A Global Takeover

Herbert Smith, as it was previously known, is a multinational law firm headquartered in London. Founded in 1882, it is regarded as part of the ‘Silver Circle’ of leading British law firms, and in 2012, it merged with Australian law firm, Freehills, to become Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF).

At the time of the merger, HSF had thirteen offices across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, as well as the old Freehill offices in Australia, and the brand launch would be rolled out across all of them in one day. That’s where we came in – HSF asked us to come onboard as we had already worked with Herbert Smith in the past and managed a project of this size and timescale for another leading multinational law firm.

This project was different. After meeting with the head of marketing, we knew this would be more than just a like for like signage change. We decided to do a site survey for the European offices, scoping out the existing signs and the potential for new ones. The area available, the age of each space, and colours and textures of every surface varied from office to office, so the task of fabrication and installation would be a pretty huge one.

HSF signage is a journey from the exterior, main reception and up through the building to their offices, winding its way through reception graphics, glass manifestations, door signs and wayfinding. In a smart move, the new HSF logo was a simplified icon of an iris that could be easily reworked to fit with all of these different environments – presented as a single colour or in the preferred full colour version made up of multiple tones of blue.

We teamed up with HSF’s design agency, SAS, to conceptualise and propose a signage package for each office. SAS implemented the brand changeover for print and web, while we led the way on the practical side of things. Our aim was to enable the global offices to use native suppliers for production and installation – spending money in the local economy and reducing the monetary and environmental costs of shipping.

Because HSF’s new brand was now truly multinational, we had to find a sign solution that worked with materials and manufacturing technologies that could be sourced worldwide, with easy to follow techniques that could be understood by local suppliers who had basic production methods and in many cases, were still cutting metal lettering by hand.

To ensure synchronisation on the day of switchover, we were in London, Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt the weekend before, and directing conference calls to staff and suppliers outside of Europe. Specs on materials and colours, as well as on-site guidance on mounting and positioning, went out to multiple locations the world over. Just a regular Monday morning at Glyphics.