• Identity
  • Visual design & interaction design of a digital property
  • Role: Design Director, visual design
  • Agency: SapientRazorfish



Marcel is A.I. software built by, and for, the Publicis Groupe to be used as a digital assistant by the roughly 18,000 employees within the Groupe. It is named for the founder of Publicis, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet. If you are thinking this sounds like Google Assistant or Siri or Bixby you are correct—except Marcel is far more robust.

The problems to solve were:

  1. What does Marcel look like
  2. How does it act
  3. How do users engage with it (via the phone, desktop, watch, etc.)
  4. How does Marcel engage with users
  5. What is the visual identity

Nine offices were asked to contribute ideas. I was the representative of one of those offices. I am going to take you through my thinking and how I ended up where I ended up.

The idea

I began thinking about transitions. Could Marcel visually represent the answer to the question you asked it? And what would it do, and how would it act, while it’s finding the answer or performing the task? I began researching words like ‘transitions’, ‘morphing’ and ‘changing states’.

I initially landed on the idea of digital liquid or smoke. Here’s some of what I found interesting:

Marcel as a “living”, swirling orb. Users would touch/click to engage.

Having worked through a number of sketches similar to the sketch on the right, I was able to see that although I could envision immense beauty in the transformation into digital liquid then into a recognizable form, it didn’t feel quite right so ultimately, I moved on.

How about paper?

What if, starting as a strip of paper, Marcel folded itself into shapes?

Photographs of folded paper M's

After dozens of variations and refinements, I ended up here:


Become the shape of the answer. “What’s the weather in Seattle?” 52° and raining…go figure.

What if a question is asked that doesn’t have a recognizable shape for an answer? Along with providing the answer on screen and/or speaking it, Marcel shifts into a mathmetically-created abstract shape.


Marcel is always on so there is no need to unlock your phone. Slide Marcel into the slot and “Find Lara Paige at Saatchi”.

Don’t want to pick up your phone or type on your computer? Press Marcel then speak into the bluetooth-enabled, credit card-sized card that’s on your desk. Results are spoken and/or presented on your default device.

...or pick up the Magic 8-ball.


The purpose for Marcel, again, is to be the the perfect, learning digital assistant open to everyone within Publicis Groupe. From booking conference rooms and suggesting attendees for meetings to booking flights, hotels and your Lyft or Uber to finding a colleague’s email or phone number to finding files, and versions of files, to organizing and prioritizing tasks and meetings to reminding you to get up, take a walk and go eat lunch.

Marcel. Purposeful in use, ease in execution, beauty in form.

White Marcel logo