle, MACBA, CCCB, Penguin Random House
For more than 25 years, this Western Australian boutique studio has proven that size doesn’t always matter. Recipients of numerous Creativity International awards (along with quite a few more), Dessein is regularly recognized for their work in branding, print and packaging design.
Notable clients: Cafe Corporate, Black Swan STC, Whiteman Park, Albany Entertainment Centre
20. Total Identity Group
Based in Amsterdam, Total Identity is a design firm that has created branding solutions for Europe’s biggest clients for more than five decades. From their work for the Tour de France since the early 1960s to the redesign of the Dutch passport for the Dutch Ministry of the Interior, Total Identity boast an incredible portfolio.
Locations: Amsterdam (Total Identity) and The Hague (Total Public) with representation in Antwerp (Total Gramma), Berlin and Braunschweig (wirDesign), Bremen (Sommer) and Seoul (CDR Korea)
Notable clients: Tour de France, Amsterdam Fashion Week, LG, Bavaria brewery, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, World Expo (Osaka), Dutch Ministry of the Interior, Royal Dutch Airlines
21. Experimental Jetset
Experimental Jetset has been around since 1997, specializing in print and site-specific work. They describe their methodology as “turning language into objects.”
Notable Clients: Sonic Youth, Future of Print, NAiM, IABR, Wired, DTC, MoMA NY
22. Litmus Branding
A Branding and design agency based in India, Litmus Branding‘s motto is to “make your brand strategy simple”—not that simplicity doesn’t mean hard work. Beyond brand strategy, web design and print work, they’ve managed to knock out more than 400 logos in three years (that’s two per week!). They have a sizable portfolio of Indian clients as well as companies from all over the world.
Notable clients: Indus Travels, America Solar Clean Energy, Malaysia Kargo, Green Products, Luxor, C|Max
23. Casa Rex
Casa Rex is a São Paulo-based, design firm that’s received accolades from all the heavy-hitters—Communication Arts, Core77, Good, HOW and many more. Headed by Gustavo Piqueira (who’s won 200+ international design awards, himself), the firm has mastered everything from typefaces and homeware to environmental projects and cutting-edge branding.
Headquarters: São Paulo
Notable clients: Dove, Unilever, Suave, Campari, Skyy Vodka, Burger King, Axe, Hellmann’s, Tresemme, and Magnum
Headquartered in Bucharest, Brandient design firm delivers branding solutions for a variety of big Romanian companies as well as entrepreneurs and start-ups. They pride themselves in succeeding in “difficult markets” with a multidisciplinary approach that bridges marketing and business with creative thinking.
Notable clients: CEC Bank, Dedeman, Domo, Vodafone, Nextebank, Bitdefender
25. ID & B
Headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa, the ID&B design firm boasts an impressive portfolio of branding work and communications design. Started back in 2005, ID&B’s work ranges from small niche projects to brand strategy for some of the world’s biggest companies.
Headquarters: Cape Town
Notable clients: Virgin, IntelX, Dr Hauschka Skincare, Coca-Cola, The Presidency Republic of South Africa
26. Eat Creative
A Tokyo-based design firm, Eat Creative specializes in branding, web design, print and content creation. With more than 10 years of experience in the Japanese marketplace, they’re no stranger to the importance of adapting to different cultural points of view, especially when introducing a Western brand.
Notable clients: Gap China, Volkswagen Japan, InterContinental, TEDxTokyo, Khiels, Deutsche Bank, ASICS
Re-public has been creating cross-platform design solutions since 1999. Their work connects many dots on the map, including Mexico, Copenhagen and China, and their trophy shelf is full of awards from Red Dot Design, the Creative Circle Awards, the German Design Awards, Kolla! and Årets Bedste Bogarbejde.
Notable clients: RIóN, DBA, Gold-Smidt Assembly, QVARTZ, Hatt, Leckerbaer, Nord Centro, PKA, SOS International, ByWho
Essen is another detail-oriented design company that takes full responsibility for each project, from start to finish. They’ve been around since 1980 and their 30 years of experience show. Their design projects are meticulous, deeply thought out, colorful and conceptually intelligent.
Locations: San Francisco
Notable clients: Friskis & Svettis, Skanska, Björn Borg, Vattenfall, Swedbank, Gant, The City of Stockholm, Filippa K, SAAB, Swisscom
Bedow began out of desperation. In 2004 designer Perniclaw Bedow was out of work and decided his only choice was to start his own company. He wanted to start something different from the norm. Since 2004, Bedow has paved their own way. No longer desperate, they now have their pick of highly-regarded clients to work for. Additionally they stay true to a unique aesthetic that brings playfulness, clever ideas, and bright color palettes to the table. Their list of awards is lengthy and includes the European, German and Swedish Design Awards. Each one is well earned!
Notable clients: Momento Film, Record Mania, Essem Design, Polyester, Qapital, Oddwood, Unicef
What separates Bond is their careful staff curation. They’ve made a point to bring in designers from different fields as to build a multi-disciplinary studio. Bond specializes in identity, digital, retail & spatial, and packaging & product design for a range of businesses between start-ups and global brands.
Locations: Abu Dhabi, London
Notable Clients: ArtRabbit, Flamingo Skies, Dubai Design Week, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Rainmaker, Good Sport, Sushi & Co., Mieli, Grano
31. Studio Fnt
In their own words, Studio Fnt “collects fragmented and straying thoughts, and then organises and transforms them into relevant forms.” In other words, Studio Fnt is a funnel, concentrating ideas from clients, target demographics and their surrounding world into concepts and subsequently visual forms. Studio Fnt works with prints, identities, and interactive/digital media.
Notable clients: Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, The Hyundai, Ulju Mountain Film Festival, Materia, Milk Lab, Megabox, Field Trip
Fable specializes in concept-driven ideas through brand identity, art direction, wayfinding, editorial, packaging, publishing and digital design. It’s no surprise they have recently won the prestigious British Design & Art Direction Award, especially given how mesmerizing their colorful, geometric and pattern based designs are!
Headquarters: Republic of Singapore
Notable clients: Wealth Destined, Alpha Drive, Pangdemonium, Brain Magazine Japan, Hello 2016, Hidden, Play, The Meeting Room
Bravo is another company with a sense of humor. Their profile page is a loose form of a Mad-Lib puzzle, comparing their design work to Chuck Norris and The Game of Thrones. They serve clients on opposite ends of the globe and their highly-refined work still lets their fun personality show through.
Locations: Astoria, New York
Notable clients: Fro Fro, Full of Luck Club, Cocoa Colony, Alt. Pizza, The Assembly, Rhinoshield, Podi, Mexout, Five & Dime
This article was originally written by Rebecca Creger and published in 2014. It’s been updated with with more information and examples.