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While the fundamentals for packaging design remain the same, there are new patterns for the new normal. Apart from visibility and engagement, companies should adapt their strategies and processes to cater to these unprecedented times.

The year 2020 emphasised the requirement to change and adapt due to the Covid-19 pandemic rapidly. Naturally, in the scramble to adjust to this new, interior-focused experience, many found it hard to cope. Yet others discovered parts of themselves they never knew existed, and thrived – and this held exceptionally true for brands and businesses as well.

The world of packaging design was no exception when it comes to witnessing the disruption. The question is, what learnings can we take forward as we move into 2021? Based on Elephant Design‘s numerous experiences this year and weighing other parameters, a few trends shall be extremely crucial in the new normal.

1. Lend Me Your Eyes & Ears

This is the age of information, excess, and choice – and due to high levels of engagement on various platforms and advancements in technology, it is vital to stay away from all the digital noise. The challenge for packaging is to arrest the present generation’s attention: in a world where they have too many distractions! Catchphrases, innovations in design structure, semiotic elements – all these will aim to grab and more importantly, retain attention at several touchpoints in the packaging experience.

A popular Japanese beauty product takes an unconventional approach to their packaging where they printed all their text backwards. While most would pass this off as a lack of a quality check, the Japanese brand doubled down on their selfie-taking core demographic for this limited run by design—a bold yet creative way to secure their promotion.

2. Truly Yours

There is also another easily visible trend: Hyper-personalisation. Ironically, Andy Warhol indicated that the age of originality had all but faded with mass production. But what he didn’t anticipate was that even personalisation on a mass scale would eventually be feasible. This trend was popular with iconic brands like Coca Cola and their ability to roll out bottles with personalised tags that are also culturally relevant in a local context. Nutella merged personalisation with an algorithm to create 7 million unique designs on their popular chocolate spread jars.

Standardisation is fast losing appeal, and we shall see more brands integrating personalised elements to make the product feel like it’s uniquely yours.

3. Made Fast; Not Necessarily to Last

For adaptation to be successful, we need to leverage two essential packaging design characteristics: scale and speed. In tandem with market saturation and short attention spans, an idea sticks only if its execution can be instantaneous. These conditions require a keen knowledge of materials, tools and processes for the development of speedy packaging; and making the production cycle as lean and efficient as possible, reducing the number of steps/technical processes to its core essentials.

4. Connecting Essentialism with Localisation

In 2020, our world realised the importance of localised goods, products and services during the pandemic due to restricted movement and logistics. As a result, the emphasis on extremely resilient packaging (for transport) was not a significant concern over such small distances. Thus, packaging that did not combine hi-tech materials and development became more feasible, boosting the use of perishable local materials like brown paper which is poised to increase in the coming year.

5. Embracing the Circular Economy

The pandemic drew focus to the issue of corporate/business-oriented responsibility and the environment, especially when examples of flora and fauna returning to previously affected areas due to economic activity started to circulate.


The packaging industry has always been questioned for its environmental impact, and in 2021, this scrutiny will only increase. Brands will have to think about pain points like their packaging’s shelf life and how its disposal and reuse can be taken care of responsibly. For example, Tata’s sustainability division is recycling 38% of its fly ash (a waste byproduct from their thermal stations) and applying it to the construction industry (pages 18-20). Expect many brands to adopt these alternatives and solutions to meet this need!

6. Virtual Integration

With conventional environments and public spaces becoming harder to access, our forays into the virtual world have gained a lot of traction and depth. This shift affects packaging in the same way, where brands leverage technology to provide digital experiences like never before. Brand collateral, informational tidbits and even creative ad campaigns can develop, which reduces the use of physical materials – something that will increase in the coming year.

7. Trust Through Communication

In 2020, we saw a dramatic spike with consumers prioritising safety and hygiene, but how do we ensure brands communicate their commitment to providing high standards? Here is where packaging design steps in and curiously, we see a reversal in perception. Once, messaging like ‘untouched by hands’ on product packages would invoke a sense of industrially mass production, but today, it is a hallmark of safety! Brands shall find new ways to build this trust via packaging, so this is an area to watch.

We hope that these shared insights shed some light on packaging trends in a year that perhaps will go down as the year of recovery as the world gets back on its feet!

Creative Gaga - Issue 55


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Elephant Design has completed 31 years in the design industry with being the number one many times. But celebration during the #lockdown and #workfromhome period was a challenge. And how they celebrated despite this challenge is inspiring for many.

They made an origami elephant in 28 steps and each step was choreographed in a manner that a person just shows one step and passes it to another for her/ him to fold the next one. It was shot by 67 team members with their phone cameras only.

Ashwini Deshpande co-founder of Elephant Design told us that they have always been asked ‘how you manage to work as a team?’ and this video is a perfect example of the harmony and collaboration within the team and of course with fun.

So we congratulate the whole team for the success and harmony they bring to the design industry. All the best and keep creating the great brands!

Creative Gaga - Issue 55


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Designers are always in search of inspiration and exposure to keep their creative hunger alive. And what is better than interactions with experienced personalities and attending hands-on design workshops to keep their artistic ideas flowing? The 14th Pune Design Festival (PDF) promises just that and much more.

‘The “Hamleys” of Design!”


“An epitome of a collaboration of designers.”


As described by the students and designers who attended the Pune Design Festival, 2019, the festival is an exclusive design forum that includes workshops, presentations, awards and much more! Organized by the Association of Designers of India (ADI), the festival will be held in Pune on the 10th and 11th January 2020 at Hyatt Regency.

Pune Design Festival

The theme for the 14th Pune Design Festival (PDF) 2020 is “Crossroads”, adhering to the next big shift in design and how it is constantly and rapidly developing in various domains. Conducted for a week, several events take place in the city, of which, the primary one is the two-day conference where speakers and designers from all over world participate and engage in conversations and workshops related to everything about design. Over 30 speakers from cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Jaipur and over 10 countries have graced the festival with their valuable knowledge and expertise, encompassing of delegates and visionaries like Dadi Pudumji, Resul Pookutty, several Padmashree recipients and international design experts.

A lot more is in store this year as luminaries like Harish Bhat, Brand Custodian of the Tata Group will be the addressing as the keynote speaker. Joining him would be spaceship designer and space entrepreneur Dr. Susmita Mohanty, celebrity photographer Joseph Radhik, experimental Letterist Kriti Monga and many more.

Along with it, the entire week is dedicated to celebrating design with hands-on workshops, Lexus Design Awards, Design Expo, visits to design studios and 6 parallel events that focus on design categories like Branding, Gaming, Animation, Interaction Design amongst others. ADI being a non-for-profit organization, have rational and flexible options for Festival conference and forum whereas the Design Expo is free for the public. The goal is to enable the maximum number of design aspirants, students and designers to avail the experience of the festival.

The design festival promises amazing music, intellectual conversations, good weather and a bag full of inspiration to take away. An event that assures a good time; overflowed with creative ideas, sounds like a pretty good weekend plan, isn’t it?

Creative Gaga - Issue 55


Users are aware of trends, demanding trendy products. Brands succumb to these demands to have a stronger say and a longer stay in the market. Studio Elephant Design has elaborated on this cycle explaining the need of packaging design.

Trends are a reflection of how people behave, how they live and vice versa.


One may believe tech-based products like smartphones & AI assistants are changing the way people live. But there is as much change happening in their lives through humble packaging design. In times of extreme actions and judgments, it is believed that design becomes prettier. This actually is happening.


There are certain things individuals look for before buying foods, beverages, personal & home care products nowadays:

Packaging Design

1. Tell me a Story?

Story of origin, granny’s recipe, kind of music played to cows… Is it a superfood rediscovered? Was it made the exact same way people made stuff when the world was perfect? They want to know more, not just about the ingredients or the company behind it, but also the hands that made it. They are hungrier for stories than the food they are buying.

2. Small for me Please

Because of longer commutes and increased working hours that blur into socializing, people are looking for things that will help them stretch their days outside of homes. Small portions of handbag-insertables are a rage in colour cosmetics, face masks, wipes, hand sanitizers, and other personal care products for on-the-go use. Spoilt for choice and highly aware of what they consume, people prefer single serves in snacks, meals & beverages.

3. Be Direct

Farm to Face. Grass to Glass. Park to Plate. Yes. That is how people like stuff to reach them. They want it fresh, preferably hand-made, with least processing. Demanding honesty of intent and transparency on the label about what goes in, they like small batches made with care. Lesser the machine intervention, the better it is.

4. Give me an Eye Candy

Packaging is not just for protecting the goods, it needs to give the product a flaunt value, making it Instagram-worthy. Packaging can be an object of desire itself. So the “look” of packaging is as important as what it carries inside.

5. Sustainability Counts

Over engineered packaging is a big no-no. The simple, the better. Is the plastic used easily to recycle? Reduced packaging layers, lesser staple pins, alternative chemical inks & glues, these are things that the sustainability-aware users look for

• Game Changers

Technology-based enablers are bringing some change too. The biggest change is in the way packaging can enable customization of every consumption experience. Technology & insightful design makes it possible to have small batches, personalized messaging or even controlled release of ingredients. Eg Kolibri (Japan) beverage bottle allows consumers to control the amount of sugar they want in their drink.

Recent advancements in automated packaging lines are not only more efficient, but also adaptive & flexible. They enable personalized packaging with individual names like the Coke cans & bottles from “Share a Coke” campaign.

Packaging Design

• Studio Sampler

Elephant helped develop a brand of Indian ethnic drinks that was based on nostalgia, aptly named “Paper boat”, taking one back to the good old days of childhood when life was simple and full of optimism.


Doy packs seemed a more sustainable choice against bottles, cans or cartons. The shape was designed to feel like squeezing a fruit and easy to open cap was inspired by paper boat itself. Graphics were simple and represented an uncomplicated, delightful world.

Packaging Design

The incredible part was that the brand refrained from using mass media for a couple of years. ON-the-shelf packaging did all the talking. And in less than five years, the brand made it to the top position in single-serve beverages, won many awards and also made it to the list of buzziest, most promising brands from India.


This is an interesting example because it aligned with all the five reasons for engaging with a brand and was created well in time to be able to ride the wave successfully.


For designers & consumers who don’t like to be cookie cutters, personalization and customization possibilities are like a boon. The only limitation would be ideas, which one is hopefully never short of.

Issue 45

Published in Issue 45

When celebrations are all around for the new year, everyone is curious about what this new year will bring. So, the rounds of looking back to the past year and trying to predict the new one starts. We started the same exploration through this issue by reaching various experts for their take on the trends for their respective fields. So, go ahead.


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Creative Gaga - Issue 55


Elephant Design
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Elephant is a Design-led Innovation organisation, solving complex challenges which focus on people and the future. They create brands, develop products, bring spaces to life and deliver new experiences while opening opportunities to drive growth for its clients.

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Creative Gaga - Issue 55


Rebranding a well-established company, giving it new additional values and sustaining it of its exceptional worth in the eyes of its customers is not an easy task! Elephant Design has successfully achieved this in its encounter with Easyday of the Future Group.



The Future Group has had the exceptional ability to understand Indian shoppers, anticipate their needs and deliver good in-store experiences across all its retail chains including Easyday, Nilgiris and heritage stores.


Easyday is a re-imagined neighborhood food and grocery store that is driven by local communities and serves a modern, personalized Indian shopping experience to its members. For the local community of loyal members, it is the Naye Andaaz Wali, Apne Pados Ki Dukaan.


The Future Group was looking for an ability to build a strong unified brand expression and its fluid translation into retail experience. The ask included everything from building an evocative brand identity to visual story-telling, from presenting products in aspirational ways to translating shopper insights into store services and layouts.


Easyday now wanted to be unique and different by turning into an exclusive members-only benefits club, “Easyday Club”, offering a hyper local community shopping experience to its customers. Providing everything from home care, personal care and food to services like delivery, launch invites, etc, it wishes to be a one-stop-shop to meet all needs. It also has another format called ‘Easyday Fresh”, offering many more choices in fresh foods, dairy, fruit & vegetables.


The Future group partnered with Elephant Design to have their brand identity revamped and re-designed, along with the retail layout and principles.



Easyday is defined as a brand that is reliable, respectable and honest, powered by trust, passion and innovation and with integrity at its core.


Easyday is the Retail 3.0 experience where physical store experience is delivered with uniform digital layer that helps shoppers retain their own identity and also gives them access to exclusive offers in every category.


The process started out by pivoting the brand on fresh and a never-before shopping experience of everyday groceries meant exclusively for members.


Fresh Brand

Fresh & deep greens were the choice of colors to represent the refreshing experience people could expect from the brand.


The logo incorporated the EasyDay name and had to be associated with savings to indicate a friendly neighborhood store and showcase endless goods & benefits for members. The use of a wallet as a logo seemed to have been apt with lower case letters showing approachability and the ribbon-like texture giving it a contemporary look.

Monochromatic and blended with a chalkboard treatment, a library of icons in one style, covering different categories of products was developed defining the visual identity of the brand used extensively, especially in the EasyDay Fresh stores.


All of the visual communication was built around the idea of community and helping farmers by buying locally sourced fresh produce. Freshness was a big part of the brand and was incorporated on the storefronts as well, lending a refreshing look to the stores.



In the spirit of building local connect, the logo has been carefully developed in several regional scripts without diluting the style & spirit. This shows the brand’s sincerity towards understanding and communicating in the same language as its members and adds to the approachability at every level.

First Impressions

With front doors acting as the first impression creators for any retail outlet, Elephant design aims at making use of this element to not only impress the existing members but also invite prospective members. The façade glazing leaves some room for imagination through friendly and conversational messages that tell about the benefits of being members and invites the visitors to check it out for themselves by stepping inside.


Store layout and design

At Easyday stores, bright lights, clean aisles, conversational signage, new launches corner and a promise of best deals in every category—all of this is a carefully planned experience around shopper needs & desires.


To ensure a consistent experience from store to store, no matter the location, there are certain common principles built within the store experience.


Internal pillars, walls, beams and product displays are accented in Easyday greens for a brand-centric look & feel which extends to shopping carts and baskets as well.


The aisle signages are in a Dinoc raw wood finish to offer a hint of rustic and a subtle affinity with ‘farm-fresh’ crate packaging.


In-store signage is treated as a means of conversing with the customer and is clear, compelling, friendly & on-brand. A community bulletin board is placed near the entrance-exit to encourage Easyday Club members to promote their services & share information on local events, for a more involved Community connect.


Grocery plus

The beauty of Easyday Club is that members can pick up the freshest gourmet salad dressing and eyeliner at the same time or even have it delivered by sending a simple Whatsapp message!


In time, Easyday Club will add other conveniences like delivery & pick-up of online purchases from e-commerce players or maybe a laundry service or utility bill payments depending upon what the members find valuable.


Tone of voice

Without great service, a well-designed store means nothing.


While training plays a major role in delivering consistent service, communication through wall graphics, signage, uniforms and carry bags help maintain a consistent & friendly tone of voice throughout the store.


So don’t be surprised to read a sign that says “Take care of yourself” guiding one to the personal care section or shopping assistant’s jacket that says “Looking for something?”



Offers and product-mix may change across locations depending upon specific local preferences, but Easyday’s thoughtful presentation and commitment to elevating the shopping experience would remain the same across every store, the idea being that members can shop with confidence knowing they will find great value they’ve come to expect from Future Group.


Within a year of the first Easyday Club store’s setup in late 2017, there are already more than 30 stores in running!


Client: Future Group | Easyday Club
Design Studio: Elephant Design
Solution/Expertise: Branding Strategy, Communication Design, Retail


Creative Gaga - Issue 55


Ashwini Deshpande
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Every design student or graduate dreams of interning with the best agencies or studios and Elephant Design tops the list. Ashwini Deshpande, the co-founder of Elephant Design shares their well thought strategy behind selecting and mentoring interns each year just like how an elephant will mentor their calf to be part of their family.

As a student of NID, I was an intern at Lintas & Module Studio in Mumbai around 1986-87. First one made me realise that I didn’t want to make a career in advertising and second one gave me the confidence to be an entrepreneur. I can say this with conviction that my learning was far wider than the specific projects or work done in those internship months. And I can never be grateful enough to those who mentored me then.

At Elephant, we have interns not only from design & management institutes in India, but also from Turkey, Singapore, France, The Netherlands, USA & Mexico. Idea behind accepting interns from diverse disciplines and cultures is to make Elephant culture richer & more inclusive.

We strongly believe that an intern needs to have a good mentor who is patient, has empathy & encourages experimentation. So we never invite more interns than we can mentor. Out of a hundred odd expressions of interest, we select about ten interns every summer. We do look at the portfolio, but more importantly, we look at the readiness to become part of a large team and learn from everything that goes around in a very busy design studio.

Design is not a solo game. Anyone who is too focused on his/ her project is not welcome, as they would not integrate with the spirit of teamwork at Elephant. What we promise is a role in the team and expects the intern to enjoy the ride.


We also hire fresh graduates from some of the design schools in India and from them we expect passion to experiment, enthusiasm towards teamwork and ability to articulate ideas through visual story-telling. We like people who are curious, positive and flexible

Published in Issue 32

If you are a recent graduate or about to finish your college then this issue may have answers to many of your questions. Like, how to get the best placement or the internship? How to present best in front of the interviewer? Which studio or agency to choose to start your career? How to work in a team or choose to be a freelancer? This issue has advice from many experts such as Ashwini Deshpande and Gopika Chowfla who gave the secrets of choosing the right intern for their well-known design teams. And on another hand, Rajaram Rajendran and Ranganath Krishnamani advise young designer to gain multiple skills and be the best at them. Also, recent MIT Post Graduate Vinta Jakkal shares her secret with which she grabbed the great opportunity of joining the Elephant Design, Pune team to start her career.


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Creative Gaga - Issue 55