The founder of ICD, Itu Chaudhuri, lets out his experience and insight in the field of branding. He expresses what goes into creating effective brands, and the various aspects or elements that play a role in the process.
CG. What is the relationship between the product and the branding? How does the former shape or inspire the latter?
ICD. For some brands, the product’s properties are the heart of the brand. For example, we know Mercedes by their cars, which are a model of stability and Germanic engineered perfection; not by their advertising or showrooms or their F1 Cars (which they do very well). For those brands, branding needs to reflect what’s special about the product, but rarely reflects the product itself. The ‘what’s special’ part, in turn, depends on the category. For more functional products, it’s about a clear benefit from using it (e.g. relieving pain).
For less functional brands, the benefit may be more in the mind i.e. how it makes people feel, or its ‘values’ (what it encourages its customers to believe in). This is also true for brands, which we know by their advertising more than by the special qualities of the product (e.g. a mobile service like Vodafone or Airtel). But, rarely does the branding show the product itself. If the product is a packaged product that’s never unpacked (think deodorants, or insect repellents, or a fizzy drink), then the branding and the product are practically fused (even when large advertising budgets support the brands).
CG. According to you, How and to what extent, does branding impact an audience?
ICD. Every customer knows that they are being manipulated. So, branding works best when it slips under the radar of the customers or escapes their ‘crap detector’. Yet, if the brand seems to admit this while managing to charm the customers, it works. The audience is then willingly helpless to resist. This means that the branding is, in some sense, invisible when it appears to belong or be inevitable as if there was no other way it could have appeared. This requires honesty on the owner’s part and linking the brand to what is true. Despite this, it’s carefully orchestrated. Simply appearing artless won’t do it. Done right, it can succeed in disarming the customer.
CG. What do you do to ensure that the brand character comes across fully in the final design?
ICD. Personality is the key, and thus cannot be overlooked or sidelined at any stage. It’s a mental model of the brand that describes the brand’s character and attitude, more like a representative, and thus implies its appearance.
CG. What do you feel should be proportion, or how much is the need for balance, between minimalism and complexities in a design?
ICD. The point isn’t a balance: it’s more a purposeful imbalance. Different brands need different treatments, so that one may do best in a minimal style, and another with a busy, or even chaotic style. This is a necessary facet that one needs to recognise and remember throughout the process.
CG. What do you feel is an essential part of branding?
ICD. Deep understanding of the client’s truth is fundamental and most essential, but making sure that it’s attractive to their customers is of value, at the same time. If you succeed on the first count and fail on the second, you touch no one. The other way around and the attraction will be skin deep. It very clearly is a case of both or nothing.
Published in Issue 38
This issue, we try to explore different views from many well-known studio owners and senior designers. While Anthony Lopez of Lopez Design shared tips on what a studio looks for in a designer, Mohar Ray from Codesign highlights the key aspects that play a significant role and make the difference in whether you are hired or not as a promising designer. Also, this issue has an insightful article on ‘Branding with reason and love’ from Itu Chaudhuri, founder ICD (Itu Chaudhuri Design) along with Siddhi Ranade, explaining his tools of story telling through his unique style of illustrations. This issue is a must read for a talented graduate to a branding expert. Order you copy and enjoy reading it!
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