Black is the new white! How this traditionally dirty colour is the ‘in’ thing in the cleaning segment.

"Bure nazar walk tera muh kala" is probably the first Hindi phrase we learned in school. Culturally Indian's refer to black as an unclean colour.
For a people obsessed with purity, black has variously represented shame, uncleanliness, ugliness, illegal wealth, demonic roots, inappropriate actions or adulterations in your favorite pulses.

In contrast, "White" has been the standard bearer of being clean.Whether it is the colour of the mythical animal transports of the Hindu pantheon, to the description of your state of mind when your conscience is clean; white is the irrefutable colour of cleansing. From detergents to toilet cleaners, the quest for the "Whitest White" seems to the marketers Holy Grail.

In this black and white world enters a new (more western) paradigm of "Black=Clear".
 If your brand does not want to cheat its customers, then it will be in black. Some of the new platforms for black that are being dialed up include - simplicity and greater potency. 
Here are some examples of the same -

The other area where we see a more generous use of black is in the display of colour.


While one can argue that black is a "macho" colour, you wouldn't readily associate it with candles. While "a light in the dark" would be something that you could also allude to, however, the brand has been overly generous with black, to their credit.

Devatanu Banerjee
VP - Retail & New Media
DY Works


Understanding the health of your social media posts

If you have been using Social Media for business, then your company surely has a Facebook Page. Take a minute to mouse over the statistics of who saw your company posts. You will notice that Facebook classifies your viewers -
  1. Organic
  2. Viral
Understanding this statistic may help you figure out the health and virality of your company facebook page and your posts.
When your facebook post has been viewed by users directly of your company's feed or company page, then it is classified as an 'Organic View'. A large number of Organic views signify that there is healthy traffic on your company's page / feed i.e. People are actually exposed to your content. Having a low Organic viewership means that no one really cares about the content being posted on your facebook page.

When your post has been viewed indirectly via your company's fan's feed or page, then it is classified as a 'Viral View'. A large number of Viral views signify not only are your fans seeing your content, but they are passing it along to their friends and popularizing your content. Having low Viral viewership means that your content does not resonate among those who are your immediate fans i.e. not too many people outside your circle are talking about your content.

ORGANIC v/s VIRAL: Which is better?
Obviously both are important, however, to enjoy the real benefits of social  media, you should aim for higher viral views compared to organic views. Organic views signify the fruits of your online efforts to create action among existing fans. Viral views, on the other hand, signify that your fans are working hard to popularize your content. They may even be recruiting new fans on your behalf. Viral activity actually multiplies your own social media effort. Therefore, in my opinion, good marketers should aim for higher viral viewership.

More than one social media marketing site points out that talking about your company's products or services does not help virality. Your company's fans respond to emotion better. Here are a content buckets that score higher on virality -
  • Showcasing your company as a workplace where employees are shown in a candid and honest manner
  • Showing your product or services being used by end consumers
  • Humour (related to the product category or the product usage)
Our own experience attests this fact. One of the most viral posts from DY Works was not about our products or service, but a non-commercial creative project taken up by two of our designers.

Hope this helps you tweak the content on your company's facebook page and change the way you approach social media content.


Devatanu Banerjee
VP - Retail & New Media
DY Works


How far is too far?

The Business Standard - Monday, December 10, 2012

It  is difficult and expensive to build a brand. High media clutter, high shelf-clutter and high mind-space clutter (coupled with ever shortening attention span by consumers) makes for very few successful new brands in the country. It can be argued that apart from a very select handful that includes Fastrack, Café Coffee Day and Big Bazaar, there are no truly successful new brands out there. The lure of brand extensions is understandable as it utilises the current equity of a brand and leverages it for brands to foray in other categories.

Brand extensions fail, sometimes, disastrously. Nirma, a brand synonymous with detergent powder (every time we hear Nirma, the next line “washing powder Nirma” follows tunefully in our minds) launched Nirma Shudh Salt. Does that mean Titan — known for watches – should not enter eyewear?

Titan Eye is, after all, struggling to be profitable. Or that Wipro should be only ‘applying thought’ to their IT business and not to diapers and soaps? Ponds stretched the brand from its iconic Dreamflower Talc to the new age Age Miracle/Perfect Radiance range. The brand has not as much as stretched, but has snapped into two – the two Ponds stand for different things.

So, what are the principles of successful brand architecture? The answer lies at the core of the brand. Tata, for decades, has stood for trust. Since that is at the core, the brand extends anywhere where trust is important. Trust, however, is basic. It works for generic products such as salt but does not work where the consumer seeks more than trust. Tanishq stands for design but the Tata Gold Plus brand stands for trust. As for Rolls Royce, it is the ultimate super luxury car. Does that equity help in the space of aircraft engines? If Rolls Royce had stood for technology or innovation, it could traverse the course to not just aircraft engines but perhaps any high-end equipment; but luxury makes the stretch not so successful.

The closer the new product connects with the existing core value proposition of the brand, the more likely it will be able to diversify. For instance, Kingfisher (its current troubles notwithstanding) as the King of Good Times, can expand into different categories such as liquor, airline, calendars and Formula 1; as against Jet Airways that only stands for a ‘world-class flying experience’, and can only extend into air-related businesses.

Over-extending the brand or using it indiscriminately is potentially prone to failure. Take Lifebuoy’s first attempt at launching a talcum power under the same brand. The product was positioned on the family health platform in clear dissonance with the core proposition of the talcum powder category — beauty. The variant was discontinued and re-launched as prickly heat powder, which supposedly resonates better with the core values of the Lifebuoy. Even where the brand name seamlessly extends across categories, it is important to not fall into a ‘click and extend’ trap such as the one Himalaya has fallen into. Himalaya sells a range of herbal/ayurveda product across hair, skin and oral care under one umbrella brand. While it is a great brand extension strategy, there was needed a visual demarcation as the sea of sameness makes it difficult for the consumer to navigate across a shop shelf and new variants invariably vanish without a trace. In such cases design solutions are required to maximise opportunity for the brand.

Alpana Parida is President (alpana@dyworks.in) and Priyanka Shah,  GM - Strategy,  of  DY Works, a leading brand strategy and design firm.


Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani

The Financial Express - Tuesday, Nov 20, 2012

There are two different stores for organic food in the 2 km radius around my house in Mumbai. There are more sprouting in Chennai, Bangalore, Pune and more. From Vadodara to Vizag – there are murmurs of local entrepreneurs looking at organic foods as a business opportunity.

Really? Firstly, what is organic food? In India – there is no regulatory body such as the USDA that certifies food as organic. In absence of clear and widely known standards of organic food, there is little agreement on what is considered organic. More importantly, who cares?

For the Indian consumer, his/ her real worries are contaminated / sewage water used for irrigation, high level of pesticides used on the crop and perhaps genetically modified crops (ever since I read about porcine genes used for making fleshy potatoes—I am spooked!). The danger of bringing a foreign concept into India ‘as is’, is this: you can completely miss the real opportunity and can spend decades trying to educate a consumer rather than cater to their specific needs.

The so-called organic food industry would do well to call themselves ‘pesticide-free’ or ‘toxic-free’ rather than trying to force a nation to learn the meaning of organic.

For decades, the industry’s insistence on using the word ‘yoghurt’ instead of ‘curd’ or ‘dahi’ was mystifying. In the last few years, dairy brands have stumbled onto the incredible concept that consumers will be more responsive to the familiar!

But this learning does not seem to extend to the use of the word ‘pro-biotic’. What is it really? Every Indian knows that curd is good for digestion and curd rice is the easiest thing to digest – for babies to seniors. Would not a ‘super dahi’ or a ‘curd plus’ kind of nomenclature demystify this category?

Category after category—we see a rush to bring in foreign categories/ products/ brands to India—with barely a nod to local needs. But imported concepts do not translate into market successes and remain peripheral brands. To grow truly big— in a country such as ours—the answers need to be local. McDonald’s, Domino’s, Lays and others have all learnt the lessons of localisation with local flavours and cuisines becoming part of the local offering.

For others, the global dictates are so strong—that local opportunities are completely lost. For eons now, Harpic has been the overwhelming market leader in the toilet cleaner category. The closest challenger Domex is a distant second. It stays true to its global positioning of ‘germ kill’.

“Germs in the toilet” is not an Indian worry. Keeping it clean is. Preserving the increasingly upgraded bathroom’s pristine whiteness and caring for the marble and fancy ceramic fixtures is. Harpic is acid based. Domex contains bleach. One corrodes ceramic surfaces and ruins expensive fittings. The other maintains them continually. The word acid itself is full of negative connotations (think acid attacks and acid rain) and the other is a super cleaner. Nothing else. The opportunity for Domex to capitalise on its arch rival’s fundamental premise is enormous. Yet, it stands for ‘germ kill’ alone.

Thinking afresh is an imperative for Indian products. We were creating an Indian version of a pasta sauce for Mutti, one of Europe’s largest manufacturer of tomato products. While we ensured that the recipe was ‘Indian’ (higher sweet, salty and sour notes, greater spice levels)—we were assuming that the packaging format to be the same as it is globally—a glass jar. That is, till we conducted an ethnographic study of Indian kitchens and found that everything in jars—whether pickles, ghee or jam—came out by the spoon.

There was no behaviour whatsoever of a jar being overturned for a single use. Overturning a jar gave even the most affluent housewives a sense of over-use. To truly grow the pasta sauce market—we launched this product in pouches and market success validated the hypothesis.

Global products need to truly Indianise. Not just in terms of creating a local version of the same ads— but finding a deeper relevance for the Indian consumer in terms of positioning, naming and building in cultural cues that make the products relevant to India. The market size for “pesticide-free vegetables” is exponentially larger than “organic produce”.

The author is president, DY Works. She can be reached at alpana@dyworks.in


Indian homes: Shanti Nivas to Casa Grande

Alpana Parida,

Not just names, even the way Indians view their homes has changed. It's no longer the place where we let our masks slip but an avenue for showing off our international tastes and aspirations.

Homes used to be the very definition of our roots - and our current home was to be clearly distinguished from our 'ancestral home' or 'native place'. The women in the home were exalted as grih laxmis and this was a sanctified place that was not to be desecrated. Liquor was consumed outside, perhaps in the verandah or terrace and in vegetarian homes, the non-vegetarian indulgences - if any - were outside.

Homes were unsullied by the external world, they were havens that protected us not only from the elements but from the sullying effects of alien cultures. They were also places where we could let our masks slip. We spoke in our mother tongue, ate with our hands from stainless steel thalis and threw mattresses on the floor for extra guests - who were both frequent and many. They were spaces that were shared with no concept of personal space.

Our homes were where we stored everything and threw nothing. Mismatched curtains and sofas, the totally inappropriate machine made carpet (woolen in Mumbai?) and the Eureka Forbes vacuum cleaner (bought but never used), to say nothing of the bric-a-brac in show cases, the souvenirs from foreign trips and the sundry kitsch that defied provenance;all jostled for space.

Our homes were called Shanti Nivas, Gauri Sadan, Upasana, Diwan Shree, Kanchenjunga, Usha Kiran, Sah Jeevan and such like. They rooted us and we built our lives around our homes. Kids grew up and left - but the homes remained, often sprawling, unmanageable properties - with the ageing parents who stayed on as caretakers of a home that no longer was suitable for their life stage. Selling the home was never an option.

So much has changed about the way we view our homes now. For starters - the names have undergone a total transformation. Now we have Palm Springs, Miami Vista, Silver Oak, Hamilton Court, Bellissimo and Casa Grande in not only the metros, but in smaller towns like Kochi, Vadodara and Ranchi. The real estate industry is selling maximized spaces with minimalistic dêcor. Pristine white leather sofas and wooden or Italian flooring have become de jure. Interior decorators have mushroomed and coordinated walls and curtains have become a necessity.

The homes themselves appear international. A cursory analysis of real estate advertising throws up properties with views - both the interior and the exterior, that could be anywhere in the world. There is little of India that you see. The lure is that of an international lifestyle with jacuzzis and swimming and/ or plunge pools, rain showers and fitted kitchens;the new world is the promise of an escape. Exemplified by the hiding of all ugly things - the functional - the wires, the flush tank, the switchboards - and keeping only the aesthetics.

In less than a generation, we are living international lives. Our homes are no longer the place where we celebrate our traditional lifestyles, the one refuge where we can be ourselves. They are places where we flaunt our international tastes and aspirations. Where no mismatched dêcor exists and our interiors are as much statements of style as our clothing is.

Our need for making the indulgent, the everyday is now a necessity: the occasional indulgences of the past have become a way of life today at so many levels. The entertainment - which used to be the eagerly awaited Chitrahaar, the Sunday movie and the few English serials have given way to a 24-hour bonanza of channels and programs. The rare dessert or soft drinks that were the highlights of festivals or weddings, reside in our refrigerators and have inundated the everyday - chocolate has become the daily meetha. From at most twothree pairs of shoes/chappals - we now have a countless array. There is nothing occasional about anything in our life anymore.

In such a scenario - the occasional foreign trip, the stay at the luxury hotel or resort are no longer sufficient as rare indulgences. We want the experience everyday, just as we want 24x7 entertainment every day. We want our homes to become like the luxurious and sanitized world of hotels.

The aspiration of the foreign was always a promise of a better world. From hankering for brands/products that visiting relatives would bring in, we have tasted the foreign shores ourselves. We no longer are the recipients of others' largesse. We travel from Pattaya to Patagonia and eat pasta and paella. We shop abroad and take gifts to the same relatives who had brought us the coveted Yardley perfume and the microwaveable popcorn. We tell them to not bring anything because "Now you get everything in India".

In this taking of control of our aspirations, is the key to how we look at homes today. We are no longer content with morsels of the good life. We seek it and acquire it. The rise of the new "gated communities" is due to the fact that they create a bubble, a haven that we can escape to. It is the formation of a community where we belong, we trust and we celebrate.

The discourse of homes today is that they are as symbolic of an "escape from" as they are of an "escape to". They are as much a seeking of an international, luxury experiences as they are of escaping the current breakdown of communities.

Alpana Parida is President of DY Works (alpana@dyworks. in), a leading brand strategy and design firm. The article has inputs from Snehasis Bose, Senior VP, strategy


Rejuvenating brands through design

Brands, like people, grow old and risk becoming irrelevant or less desirable unless they rejuvenate themselves continuously.

Trends change, fashions change; and a brand that does not change with the times ends up looking as out of place in consumer’s lives as bell bottoms are in a world of skinny jeans!!

Consumers are defining their selves through brands and their aspirations; their self-images are formed by the set of brands they consume. So, Samsung and not Videocon, FastTrack not Titan, Peter England and not Double Bull are choices made, to become symbols of self-expression.  Brands, therefore, need to mirror the consumer’s aspirations and needs.

When we worked on the Dabur rejuvenation, we reinvented an over 125 year old brand to make Ayurveda relevant to a younger Indian and lift it from the ‘brown’ ingestible powders and pills to other contemporary categories in foods and skin care. Himalaya followed in creating a more contemporary face of Ayurveda. As the younger Indian is looking to negotiate with tradition – a conclusion born out by behaviour:  through the cocktails and dance in the evening and the traditional wedding in the morning or the touching of feet of elders in the family and being on first name basis with their international bosses; both these brands have made space for themselves in the Indian consumers’ lives and shelves as they themselves have negotiated tradition as brands.

Another powerful brand – Vicco – has missed the boat entirely. It appears old and dated and its fortunes are reflected in its low market shares. In 30 years, it hasn’t changed much and its traditional roots do not appeal today. Nonetheless, it has great brand equity (PE firms take note) and a good rejuvenation exercise can make it a powerhouse once more to take on Dabur and Himalaya head –on.

While logos play an important role in how a brand is perceived, packaging can be an equally powerful tool to make brands contemporary.

Packaging, much more than advertising, is what causes conversions. It is what consumers pay for, and dictates actual brand experience closely. Fastrack has broken the mould on classic, elegant watches and has a very strong and distinctive brand personality. The difference between a Titan and a Fastrack is not just in the design of the watches. It is in the attitude and personality of the wearer as well.

The packaging plays a very strong role in driving this brand experience further. Fastrack packaging is a tin – that is not the traditional flip top box. At the very outset – it challenges convention. Secondly, it evokes a rugged and raw world, which is also part of the brand’s personality. Thirdly it borrows from the world of liquor (it looks like a cut off container of a whiskey bottle) – lending an edgier aspect to the brand.

In category after category, particularly in the FMCG product categories; packaging can play a very important role in building the brand.

See the two images below of Fem Hand Soap and Santoor Hand Soap – a structure we created as far back as 2005.  The Santoor packaging caused a disruption in a low engagement category (as compared to skin care) to drive sales and market shares.

The rub off of such packaging also impacted the parent brand – Santoor Soap positively. In some categories, packaging can drive innovations. The zip lock bag for namkeens or rice/ dal/ atta; the easy squeeze tube for glue, the hand pump for shampoos/ moisturisers, liquid soaps – all add to the functionality of the product and can add significant value to consumers. They are willing to pay more for this.

Categories such as tooth brushes – which are generally very low engagement categories after purchase see a disproportionate engagement during purchase. Here the product and the packaging win the day. The colour, the brightness, the shape are all features that directly lead to conversion. The behaviour at the time of purchase is almost similar to one of buying a ‘dinky’ car.  The role of product design and packaging in winning market shares is very significant.

In an era of highly cluttered media spaces and pressures on cutting costs and advertising budgets, marketers need to discover the power of design in building brands. There are true market opportunities to be tapped. The rewards are just waiting to be reaped.

Alpana Parida
President, DY Works


When the realty bug bites …

… it’s entirely possible to be upwardly mobile and retain the local flavour.

There was a time, not so long ago, when our homes were places where we were ourselves. If we spoke English outside, we spoke our mother tongues at home. If we used spoons and forks outside, we ate with our hands at home. If we used fine china for guests, we used steel plates at home. It was a place where we had puja rooms or our own alcoves, where we had mismatched curtains and bedspreads, where comfort was more important than design.

The names of the homes or buildings were Ashiana, Gauri Sadan, Upasana, Diwan Shree, Kanchenjunga, Jal Darshan, Sah Jeevan and the like. From the Nineties onwards came the influx of the Silver Oak, Garden Estate, Palm Meadows, Oceana Towers and Grande Vistas. More lyrical and whimsical names also found their way: Windmills of the Mind and Whispering Meadows became a part of the landscape. Specific locations were evocative, with Mantri Espana and Lodha Bellissimo emerging. Promising international lives, developments have come up in smaller towns as well with Balinese villas being promised in Baroda and Spanish haciendas in Chandigarh.

In less than a generation, we are living lives international. Our homes are no longer the places we celebrate our traditional lifestyles, the one refuge where we can be ourselves. They are places where we flaunt our international tastes and aspirations, where no mismatched décor exists and our interiors are as much statements of style as our clothing is.

We, however, remain proud Indians. We celebrate our cinema, enjoy our music, dance to the bhangra and follow our rituals. So how does this dichotomy exist? How do we explain this exuberant chasing of Western lives with such Indian hearts?

For one, we are fed up of the squalor around us. We are fed up of things that don't work and systems that break down. We long for the escape to international destinations but we no longer want to run away there. There is enough and more in the fabric of Indian culture and the robustness of the Indian economy to moor us here. We simply want to bring the experience here. On our turf, on our terms. And live in bubbles constructed to keep the chaos of India out of carefully crafted realities.

The rise and rise of the new gated communities is the success of this bubble that allows for an escape from the squalor of India.

While the real estate developers have got that right, they all seem to be doing the same thing.

The images appear empty and perhaps they work as the Indian consumer is looking to escape from the jostling crowds outside.

The escape in the gated bubble has become a category promise and real estate brands will have to go beyond that to differentiate. Perhaps they need to channel learnings from other categories, such as the hotels and hospitality business.

Hotels have stood as symbols of luxury long before real estate made the claim. Taj, Oberoi or even the State-owned Ashoka offered islands of luxury. And cloistered spaces that kept the world out. They borrowed heavily from local influences and yet kept a global language. Chettinad, Kerala or Rajasthani, local architecture, art and names dominate the hotel industry.

Other countries see successful elements of local art and architecture incorporated. We are proud Indians. We value our heritage and customs. Real estate brands that leverage that insight would be able create robust, differentiated brands.

The Abu Dhabi airport borrows from the sand dunes of Arabia to create a unique structure. The interiors are also inspired by local motifs, and create a perfect juxtaposition of the modern with the local.

When we had worked on a property being developed by Tata Realty and Infrastructure Ltd (TRIL), located on the Kochi Marine Drive, we found a local culture that took great pride in its roots.

The language was rich and spoken, there was a thriving cultural and literary tradition, Kerala locks and roofs were distinctive elements of local architecture and yet the names of local real estate developments were Sahara Grace, Jairaj Spectrum, Jairaj Starling, Trump Marvel, Eminence, Imperial Gardens, Triton, Link Horizon, Prestige Neptune’s Courtyard, Sunshine Court, Ivy League, Palm Top, Marigold, Solitaire, Good Earth Reflections – to name just a few.

We convinced TRIL that they should celebrate the local culture, and the property, located at the confluence of the sea, land and sky was called Tritvam.

There is a huge opportunity for real estate developers to maximise the appeal of their properties by keeping the codes of luxury spaces that are gated communities, but also by borrowing from local sensibilities.

(Alpana Parida is president of DY Works. The views expressed are personal.)


The big deal about ‘Trust at first sight’ - PART I

When I started my research about this topic, most people gave me a matter of fact reasoning – “trust is earned”, “bharosa to barson mein banta hai” and similar blah... But if trust was only so much about long term relations, why do we end up trusting (almost) random people with life’s important decisions - the friend’s mother you were able to pour heart out to, that broker who was able to convince you to buy a bigger house or the fund manager who managed to increase your confidence in a risky investment option, or for everyone who had an arranged marriage - the guy/girl you met once and decided to get married to…Huh! Now how does that happen??

So dear readers, in the next few lines/paragraphs/pages(!) I would try to scrape off the tip of the iceberg called ‘trust’ and our mysterious abilities to indulge into it almost instantly when encountered with suitable triggers. However, let me note here that there’s hardly any formula that you might find here, infact it might raise more questions instead…but that’s where the meat lies!

So coming back, it’s obviously much easier to build trust with the luxury of time, when you get multiple opportunities in various situations, like the colleague I met on my first day of job, the guys/girls some of you would have dated before getting married. But there are many more situations, where one has to make up one’s mind almost instantly or create an instant impression – like an arranged marriage meeting, a job interview, a new client meeting, a new bank/financial company experience or the simplest – the 3 seconds window that a new brand gets sitting on the super market shelf!

Our mind stores information in clusters. Like an automated sorter, we unconsciously make patterns from everything that we experience through life. Every new experience/thing/instance gets decoded by our contextual selves and gets associated with one of the numerous existing patterns in our head.

Trust works the same way too, through our lives we learn to trust many people, places, things, products, brands, symbols etc. Based on these we create patterns of trust which act like a filter to asses each new experience we get into. While the filter aims at finding intrinsic values which can be tested in the long term, it also looks for physical attributes which usually give us the confidence to trust almost instantly.

Now imagine getting hold on the general patterns of this ‘trustable physicality’ which if incorporated in new stuff gives a chance of creating instant trust! Now, that’ll be cool!
In order to find this eluding answer, I started a semiotic decoding of people/places/things that we already trust, which did take me to some interesting spaces.

Starting with people, the one person who everyone trusts?

Simple answer: Mother

Before I say further, imagine an image of a mother, NOT necessarily your mother, someone imaginary but one who could completely epitomize trust & reliability.

…….(Yeah. I really want you to imagine)

Do you see a middle aged woman, healthy-ly curvy/ slightly plump, dressed in a sari/salwar kameez, accessorized with gold bangles, earrings or a neck chain, a round red bindi and comfortable footwear.
Having tried this on 20 people, I got this characterization 90% of the time!

Besides uncovering our stereotypical selves (thanks to Nirupa Roys & Tulsis of the world), this points towards 3 key physical aspects:
  1. The healthy plumpness
  2. The age
  3. The Traditional but simple attire
Let’s see what is it about them that helps exuberate trust:

The Healthy Plumpness: A loving, trustable mother can never be thin or even tending towards it. The plumpness is like the mark, a reminder of her having gone through the maternal bliss of pregnancy, the union of the child & the bearer, something so pure and complete that it just cannot be shed away as extra pounds. It also symbolizes the inherent softness and completeness of her very role. Skinny or angular features give a certain edginess/cunning-ness to the character which is completely out of place for a mother in our culture.

Further, circles/spheres are also the most used symbols of denoting complete-ness and stability. There’s must be a reason why there’s a ‘Circle of trust’ & not ‘square of trust’!

Now put this learning into the hard corporate world. Remember the most trusted company of India. Now remember its identity:

A rounded identity outline with smoothed lines and chunky plump font. Spot on!

Check identities of other institutes where trust is a key requirement - like banks as they deal with money - they would follow similar style:
The age: The trustable mother needs to have some years of experience behind her. A sense of oldness cues knowledge, experience and hence credibility. Just the pretense of age-old-ness can lend a hell lot of trust.

A 16 yr old Mumbai real estate builder has a logo which makes it look like 100 yrs old brand… see it to believe it!

Other similar examples of brands which exhibit ‘age old experience’ as a key design thought:

The Traditional simple attire: The traditional-ness of the attire takes us to an older, authentic, tried and tested space where one could just trust without any skepticism, where one can be a child again and get rid of the responsibilities & stress of current life. Add to it the simple-ness of the attire, it cues
uncomplicating life by moving back to the roots where the world is pure and unadulterated.

Many brands use this value of simple authenticity that can instantly connect with the consumer:

So that’s about mommy dear, but does this define the world of trust?, Hell no! Remember the scraping of the iceberg….well we’ve just started….more on this in Part II.

By Runjhun Pacholi
AGM – Strategy
DY Works


Creating Indian Brands is the need of the hour

Alpana Parida, an IIM–Ahmedabad alumna, is the face of a variety of branding solutions. Currently she works as President at DY Works, an established brand consulting and brand design firm. Some of the achievements that DY Works has to its credit are brand creation for Bingo and Yippie Noodles (ITC Foods), brand architecture for Nerolac and Kurkure and brand rejuvenation for Dabur. Parida has also worked as the Head of Marketing for an organic food company in the US. Prior to joining DY Works, she worked as Marketing and Merchandising Head at Tanishq.

Adgully caught up with Alpana Parida as she talks about the nuances of branding.

Alpana has been a part of the advertising industry for a really long time. Talking about her journey she says, The callibre of people who joined advertising was very different earlier. Higher advertising resulted in higher market share. Today however with the market, advertising has also become very cluttered. Categories have multiplied, brands in the categories have grown exponentially and the variants under the brands have grown tremendously. The shelf price however has remained the same. The importance of the retail outlet and the shelf has grown dramatically. This has led to consumers becoming increasingly aware of what they want.”

Alpana says that although there is a lot of market research available today, very little of it is actually usable. Research which gives deep insights into the market structure is rare. She points out that semiotic analysis is the answer to this problem. Semiotic analysis helps in understanding brands and thus helps in creating brands which are unique to India.

Speaking about how the branding scene has evolved in India, she said, In the Indian context, we are adopting foreign constructs. This gives us marketing cues which are irrelevant. Thus, the creation of brands in the Indian cultural context seems to be missing altogether.” She states that there is an immediate need of studying our culture properly and building brands on the basis of these studies.

Providing insights into what can be done to improve the situation at hand Alpana said, There are very few truly successful Indian brands which have used the understanding of the Indian basics, even for product design and development. Brands can create huge differentiation through product design and packaging design as well as packaging structure design. The market needs to concentrate on these critical aspects.”

Talking about some of the immediate goals of DY Works, she said, “There are several objectives in mind. We do a lot of work internationally in places like United States, Singapore, and Middle East. So, we are trying to gain a foothold there as we look forward to establishing our offices outside India. This would be the definitely be the immediate growth plan. The larger and long term objective is to evangelize the need for branding and creating strong brands that can actually build market shares rather than advertising.

Some of the core competencies of DY Works are brand strategy and brand design. Shedding light on the brand design process, Alpana said, There are different kinds of branding solutions. One of them is import wherein; expats set up shop and offer brand solutions in India. The other kind is freelancers and young designers. Brand Design has to be a strategic answer to a brand problem .This is the most crucial part. When people choose a branding solution they should ensure that there is a strategic problem that is being answered through the design otherwise it would just remain a pretty picture.”

Commenting on the importance of the digital media in the brand-building process, she said, The digital platform has become increasingly important in the recent times. Anybody can access your brand from anywhere in the world and the experience they get is of utmost importance. People have enormous power today. The best thing about the medium is that you can have direct access to your consumers and thus interact with them on a greater level. It is equally an opportunity as much as it is something that you need to watch out for.

Alpana believes that the visibility in advertising need not be so much as the visibility on the shelf as she states that the moment of truth changes from the time consumers watch the advertisement to the time they actually buy the product.

Alpana Parida is currently reading a book by Roland Barthes; a French author who is also a semiotician. The book is about mythology and provides an understanding of how cultural material can be used to understand societies. “At DY Works, we use a lot of semiotics and the author was an early proponent of semiotics, she concludes.

By Aditi Popat [aditi(at)adgully.com] - AdGully


ClickSangeet - Soft Launch

It is with great pride that we announce that ClickSangeet has now been launched in public domain. DY Works had the privilege of working with this Music Learning Start-up on their Corporate Naming, Visual Identity, Brand Language and Brand Manuals.

The company has recently uploaded its pre-launch website. They begin operations in July 2012.

Our best wishes are with them.

Team DY Works

P.S. A special mention of praise to Mamta, Prajakta and Vibhor who have made this possible by their tireless and dedicated efforts.


Amul moppet captures India over the years

By Disha Thakker, Exchange4Media, Thursday, May 31, 2012

You must have laughed at Amul moppet’s wisecrack ‘Korbo lorbo Eatbo’ on KKR’s IPL victory. This one may not have made it to ‘Amul’s India’, a book brought out by Amul along with its ad agency DaCunha Communications, but a lot of others chronicling important events in India over a span of 50 years form a part of the forthcoming volume.

DaCunha Communications has been handling the Amul account for five decades. It has brought out iconic wisecracks on billboards and print that have been the hallmark of brand Amul. The book is published by Collins Business, part of HarperCollins publishers, in a joint venture with the India Today Group. The book’s cover says ‘Based on 50 years of Amul Advertising by DaCunha Communications’.

The volume which is to be officially launched on June 11 in Mumbai and June 13 in Delhi is a compilation of write-ups and interviews of various personalities on their perceptions of the brand. It has been brought together by Rahul DaCunha, who now manages DaCunha Communications. He has managed to get on board celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan, Harsha Bhogale, Sania Mirza, Rahul Dravid, Shobhaa De, Rajdeep Sardesai, Milind Deora, Sunil Gavaskar, Shyam Benegal and Santosh Desai.

Other people who have contributed to the book include industry experts and veterans such as Dr V Kurien, Manish Jhaveri, Alpana Parida, Anil Kapoor, Alyque Padamsee and of course Rahul and Sylvester DaCunha.

“The Amul brand has become iconic due to its advertising campaigns, primarily on hoardings, in the last five decades. Hence, we thought of bringing out this book which not only has compilation of 200+ evergreen topical ads but also commentary on the same from leading celebrities, authors, ad men and like to give the readers a unique perspective – both as a medium and the message,” said RS Sodhi, Chief General Manager, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Amul).

Brand design company DY Works has designed ‘Amul’s India’ that traces the journey of the dairy product brand from 1967 when the first hoardings of the brand’s mascot, the chubby moppet, appeared on a few lamp-posts in Mumbai.

The Amul ads have been ‘live’ and still bring smiles to people’s faces. We wanted to create a ‘living’ collection – which pushed the reader to engage and analyse rather than ‘collect’. The idea was to invite writers, social commentators, ad men and of course, the ‘victims’ of the hoardings themselves – to bring forth their unique viewpoint. Harsha Bhogale has written about cricket and the Amul hoardings, Santosh Desai on a changing India and Amitabh Bacchan on his personal recollection of being an Amul subject,” said Alpana Parida, President, DY Works.

A quote from the book sums it all up: “This book portrays how the endearing moppet and her tongue-in-cheek humour helped a milk producers’ co-operative create a ‘White Revolution’… it is a chronicle of India through the eyes of the Amul Girl.”


DY Works - Amul's India - Book Promo

The Amul ads have been 'live' and still bring smiles to people's faces. DY Works presents and anthology of these icon ads created by Da'Cunha Associates - a 'living' collection -- which pushed the reader to engage and analyse rather than 'collect'.

The Amul hoardings are markers of Indian contemporary and popular history and have touched many lives. Read views of various eminent personalities like Amitabh Bacchan, Harsha Bhogale, Santosh Desai, Cyrus Broacha, Milind Deora, Rahul Dravid, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sania Mirza, Shobha De, Shyam Benegal, Sunil Gavaskar, Sylvester daCunha and of course Dr. Kurien -- who gave us a few words. The people behind the brand were roped in as well including Rahul daCunha, Manish Jhaveri, Anil Kapoor and Alpana Parida.

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



Financial Express - 15th May 2012

As consumers move from their homes where they see ads, to the point of sale where they are reaching out for their wallets, they need more and more rational information as against emotive hooks. That’s when the back of the pack becomes crucial

No matter how much you advertise, and how many awards you win, it is the actual sale of a product that ensures growth and brings in profits. At the time when a consumer is buying the product, there is nothing stronger than the packaging itself to clinch the deal. The imagery, or the need identification could have been driven by advertising, but when the consumer is deciding Harpic or Domex, Kelloggs or Baggry's, Medimix or Margo; the packs have to work hard to convert consumers at the retail shelf.

While the Front of Pack (FOP) interests and engages the consumer from 10ft to when the consumer handling the pack at 2 ft (arm’s length), it is the back of pack (BOP) that seals the deal. If the consumer is interested enough to pick the pack up and has turned the pack over to read the BOP, the consumer is yours. If you lose that consumer, then the BOP has failed big time. It has failed to provide information that would have caused conversion. Will I know how to use it? Is it easy? Are the ingredients good? Is this going to provide nutrition? Is it worth the price?

This is an opportunity to tell the brand / product story as the consumer is actively seeking information to rationalise the purchase decision. Too often the BOP says nothing at all. Or it says too much. The copy is too long, the font is too small, and it is an opportunity lost to win the consumer.

The Kellogg’s BOP does a great job telling the oats story. (Except that the BOP says oat flakes on top and cornflakes on bottom. Huh? What did I miss?)

The brand story is neatly placed, the product benefits are highlighted, and everything the brand needs to say is there.

The bowl of oats highlights the serving suggestions and the Iron Shakti mnemonic completes the brand USP.

But why so many verbose and repetitive messages? “All these help in keeping your family healthy” and “So give your family the advantage of Iron Shakti and ready-to-eat oats in a single bowl”. And “Mental performance depends on ade- quate Iron at every stage of life— for all members of your family.” And in case you didn’t get it, “This is because: Iron Deficiency leads to reduced attention span and lack of concentration that affects children’s performance at school and adults performance at work”. The iron story is further bolstered by the Iron Shakti logo and the blurb that says “this is the best source of iron”. This copy, I suspect, was on an internal power point and then cut and paste on the pack!

Further, the one thing that a corn flakes box allows you is pack real estate – that sits in front of the consumer as they are eating their daily bowl. The pack can have engagement devices built in. Puzzles, iron facts, Kelloggs history, possible recipes - they can all be extremely interactive devices that continue the relationship with the consumer long after the pack is bought.

In contrast, you have the Sofit pack. Who, why, what – all neatly detailed and succinct. The visual accentuates the health/ fitness proposition through a simple device of a measure tape that extends from the front of pack. The delicious glass adds to drool appeal and says pick me up. The taste parameters are not overdone (it is soya after all) and the pack real estate is beautifully used. The chocolate and the soya ingredients tell the rest of the story – and the chances are high that the consumers will read everything on the BOP and buy the product.

Genteel? A large bottle (2kg), and the point size is so small, my eyes hurt to read it. The real estate of the large shrink wrap (not just a 4x2 label) bottle is totally wasted and all the relevant information is inside a blue bone-shaped unit. The shape does not borrow from the category or the brand, and only distracts. The BOP has large blank spaces that are dead zones – and could have been used to tell the story better. As a consumer, I would like to know that my sweaters would not shrink and my Kanjivarams will stay pristine. It could communicate to me interestingly through visuals and mnemonics. Does neither, and I will bet anyone who cares to, this brand has lost share.

As consumers move from their homes where they are seeing advertising, to the point of sale where they are reaching out for their wallets, they need more and more rational information as against emotive hooks. In this case, the colour of the product and the texture of the product are shown through a window. The uses and relevant surfaces are visually depicted. Any potential consumer gets all the relevant information and the product is sold.

The back of pack is what wins consumers. The FOPs can engage them; the BOPs are what they are reading. Indeed, for every high engagement category – the consumer wants to know more. If you are a marketer, pay attention to the BOP and you could see a 3-3-5% spike in sales due to that alone.

The writer is president of DY Works. The views expressed here are her own


Retail Glossary: Asymmetric Retail Units

The 30% yoy growth of modern trade in India is leading to an increase in demand for retail design innovation. As part of the DY Works retail scanning activities, we bring to you a new trend that seems to be surfacing – Asymmetric Retail Units.

Here are a few brands that have recently deployed Asymmetric Retail unitsBlack Label, Loreal and Tata Tea – Tea Veda.

Images from Point of Purchase Magazine
The thought is fairly simple – take a traditional FSU; create visual strata (layers) and rotate each layer around the vertical axis.

  1. Breaks the visual clutter
  2. Point of differentiators for early adopters
  3. For stand alone, four side open units, these enhance visibility from multiple angles
  1. The design is not easily to units that have less than four side open
  2. Are not efficient in terms of stacking efficiency
  3. May not perform well under conditions of regular handling or movement
  4. If not executed well, it might appear gimmicky
It would be interesting to hear from you on your views about these units ... sure there are loads of better examples out there. Will they only create a disruption in the short run for early adopters? OR can they become innovative units that add significant value to the retail rollout plan for a brand.

Contributed by Devatanu Banerjee, VP - Retail & New Media at DY Works.

  1. Growth of Modern Trade in India
  2. Black Label
  3. Loreal
  4. Tata Tea – Tea Veda
  5. Point of Purchase Magazine


SME Corporate Identity - Lifting the brand SSA to a new level


SSA Business Solutions, erstwhile Six Sigma Alchemy established in 1999 is an Indian Management consulting brand with global aspirations.

With alliances all over the world, the brand partners with its clients offering solutions that translate to increase in top-line and bottom-line. SSA Business Solutions was looking to morph from a small Indian business to a competent global player

Identity and brand rejuvenation

DY Works started this identity rejuvenation exercise with identifying the business values. This was followed by extensive understanding of the industry and the assets of the current identity.

Definition of the brand colour palette and house colours. The system and order of the visual device usage was created along with the guidelines as per application.

The new brand identity crafted by DY Works is modern, contemporary and has an international flavor.

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


The young and the ambitious

PIC: Images Bazaar
The popular perception is that younger bosses are more open to new ideas and relaxation of rules. "A lot of times there is a disconnect between employees and their managers because the managers are inevitably much more experienced and used to being in higher management positions. So in turn they lose touch with the employee culture. Younger bosses are much more attuned to their employees," says Nishrit Shrivastva, co-founder, Heaven & Home. Ishaan Sachdeva, director, Alberto Torresi agrees, "Younger bosses do have a tendency to make the work atmosphere more energetic. They tend to be more dynamic and ready to adapt new ideas and ways of workings. If we look at statistics, a majority of employees today comprise of youth. In such a scenario, younger bosses prove to be more approachable and communicative. They are more likely to adopt the philosophy of 'work hard, party harder.' Young bosses are more ready to take risks and be rule benders. They are relatively easy-going with concepts like time flexibility, informality and professional interactivity."

A ‘Fun' Workplace

So what exactly qualifies a ‘fun' workplace? "A healthy work environment is what qualifies as a fun workplace; if an employee is given such an environment then the employee works more efficiently and hence gives out a better performance/outcome. HR plays an important role in making the workplace fun and are the ones who formulate the rules and regulations, so making them a little relaxed without building pressure on anyone is what HR should do to employ this concept," believes Aayushi Kishore, director, Globalite Industries. A ‘Fun' workplace in our view is an extension of home – where employees seamlessly transition from home to work and vice-versa. Colleagues become friends and the workplace becomes a place to ideate and innovate. Flexibility and empowerment is the key essence of such a workplace, and it is extremely important for HR to understand and align itself to foster such culture," adds Sameer Maheshwari, joint MD, healthkart.com. Dr. T.K. Mandal, vice president, JK Paper says, "We find our young managers throwing challenging tasks to their team members, rotating their responsibilities frequently, breaking rules to provide support to them, bring in cheers through engagement activities/events. These actions create an enabling environment for new innovative ideas. This is what we consider a ‘fun' workplace where employees find the work enjoyable and challenging."

Age No Bar

The key to keep employees happy may lie in preserving a young mindset even as one advances in age and experience. "We feel that it is not the age but the relationship which bosses share with their employees that makes a workplace enjoyable. May be younger bosses are able to relate closely to the needs of the employees and foster a culture which allows flexibility and innovative thinking. At HealthKart, we don't micromanage and each employee is empowered to exceed in their roles," Maheshwari opines. "Young is a mindset. You can be on the wrong (very wrong) side of 40 and work happily in a hierarchy free, first name culture; you can create a 'fun' and participatory work place and you can share credit," agrees Alpana Parida, President, DY Works. DY Works offers yoga at the workplace and reflexology foot massages, along with a Foot Ball Table, a punching bag and an impromptu band. Kavindra Mishra, founder-member and VP Sales, Zovi.com echoes the same sentiments, "More than the age it is the mindset of the boss that determines the ‘fun' quotient of a workplace. Personally, I have seen bosses where there is lot of age difference but they make the work fun and vice-versa I've also encountered relatively young bosses who have been very insecure."

Thus, while younger leadership may have an edge when it comes to adding a bit of colour to work life, there's no reason why older bosses cannot adopt the same mindset as well!

- Ankita Shreeram

Read the original article from ItsMyAccent.


Sustainability & INDIA INC

Publication: The Economic Times Mumbai; Date: Apr 25, 2012; Section: Business Of Brands; Page: 4

HUL Bets on Innovations to Reach Sustainable Goal Unilever can achieve some of its audacious sustainability targets only if it relies more on product innovation & research, and perhaps less on the mercurial ways of consumers NAREN KARUNAKARAN NEW DELH

The dry shampoo that Unilever, the € 46 billion FMCG giant, is currently introducing in various markets is a significant step in the company’s commitment to halve the water associated with the consumer use of its products by 2020. It also drives home another critical aspect in its sustainability agenda: that it can achieve some of its audacious targets only if it relies more on product innovation and research, and perhaps less on the mercurial ways of unpredictable consumers.

So, giving consumers a dry shampoo that doesn’t need water is a far easier way of reducing water consumption in the bathroom than pleading with them to use less water. The dry shampoo is spray on, absorbs oil from hair, and also lends volume.

Nitin Paranjpe, CEO and MD of Hindustan Unilever, unveiling the first year’s progress on the Unilever sustainable living plan (USLP) on Tuesday, as part of a simultaneous global release, admits reducing greenhouse gases, water and waste associated with the consumer use of its products has been rather challenging. It’s a matter of concern and may jeopardise the ambitious sustainability goals the company has set for itself (see table).

Unilever has not only committed to reduce emissions from its manufacturing plants, but has taken upon itself the responsibility of the entire value chain, from suppliers, distributors to its consumers. Around 68% of the company’s carbon emission is directly related to consumer use, while the manufacturing process contributes only 3%.

The company has progressed well in what it controls directly: sustainable sourcing, improving livelihoods of farmers, converting used plastic sachets waste to fuel, through a ‘breakthrough’ pyrolysis process.

Its sourcing record, barring sunflower oil, is commendable. “We may meet 100% sustainable sourcing of palm oil by 2012, three years before our 2015 commitment,” Paranjpe told ET. Today, it’s around 64%. Unilever is now working on a traceability plan to make the process more robust and credible. Under the circumstances, the success of the USLP hinges on the responsible conduct of its consumers, which is a daunting proposition. Therefore, the focus on the innovation bit of the strategy where consumers turn responsible by default. For example, the Comfort One Rinse introduced in Vietnam that reduces the use of water from three buckets to one; a leave-on hair conditioner that doesn’t need to be washed away; detergents that clean at room temperatures, doing away with the need for hot water at 70 degree Celsius in washing machines.

Unilever has great expectations from the dry shampoo. “It’s an incredible consumer proposition,” says Paranjpe. “A large number of women cannot wash hair every day because it’s not convenient.” He, however, refuses to discuss pricing or its launch in India.

“We need more, we need innovations,” he asserts. “The entire issue of consumers is not only about behaviour change; much of the challenges can be addressed through new products.” This is in line with the proposition made recently by John Elkington, the sustainability guru, that good choices by consumers ought to be default choices. Over two billion consumers use a Unilever product every day.

But there is only so much an inhouse R&D infrastructure can do in terms of product innovation. Moreover, the progress would be slow if only in-house expertise was tapped.

Unilever, therefore, last month, unveiled its online open innovation initiative. Open innovation involves negotiating and integrating externally developed intellectual property into a business, and opening company R&D labs to outside individuals or institutions for collaborative work. “The world is full of brilliant people with brilliant ideas, and we want to tap into that,” says Roger Leech, Unilever’s open innovation scouting director. Within a couple of weeks of launch, the platform has received over a 100 credible submissions from across the globe, and surprisingly about 5% are from its staff.

Unilever, as in the USLP, has put out a list of clear ‘wants’, all focused on sustainability—fighting viruses, reduction of salt in food products, preserving food naturally, storing renewable energy, sustainable showering, and of course, ways and means of altering consumer behaviour.

This new-found emphasis on product innovation doesn’t mean Unilever is giving up on influencing consumer behaviour, which revolves around how a message is communicated to them. HUL has garnered immense learnings from its years of experience in conducting the Lifebuoy handwashing programme.

For example, consumers have to be exposed at least three times in a period through television, movies, mobile vans, or whatever. It has to be then followed with a onetremely challenging is weaning consumers from high-salt food products. Unilever has been gradually reducing salt levels in its products without changing its taste, but this approach has limits. The 2011 USLP progress report highlights it: “The gradual reduction (of salt) over time is only really effective if the whole industry moves together. If it does not, people will desert our products for more highly salted ones.” on-one interaction where the efficacy of hand-washing is demonstrated. Only then is change seen. It’s bearing fruit. The Madhya Pradesh government, impressed by the fact that the incidence of diarrhoea has dipped by 25% in a recent study, now wants to implement this across five districts in 5,000 schools. “It’s cheaper than other government interventions,” says Paranjpe.



Wikipedia puts Upcycling as "the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value." For us who deal with the branding and packaging industry this concept assumes greater significance.

In my mind, the pivotal thought here is not reuse, but conversion of the waste to a higher order utility. Here is a brilliant case of a discarded cycle being used as a gate. Brilliantly done.

Internationally, a company called Terracycle has been doing brilliant work in this space, tying up with many an FMCG major. Sharing an examples that I really liked.

Our friends at Busride had chanced upon similar ideas for a retail installation.

Upcycling is definitely a way in which brand owners can not only showcase their responsibility towards the environment, but also create very interesting engagement devices. The entire thought of generate value from waste can actually be put into practice with a little thinking and courage from brand owners.

Many of our designers and you out there are surely Upcyclers. Hoping to see you responding with your own Upcycling examples.

Devatanu Banerjee
Contributed by
Devatanu Banerjee
VP - Retail, IT & New Media
DY Works



Bindu. One could argue that an article, especially one on semiotics, should probably not begin with a dot. However the 'bindu' is no full stop. Yes! It is simple but it is profound. It is as superficial as an embellishment but also as inherent as the soul. It is self contained, yet diverse. It is exactly why I thought the analysis of this mark, taken so for granted in a country inundated with culture, would make for an interesting ‘point’on semiotics as well as a fascinating analogy with brands.

In India the bindu is omnipresent - whether it be a chandra bindu in the devnagari script or a tikka on the forehead. Something as simple as a dot takes different meanings with its multiple shapes, sizes and colors. For instance, in an Indian soap opera the slightest variation of the bindu defines the deadliness of the vamp. It subliminally changes people’s perceptions of good and bad. So in the context of brands, could one say that what the bindu does to the woman is what a logo does to a brand? The answer is yes, if you look at it as superficially as an embellishment. The answer has more layers as one explores the different layers associated with this deep-rooted symbol.

My first realization of the 'essence' of the Bindu was as a painting by French based, Indian painter, S.H.Raza titled 'Ma Laut Ke Aunga Toh Kya Launga' (Mother when I return, what should I bring you?). As an audience of age 8, what appeared as a black circle, evolved (with what I'd like to believe was my evolved sensibility) to take multitude forms. It formed a whole. A solid black circle encompassed half the canvas. Was it the womb of a pregnant woman? Or was it the symbol of the Bindu that one immediately associated with a quintessential Indian Mother? It was the containment of energy, the central point of emergence and a unit that preceded life. Raza himself calls the Bindu the 'seed' bearing the potential of all life. He says 'Bindu Ki Anant Sambhavnaye' (The multiple forms of the Bindu). It is through the eyes of a painter that I noticed the multiple dimensions of the Bindu.

It was the mere influence of the Bindu that gave the heavily French influenced painter an Indian soul. It gave the Indian audience a reason to believe in him and created an immediate emotional connect. Beyond the top layer of the painting, I began to see what Anjolie Ela Menon calls 'Pentimento', and M.F. Husain called 'birthmarks' - the lines still visible under the top layer of paint. It is what is visible but still absent. It contributes to the end product but deliberately takes a back seat. What earlier the layman would call marks that the artist forgot to cover up actually form the complete picture -a picture that fetches millions of dollars today.

So before I digress from semiotics- into my evident passion for art, you may ask what has the bindu to do with brands? At DY Works it all came back 'full circle' - pun intended! I realized its how we look at brands. It’s a simple way to build and envisage million dollar brands. What we call the brand seed gives the brand an essence; just like the bindu does to the various canvases, foreheads and scripts it prevails in. It can change the origin story of a painter, it can change the perception from positive to negative and vice versa, it can even change the way you pronounce a word in various languages.

And what is the reference to pentimento to do with all this? Semiotics is our pentimento at DY Works. It forms an integral part of the process, explicit enough to be noticed but subtle enough to take the back seat. It is what differentiates one from the other, it is the inherent core that builds the brand and lends immense character. It is not just about glossy color palettes, fancy fonts and what the layman would assume is a brand - the logo. It adds layers to the brand, making it identifiable, acceptable and rooted within cultures.

In Hinduism, the bindu is believed to be the point where energy exits the body. It contains and preserves this energy. It provides focus, aids concentration and balances temperament. Similar to the shape of zero, the original form of the bindu is an underrated geometric shape that provides a 360-degree view as a third eye. It is grossly underrated but very easily adds value. Can a brand do that? In my opinion it should. And for those semiotic geeks who have not had enough – I will try and be 'semiotically correct' by tying the close of the article with the beginning. With a 'Bindu'.

Contributed by
Udit Bhambri
AGM - Marketing
DY Works


Bai in Christian Louboutin

Semiotics? When I first heard this word in my work place, my initial reaction was ‘what in heaven’s name is this?’  And later as Santosh Desai put it – if you are feeling very good about yourself on any given day, just do a online search on semiotics; try reading it and everything else will go south for you thereafter.

But curiosity got better of me and I said to myself, what the heck? Let’s find out found what this thing called semiotics is all about.

Started reading some things online, got a graphic guide (yes, a graphic guide with the least appealing illustrations) to semiotics…and voila! my rather simple brain realized that semiotics is in what we do everyday.

We are all instinctive beings. Some more than some others. If we were to just pay more attention and be practical while understanding them (do not read more into it than it needs to be), we get to learn and understand people and situations better all over the world. I do not think then the region, culture, gender, age, socio-economic background etc. matter.

Let’s take a look at the life of a woman in Mumbaijhopad-pattis through the semiotics lens. She, more often than not works as a housemaid, with the husband being the chief wage earner or a drunk and an abuser. Whatever the scenario, she very rarely gives up her husband. He could even have a mistress, but no ‘mera pati sirf mera hain’ is always her bol.

Her will power to live life with renewed energy day after day is amazing. She will do all that she can do get her children and herself dressed in finery on all festive occasions, buy gold on Diwali, get her home white-washed. She is also the one who will use Dove soap, Fair & Lovely fairness cream, Ponds talc, bright and shining green coloured glass bangles, a shining mangalsutra and flowers in hair. This is her way of telling herself and her world that she is in charge of her life.

Her aspirational sense is no different than the woman who will wear a Christian Louboutin shoes.

And cheers to that!

Contributed by
Suma Joshi
Head - Creative Services
DY Works


DY Works Press: Women & Brands

DY Works Press: Women & Brands

Alpana Parida, President of DY Works is featured in MXM, March 2012.


Coming to the most important questions of them all, what the brands need to do for women to purchase their brands or influence their husband to do so? Explains Alpana Parida, President, DY Works, Mumbai “The first thing to keep in mind is to stop talking down to them. Brands see women as caricatures of themselves as the woman who waits for her husband’s smile or for children to say she is the best. No doubt these are important payoffs in a woman’s life – but brands tend to make simplistic associations. To truly earn their loyalty and advocacy – brands need to understand the women more deeply. Understand their layered dreams and unfulfilled desires, help her achieve than become her savior. For instance, Maggi allows her to add her own creativity and thus, nutrition to the basic noodles rather than wait for the beaming smiles of her kids.

Adds Madhuri Sapru, “Other than for women’s personal products, marketers have barely started “marketing” (and I don’t mean just a media plan skewed towards day time audiences) to women. We do not have any media isolation opportunities created as yet, and hence it is difficult for marketers to communicate to them in isolation.” Brands indeed acknowledge the value of engaging female consumers – increase in their purchasing and decision-making powers has not gone unnoticed. Last five years have seen a huge increase in product categories and brands (beyond FMCG) specifically targeting women – including computers, mobile phones and financial products.