A softer, more inclusive Sid Lee

CEO Bertrand Cesvet says new human-centric branding reflects the increasing importance of collaboration in the industry.


In Canada’s agency landscape, Sid Lee has been seen as the hip, stylish young shop exemplified in lifestyle- and performance-focused work with clients like Adidas, Cirque du Soleil, Sport Chek and the Toronto Raptors with its “We The North” campaign.

But now the 25-year-old agency is looking to project a different persona.

Revealed last week, the agency’s new branding replaces its older all-caps white lettering on a black background with lower-case letters that mix serif and sans-serif typefonts. Overseen by the agency’s CCO and co-founder Philippe Meunier, the new branding is meant to be more inviting, while still reflecting the creative flair the agency is known for. The new look is now present on the agency’s redesigned website and is the focal point of a reel.

Bertrand Cesvet, CEO of Sid Lee, says there was nothing “wrong” with the previous branding, but that it was more reflective of the agency Sid Lee was, and not the human-centric agency it wants to be heading into the future. The main goal was to make the agency feel more inviting for new talent and clients.

“One of the things we’re sure about is Sid Lee is an inclusive organization that fosters and believes in the collective as a strong and efficient way to create value for brands,” Cesvet says. “The identity we had was a bit exclusive. We’ve decided to create something that, on the one hand, still shows who we are, but also made us a bit more approachable, human and kinder.”

Cesvet adds that while work on the new branding began well before the “#MeToo” movement, and high-profile cases of sexual assault brought new attention and scrutiny to the treatment of women in the workplace, the rebrand also presents an “opportunity to recast Sid Lee as an organization that is open to everyone.”

He says it embodies the agency’s “humanity,” which is also reflective of its collaborative nature. Already known for interdisciplinary work between several design and production units (before those units were combined in 2016), Sid Lee has been collaborating more with agencies that are part of Kyu, the Hakuhodo DY Holdings-backed agency collective that aquired Sid Lee in 2015. Beyond that, Cesvet says being able to collaborate with agencies – even those that might also be competitors – is increasingly important to serve the needs of clients.

“The best agencies are going to be the ones who are better collaborators,” he says. “The days when a client is going to be systematically using a single agency for everything are more or less finished. There is still going to be some of that, but we also see big brands all over the world saying they’ll put several agencies together. I want to be part of that process, and that also includes being an agency that includes the client in that discussion and collaborates with them.”