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With four trillion dollars in assets under management, BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager. In late 2009, the firm acquired Barclays G… Read More
With four trillion dollars in assets under management, BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager. In late 2009, the firm acquired Barclays Global Investors with its iShares brand of exchange-traded funds. This acquisition marked a transformation of BlackRock’s business from the institutional category, serving pension funds, public institutions, foundations and companies, to a broad-based financial company providing investment solutions to millions of people in all walks of life. After the 2008 financial crisis, BlackRock acknowledged the economic uncertainty with the tagline, “BlackRock was built for these times.” To graphically redefine the company in the eyes of employees and the public, BlackRock engaged Ogilvy and Decker. Working closely with BlackRock’s many internal teams as well as the agency, we collaborated on the development of a new visual language. The goal of this work was to create an image of innovation, and abandon the traditional tropes of financial service design. After weeks of research, our team gave the first presentation. We referenced the speeches of Chairman Laurence Fink. Fink speaks repeatedly of the firm’s clients with reverence, and we felt this was important. We suggested featuring photography of the clients BlackRock serves: the firemen, the teachers, the police officers—simply put, hardworking real people. As an asset manager, BlackRock invests only for clients, not for itself. 
Our collaborator, Ogilvy, developed an angular gradient color graphic to symbolize forward motion. It creates tension where the color is most intense, and a sense of repose as the hues fade. The graphics represent the intellectual prowess, mathematical precision and the analytical exactitude BlackRock was known for. These were layered over images of people, the clients served by BlackRock, to yield a visual message that combines the power of analysis with compassion. This work was launched through advertising, and we, at Decker, modified and incorporated the themes into the 2011 annual report and the interactive annual report microsite. The asymmetrical diagonal backgrounds are carefully positioned using CSS3 to ensure a full-screen image regardless of viewing size. This was later incorporated into the design of the firm’s global website. The graphic vocabulary continued to evolve in year two, with the decision to use black-and-white photography exclusively and more finely tuned color palettes that moved away from the reds and yellow of the launch graphics. These subsequent graphical illustrations were developed by BlackRock’s internal team and were incorporated into short films, broadcast commercials, thousands of brochures and presentations across the globe. For two years Decker, Ogilvy and BlackRock’s internal team collaborated during a time of massive transition to launch, evolve and ultimately create one of the most innovative visual identities for a financial company. Read Less