DY Works - An Outsider's Perspective

Is it an advertising agency? Is it a design house? Is it that space where creativity finds a home?  Or that room where strategy finds a platform?

As someone who has never been a part of the inner wheels of this elephant mechanism, the experience of visiting DY Works can be bizarre.  If you feel a trifle lost and largely overwhelmed, you are just experiencing the introduction anxiety which many face once they have crossed the glass doors into the main office.  The whispers from the cafeteria try to warn you of the energy which lurks in the corridors of the seemingly quite office space. Nothing can prepare you for the storm of thoughts and ideas which assault you upon entering the work space.

The passion behind every thought, the conviction behind every idea, and the greed for constructive criticism has you turning your mind over in attempt to be a part of the energized discussions. What at first glance looked like a chic, demure office space is now alive with activity. You long to belong. You resign to the idea of being a mere spectator of one of the most colorful carnivals and search for a sideline to retire to. At DY Works there are no sidelines.

Irrespective of whether you are a new recruit, an external consultant, a visitor or a client, you will find that space where you fit in so perfectly that you feel it was created with you in mind.

It is not a loud boisterous place which gloats about every idea which worked and did not. It is not filled with posters with wicked one-liners on the management or work ethics. It does not splash color like the world is about to run out of a couple of shades. Its demure, it’s subtle and it’s proud.

It is like a finishing school for Client thoughts.

It is where raw, half-baked ideas get processed through layers of understanding to evolve into a language which communicates with the desired TG.  The evolution of every thought follows an almost scientific process. Every space you step into you will find thoughts being doctored in their various stages of development.

It is a work space with an attitude which screams  “We’re fun people who take our work seriously.”

Contributed by Hitesha Deshpande, who is an avid blogger and author. DY Works had the pleasure of hosting her at our Mumbai office.


WHO IS THE CONSUMER? (Part 3 of 4)


The Importance of Culture for Brands

Individual behaviour stems from three encoded, inherited and learned, platforms:
  1. Universal Human Hardwiring
    This is the lowest common denominator of universal human truths where jealousy, love, maternal instinct etc are common to ALL humans. This is what tells brands that we all want to be admired or desired or envied.
  1. Cultural Context
    While the above tells us that there is a need to be admired, it is the cultural context that tells us that fairness is desired to ensure a ‘good’ groom or that we Indians perceive well ordered, great ambience supermarkets to be expensive and prefer the chaos of Big Bazar that gives us more value’ 
  2. Individual
    Individuals in the same family can turn out to have very different beliefs and value systems. While this is the most important of all for psycho-analysis, it is of very little use to the marketer. It is very difficult to engineer brands for individuals – and usually tend to be very niche boutique services.
In this context – for creating successful brands, it is important to learn how culture shapes behaviour. Culture is what helps us understand why processed ready foods fail in the Indian market. The Indian mother/ wife has to ‘perform an act of input’ in whatever she is serving. So, even the most successful processed food brand – Maggi – has to have vegetables added to it and has to be ‘made’ by her. It is culture that helps us understand why Margo with neem – with its bitter smell is largely successful in the south but neem’s more palatable face wash avatar as Himalaya, is the largest selling face wash nationally.
The Consumer Belief System
Studying Culture through Semiotics

How then do we study culture? There are many models used by sociologists and anthropologists – the Hofsted being among the more popular in recent time. We are the pioneers in the use of semiotics in the county. Semiotics is quite simply Semiotics is the study of visual and cultural signs to decode behavior.

The signs can be
  • Linguistic
  • Visual
  • Behavioural
These signs have to be moored in the context of a brand or a category. Let us take the Amul example and deconstruct that.

The Amul story is a rich tapestry of semiotic significance at many levels. The foremost Amul discourse is to do with nature of its business itself. Milk, Ghee and Butter have stood for abundance and goodness in the Indian context. Cows have been a symbol of wealth and have been and are revered in almost all parts of India since the Vedic times. I grew up on stories of my grandmother’s wedding where all the bulls in the groom’s party (they travelled in bullock carts) were fed ghee. This was proof of her family’s wealth and status as surely as the number of tolas of gold she received.

Milk and milk products have been akin to ambrosia. Being a provider of milk, therefore, is akin to divinity in the cultural context. Amul, as the primary provider of dairy products did not have to fight any battles of acceptance. The symbolism of milk and milk products is deep. Layered on it, the extraordinarily inspiring story of the formation of a co-operative that gave livelihoods to entire villages and raised standards of living across districts, and the ensuing self-governance of a complex supply chain led organization that increased yields and productivity dramatically,  of a commitment to values before profit (even today, in the event of a milk shortage – Amul diverts its supplies to milk at much lower margins, at the cost of high margin, value added and processed dairy foods), the vision of Dr. Kurien and his steering of Amul towards contributing to a white revolution in the country; the brand has won hearts and minds for many, many reasons to become the Taste of India.

Amul Butter is the product that epitomises the brand. B utter is the result of unadulterated milk and is by nature, pure. Bal Krishna’s love for butter was mythic, and is still celebrated. Krishna, as a child, has epitomised mother-child relationships. The natkhat  Krishna has become the iconic persona that all mothers seek in their child when they say with great pride that their son is “very naughty”.

In that context, the Amul girl is Bal Krishna! No wonder then, that the brand is among India’s most loved.

Whether deconstructing existing brands to ensure retention of key values or creation of new brands – semiotic study gives us deeper insights to ensure that we are able to craft brands which resonate with consumers.

Contributed by Alpana Parida - President, DY Works
PART 1: Conventional consumer segments are no longer valid
PART 2: Need for a new consumer classification method
PART 3: The importance of Culture for Brands


WHO IS THE CONSUMER? (Part 2 of 4)

Last week  we had looked at conventional consumer segments are no longer relevant. In Part 2 this week, we will look at exploring a new approach to consumer classification.

The Need for a New Consumer Classification Method

The Socio Economic Classification does not work. It creates too many biases and leaves out possible lucrative segments. I strongly believe that the world order has changed and we need a new system of consumer segmentation. We call it the DY Works Mindsets Classification. (DYW-MC)

This classification employs a very different cut for determining Age, Income, Education, Profession  and even Gender.


This is not about the real age of the consumer. However, consumers of different ages across the same age mindset – will show similar behaviour
  1. Young - carefree, seeking new experiences, youthful clothing and brands. A 40 year old person with this mindset would be using all the anti-ageing products in the world.
  2. Middle aged – settled, not experimenting, set in ways, not much that is radical. A 40 year old will have solid brands – Ponds, Lux etc. No too many categories – and does not buy new things every time.
  3. Older – simplifying life. Letting go of too much complexity. A 40 year old person would have a soap a shampoo and a moisturizer.

This classification is across income levels and very wealthy HNIs could also be reluctant to replace their mobile phone every six months – whereas a young shop assistant could be far more prolific.

  1. “I am worth it” – We came across a s shoe salesman in a hamlet outside Varanasi who smoked Gold Flake:  “Apni bhi koi ijjat hai”. This is the consumer who  wants everything here and now.  This is where you will see early adopters and real as has nothing to do with it. Men in their 50s who are buying the latest in laptops or cars are part of this mind set.
  2. “Others are worth it” – I will sacrifice to give the best to my family. This the person who we see on KBC, who is going to give his / her money to parents and relatives first. This is the woman who buys for husband, children, home – before buying anything for herself.  There is desire – but can hold off and wait for 2-3 years before buying the flat screen TV or the fully automatic washing machine. Even when buying, would buy an older model which is cheaper.
  3. “We cant afford it” – savings, ‘do I really need it’, seeking many validations and justifications. Seeks rational justifications  and prefers not to spend. Shopping is not a joy – and even post purchase, there is an anguish of guilt. They are simplifying their lives and are able to do with less.

This classification and sub-classification is greatly revealing about a consumer’s mind set and can exactly pin-point aspirations, value systems and more.

  1. White Collar
    1. Bramhins  - those from privileged backgrounds, brand name schools, colleges, jobs.
    2. Fast Track – the young MBA who gets the same salary as a person recruited for sales or operations. In a hurry. Looking for the next big thing – job or own business.
    3. Long Distance – Good dependable, solid – will grow steadily in job, will not change jobs often.
  2. Blue Collar
    1. Waiting to get out – hates the job, is dreaming big. Either own business, or a stab at reality TV/ game shows/ talent shows. Wants more in life.
    2. Work is worship – content. Few needs, dedicated, loyal, steadfast.
  3. Gold Collar
    1. Humble work – disproportionate money. Property Agents, Gas Station Owners. Typically do not have social Status – a visiting card that says – General Manager, Bajaj or a Govt. Designation. Their status is only visible from gold chains and expensive brand names on or about their person.
  4. Young and Restless
    1. First generation entrepreneurs fired by stories of entrepreneurs making it big. Big schemes, big dreams and lots of guts. Driven, passionate, energetic.

If we go beyond the simple gender divide, there is a layered understanding of roles and responsibilities basis the understanding of gender.

  • Metro-sexual  Female
    • Works in an mans world, takes financial decisions
    • Equal partner/ husband changes nappies, cooks as well
  • Metro-sexual  Male
    • Not afraid to show his sensitive side
    • Involved with his appearance – could get facials/ pedicures
  • Working Women
When we define the consumer in this fashion, we understand a great deal about them. But for their deeper truths, we need to understand them in a cultural context.
Contributed by Alpana Parida - President, DY Works
PART 1: Conventional consumer segments are no longer valid
PART 2: Need for a new consumer classification method
PART 3: The importance of Culture for Brands

Follow this space for Part 3 and  Part 4.


WHO IS THE CONSUMER? (Part 1 of 4)


Over the course of 15 years, working with over 800 brands, touching over  1 billion consumers in 25 + countries – we have come across countless briefs where our understanding of the consumer is nebulous at best. Last month – we went through 2 qualitative research reports for the same brand in the same market. The brief went on to describe the consumer as Male, 25-45, B1, B2, B3, C1, C2; seeks control and has a strong sense of family responsibility.


Who is the consumer?

This broad classification of the consumer is totally inadequate – and more importantly (and frighteningly) misleading. It presupposes little change in traditional classifications when India is dramatically changing demographically, sociologically and culturally. The underlying construct of the society is shifting. Speeding this up are technology, media and communications, the fruits of liberalization and a great yearning at the societal level that is now a seeking to establish the ‘great Indian dream’.

We are in the midst of a dynamically evolving society and our fixed points of reference are being challenged every day.

As the largest Brand Strategy/ Brand Design firm in the country, we are leading the charge in redefining the consumers. The old definitions no longer apply.

The trouble with Demographics/ Psycho-graphics.
  • Mercedes and BMW are expecting 30-35% sales to come from rural markets.
  • The age of luxury products in markets such as India and China is lowered to 25-30, as against 45+ in western markets.
  • Mont Blanc is the ultimate IT gift for son-in-laws of middle India.
  • Gopal Vittal is amazed to see the ubiquitous presence of Dove in Dharavi.
  • Vernacular India discovers spaghetti straps and showing skin is increasingly acceptable.
  • First noodles and now pasta is set to take over the after school snack market.

Our neatly ordered world is changing. Rapidly. And our neatly ordered Socio Economic Classification, whether A, B, C, D or A1, A2, B1, B2 is utterly meaningless.

How do we understand the consumer? Knowing the consumer is the foundation for building robust, lasting brands. The most successful brands in the world are the ones that exactly resonates consumers’ innermost desires, motivations or values. For TATA that stands for Trust, it is equally necessary for their customers to WANT trust in a corruption ridden economy, for the brand to resonate. For the Angry Young Man to succeed, there needed a generation of movie goers who were fed up and angry with the system. For Barak Obama to be elected, he had to be as far from Bush as possible.


If the demographic understanding of the consumer is blurring, the psychographics was flawed to begin with. The fundamental flaw in research is that it pre-supposes an extraordinary level of self-awareness on part of consumers/ respondents. That if you ask a consumer what his/ her motivations or desires at the deepest level are – they will articulate them.

There is a possibility of unearthing these, or at least the pointers to these, in qualitative depth interviews. The skill, however, of the interviewer is required to be at par with good psycho-analysts. This seldom is the case. And so, what we get most often is drivel such as: SEC A&B, 25-45, Male. Traditional but aspires to a better life for his kids. Seeks control in his life. Role models are Amitabh Bacchan and Mukesh Ambani.

This is not actionable research. It tells us nothing about the consumer upon which one can construct successful brands.
Contributed by Alpana Parida, President - DY Works
PART 1: Conventional consumer segments are no longer valid
PART 2: Need for a new consumer classification method
PART 3: The importance of Culture for Brands


Making a habit of Visual Mind Mapping

We at DY Works pride ourselves on our design processes. Dharam Ullagadai (ACD - DY Works) had the opportunity to present some of these design techniques with our international design partner - JDK. Here's a quick look at their interaction.

For more information on Design Processes, feel free to contact us at DY Works -
: +91 022 40406767, Delhi:-+91 011 26548089,
Website: www.dyworks.com, Email: contact@dyworks.in


Premium sachet collection in the techno world of Clear Shampoo

Brand Task:
To redesign sachets for Clear making it premium, contemporary and sleek, in line with the new bottle designs. The new bottle design apparently, is a clear winner as per the research for the global re-launch.
It has to be ensured that the sachets have a futuristic look and good shelf throw which is currently missing ,with respect to the bottle and design adaptation
Brand Solution:
DY Works suggested a clutter breaking square structure which would help the sachet position itself differently from the others in the category
DY Works used the mnemonic and the bands as per the bottles but gave it a distinct identity of its own which ensured the required impact without losing the brand architecture
The design was done ensuring that sachet was in line with the bottles in terms of appearance and perception being technologically advanced, up-market and sophisticated with a touch of elegance
The BOP was also developed with great precision and emphasis was on laying out all the content systematically The variants can be identified with the different colored mnemonic


Creating the Green Tea World For Taj

 Brand Task:
There is the new boom in the market for the Green Tea category .Wanting to captivate on the opportunity The Taj team wanted to come up with its own Green Tea range.
The brand wanted to create a space for itself in the lifestyle space rather than in the health zone. The Taj green needed a new fresh look but had to be well aligned to the existing Taj architecture.

Brand Solution:
DY Works studied the Green Tea category extensively to pick the right lifestyle cues which have been interpreted on the pack via the ingredient and origin shots which are the main design elements driving the pack.
The visuals used to connote the variants of green tea were very well thought through and articulated in terms of aesthetics and simple interpretation.
We designed the pack on the lines of the Taj architecture maintaining delicacy and finesses via the Taj motifs and visual imagery.
The pack has been designed with a lot of aesthetic and sophistication value while keeping it flexible for extension to other variants within the category in the future.
The BOP has a very elegant touch to it, by the motifs and other design essence and  maintaining the consistency with the FOP.


Power of 100 lemons lead to one clean swoosh

Brand Task:
A re-launch after 5 years for Vim bar by offering a strong consumer proposition of Faster Degreasing with the existing technology/formula.
Boost the product through more authoritative packaging graphics which communicate the proposition to the consumers

Brand Solution:
We revived the branding logo and extended the unit of single lime to a row of stacked limes, depicting the empowered impact of lime
The impactful swoosh further enforced by the power of lime portrayed through the strong rays of lime entering the vessel & acting as the most impactful degreasing ingredient.
The potent swoosh connoting the cleaning power of the brand in just one stroke with no efforts and consuming the least amount of time.
We have used  fresher and more vibrant greens (color) as compared to the current pack going under re-designing as the entire pack, right from visuals to color to text needs to be extremely obtrude and power driven.


Drunk with numbers

A compilation of brands using numbers as part of their name or visual identity.

For more on branding ... DY Works.


Deconstructing ‘Brand Language’

As markets become complex and the competition is intensifying, traditional manners of keeping the brands alive and talking to its consumers are being challenged.

In this dynamic environment, corporations, who have a broad and diverse portfolio; operating in a number of different categories with a series of product offers designed for varying customer needs…, a well-devised strategic approach gives clarity on portfolio roles, and chalks out relationships between the masterbrand and the child brands.

This leads to a mutually beneficial, optimal relationship both for internal portfolio management as well as external image perceptions

Dynamic environments, ever changing consumer needs and evolving brand portfolios have given rise to what is called a ‘Brand Language / Visual Vocabulary’. The nomenclature has its origin in alphabets : combinations create different words albeit in the same language...

The language approach essentially can keep the two entities in a constant comfortable dialogue; offer a non-restrained adaptive behaviour to the brand as an entity.

It facilitates innovative and optimistic solutions to inspire millions of consumers and employees and enable them to effortlessly live the brand. It can be designed to help deliver the brand experience across touch-points,while maintaining consistency and clarity about what it is and the expression of its promise.

Based on principles devised from the brand positioning and strategic pillars the Language has ‘building blocks’ like Creative Catalyst, Key Visual Gesture, Colour Palette, Tone of Voice, Image Style, Illustration Style, Brand Specific Symbolism, etc.

DY Works helped create Brand languages for Godrej & Boyce and its child brands: Godrej Construction, Godrej Material Handling, Godrej Tooling, Godrej Electricals & Electronics, Godrej Storage Solutions, etc.

Using the ‘Godrej’ Masterbrand promise of ‘Brighter Living’ as an anchor, DY Works helped the sub-brands with their strategic positioning, and creating future-ready unique visual expressions.

Simple, modular, the Language acts as a visual narrator across entire gamut of communication making each dialogue from the brand easy for its consumer.

A bridge which would help these brands move from the staid and commonplace B2B to a energized and vigorous B2B2C; from cold, drudged business vertical to a living, breathing brand. Thanks to its ‘Brand Language

Prashant Shingade, Associate Creative Director, DY Works, prashant@dyworks.in


How Packaging communicates a Brand Refresh

I had a journalist from Business Standard call me to ask - why do you think they have done this hoarding - in a plaintive voice. She had already asked many marketers, brand strategists and other sundry thinkers; and no one seemed to be able to give her an answer.
I confessed to being stupefied myself! What I told her is that when Fair & Lovely radically changed their packaging, they needed to tell the consumer about the change.
When Rin changed to Surf,consumers needed to know of this seminal change. But when 5 Star changed to more-of-the-same-5 Star, there seems no need whatsoever. Indeed, if you put the old and the new packs side by side, you really have to play the "Find the Differences" game.

New packaging rejuvenates brands. Makes them fresher, younger and more relevant.They make the competition look old and not 'with it'.' It is also an opportunity to correct old flaws and build great brand assets.The new 5 Star packaging under-whelms - specifically on two counts.
The first:The logo covers only about half the pack. This is an impulse category - and it has to shout out to consumers. The entire real estate of the pack could have been used for the branding. And dwarfed other wannabes on the retail shelf

The second:The cross-section of the 5 Star bar has been dropped to show some drippy caramel. Consumers want to know what a product looks like when they are asked to put it in their mouths. Whether toothpaste, biscuits or chocolates. The cross-section is critical to cuing the unique 5 Star experience. Dropping it is dangerous.Brands - like people, grow old, atrophy and die - unless continually rejuvenated. A pack change is the most visible aspect of brand rejuvenation and is an opportunity to appeal to younger consumers entering the market. "New 5 Star packaging underwhelms "
Those readers of this column old enough to remember the launch of the ICICI bank will remember it as the challenger brand that shook up the bureaucratic world of banking. From long lines in a crowded sweltering branch, and endless waiting for a peon to carry your cheque from one cubicle to another before a withdrawal could be made, there came a banking experience so customer friendly and literally so much cooler, that an inertia-prone, low-priority decision of choosing your bank and going through the hassle of transferring your bank account, suddenly became top priority. That was some 20 plus years ago.The same bank has grown in size and done very well. But today, the service and ambience it offers is hygiene for the industry. And the same challenger brand appears old and fuddy duddy to the younger consumer. It is time for ICICI to rejuvenate the visible face of the brand. Otherwise, it could see its share eroded to challengers offering a fresher experience.

When Dabur embarked on a rejuvenation exercise close to a decade ago, it faced the same problem. How does a hundred-year-old brand become relevant to a younger India? And so, the old banyan tree was replaced with a younger fresher tree, the iconic Vatika packaging single handedly redefined hair oil as a category and over time a slew of old and new products made the brand relevant to the Gen X consumers. The rejuvenation helped Dabur stand up and be counted. And the rest as they say is history

Alpana Parida is currently President of DY Works (erstwhile DMA Branding) and was previously marketing and merchandising head for Tanishq. The author can be reached alpana@dyworks.in


Adding a refresher variant to the flavours of Taj Mahal tea

Brand Task:
The Taj brand team wanted to add a variant called Taj Masala to their Flavored range, which was designed by DY Works.
The variant needed to blend with the range architecture but yet be recognizable as a distinct variant.

Brand Solution:
We worked on two aspects one being a distinct color which will be the cue for Masala and the other being the ingredient story, both being the core design elements.
The orangish yellow color was selected since it best represents masala flavor and also it wasn’t used for any other variants in the range.
We crafted the design to maintain consistency with the previous packs while differentiating with the help of ingredient shot and the pack color.The entire range needs a uniform look and feel , & Taj Masala seamlessly fits into the range
The BOP was in line with the rest of the range educating the consumers and giving the required information and other mandates.

Contact: Mumbai:+91-022-40406767 Delhi:-1-91 11 26548089 


Domex : The Master Blaster

Brand Task:
The HUL Domex team wanted to communicate its new product feature i.e it turns from white to green during usage. This new product feature leads to perceptions of efficacy in the minds of the consumer.
To make the pack more engaging and informative, but not cluttering the packaging.
Brand Solution:
DY Works studied the product (toilet cleaner) category and found out that Domex is the most de-cluttered pack in the category. However the messaging hierarchy was amiss and communication cues were weak.
Some insights that DY Works gathered from the consumer research were implemented for the packing graphics as well .Like the brand identity and the core pack color (blue) were retained as the consumers identify with it. Further we decided to showcase graphically the Indian and western style commode which was clutter breaking in itself for the category.
We explicitly worked on the layout of the pack ensuring a systematic messaging hierarchy and to be able to highlight the new product feature via an active green formula (nomenclature) depicted by scientific mnemonic which works well with the imagery of the brand, ensuring its core claim of killing all germs dead.
We followed a balanced approach in designing the pack since there was a need to communicate the functional benefits upfront and thus it was a mixture of core facts and aesthetics.

Contact: Mumbai:+91-022-40406767 Delhi:-1-91 11 26548089