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Graphic designer, 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.

Branding
The Wild Stone Code Range.

CG. What is the relationship between the product and the branding? How does the former shape or inspire the latter?

IC. 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).

Branding
The Real Tea Range.

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).

Branding
Branding
Branding
Eicher Live.

CG. According to you, How and to what extent, does branding impact an audience?

IC. 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.

Branding
The Almirah.
Branding
The Almirah.

CG. What do you do to ensure that the brand character comes across fully in the final design?

IC. 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.

Brand applications for ‘Hired’.

CG. What do you feel should be proportion, or how much is the need for balance, between minimalism and complexities in a design?

IC. 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.

Branding
Annual Report Design for IDFC.
Branding
Branding
Branding
Branding
Branding

CG. What do you feel is an essential part of branding?

IC. 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.

Branding
Publication design for Breakthrough.

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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Ashwini Deshpande

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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When unexpected ideas take shape, businesses are born. Such is the case of multi-disciplinary creative studio Inchwork, co-founded by Anant Ahuja based out of New Delhi. Transforming from a team of 2 to 8, the journey has been a roller coaster ride for the past two years and now it can only get better!

Studio
Child Essentials.

Co-founding his own company at the young age of 23, Anant Ahuja did not have it easy! Having his own practice was a way of proving himself and he did so with Gulab Saggu and Bharath Varma. Learning at work for the first few months after starting out paralleled with designing for big brands. They’ve seen hard times but they made it through the storm and haven’t since looked back!

Studio
Maneuvering Chicanes.

CG: How do you choose the style for any specific brands? And how minimal style of branding can make or break the marketing strategy?

Inchwork: Well we specialise not just in design but also in brand strategy. We at Inchwork believe in giving brands a very holistic approach. While creating a brand, we start off with a brand-print/manifesto that forms the building blocks of most businesses. Post our market research for the brand, we come up with visual alternatives and solutions for it, while at it we do put out guidelines for the brand that will help build it’s marketing strategy, factoring in trend forecasts. Our sole vision is to make a brand powerful, through visual imagery, not just beautify it.

Studio
Maneuvering Chicanes.

CG: Where branding or re-branding is trending in the business world and everywhere else too. How you justify the uniqueness of your services?

Inchwork: I guess that would be our individual approaches within in a team, we like bouncing ideas, doing drawing jams together and not pretend that we know everything. We’re not that a big team, and all of us are multi-faceted, we like to experiment and challenge our own ways of working. We are basically open to adaptation. We always look at the bigger picture and the learning curve with it.

Studio
Fun With Type!

CG: How do the market research, product identity and reputation is aligned with the branding over the client’s need? Does that change the way you design for a brand?

Inchwork: Your biggest job as a design entity is to learn about your client’s business first and then apply your due diligence by educating them about what could work for them, and by that, I don’t mean blatantly putting them down, but advising them while being a sounding board at the same time. It’s very important for us to be fit for the job that we’re being assigned. And if the clients think that we can, then we better be doing that right.

 

So just to sum it up, it’s very important to understand the client’s perspective but at the same time be proactive enough to make them understand your take on the whole approach. You’re the professional here and it’s your job to get your market research, product identity and reputation in sync with the client’s needs.

Studio
Fun With Type!

CG: Does the choice of typography and colours influence the impact of the brand? How do you steer clear of commonly made errors of mismatch?

Inchwork: Definitely does, typography and the colours are the most crucial component of the visual part of branding. The whole brand perception from the first look defines your market approach. That’s why research is essential for any design project. When back at school, research was just a pain to get a decent grade, now it’s the pain you have to go through to get your brand right. As they say, “no pain, no gain.”

Studio
Fun With Type!

CG: What leads the final outcome of any branding exercise, business needs or what client wants?

Inchwork: We try and steer away from taking up what could end up being a difficult client, well that being said, a client is always difficult, you just have to ease them out with your approach to strategise their brand. We deal with marketing realities every day and as I said we make the adaptation easier. We’re here to educate and learn.

Studio
A mammoth task.

CG: What are the challenges of re-branding projects and how do you handle them?

Inchwork: Re-branding projects are the most difficult ones to tackle. A brand over a period becomes an entity with a notion, and its perception is hard to let go off. And at the same time, it’s very important to understand that it’s not a baby, it’s a grown-up adult, which is ready for a fresh lease of life. How you groom a baby and an adult is completely different and that’s where most of the people miserably fail. We’ve just recently finished branding an infrastructure giant and their properties and it has taken us almost over a year. I think patience is the biggest virtue and just be focused on what you love doing. For us that’s branding.

Published in Issue 34

This is a rebranding special issue focused on finding the answers to some of the basic questions like what is the right time for re-branding? or what all needs changing and how exactly? We interviewed some of the best branding studios like Landor Mumbai, Elephant, VGC, Inchwork, and many more. If you are considering rebranding or want to learn more about the art of doing it then this issue is a must read. So, go ahead

 

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