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Over the last one decade, I am seeing a gradual shift in how Indian companies are looking at branding. Earlier in India, branding was equivalent to creating a logo. In most cases, the only way of brand building was thought to be advertising. Now with increased competition in every sector and with every brand fighting for attention, Indian companies have started understanding the importance of brand building beyond advertising. Advertising may create campaigns that can run for at max 6 months, but core Branding services like ours, create assets that will be the face of the brand for at least 3-5 years if not more. said Saswata Das, Co-owner & Managing Director WOW Design.

Branding and advertising have sure taken diverse turns in today’s marketing scenario; everybody is looking for that perfect message that strikes a chord with their target audience. In an interaction with MediAvataar India, Saswata divulged the changing trends of the designing industry and what made them launch a Strategic Brand Design firm.
Here is the complete Q&A...

MediAvataar: What is your vision for WOW Design?
Saswata: To become the most sought after Strategic Brand Design firm. We would continuously strive to use Strategy and Design as tools to solve business problems and help them grow.

MediAvataar:  What do you consider has been your greatest achievement in your career so far?
Saswata: I have had a career with many twists and turns. Just as when I have become a little comfortable in a position, I have shifted tracks. So the year I got promoted as a Senior Software Engineer at Wipro technologies, I left the job to undertake my PG in Marketing Communications at MICA. Post MICA, the month I was being promoted to being AGM, Marketing at a Brand Consultancy, I quit the job to start off on my own, and that was less than 2 years of entering the Marketing field. Ever since, I believe, I have never entered a comfort zone. Entrepreneurship throws in new challenges every day and that’s what keeps me going. Being an entrepreneur at an age as early as 27(even though Zuckerberg became a billionaire at this age) and being able to successfully sustain it has been my biggest achievement so far. I always had a dream of being the source of livelihood of 35 households before I turn 35. Having fulfilled the dream much earlier gives an immense sense of satisfaction.

MediAvataar:  How would you describe the Indian branding landscape?
Saswata: With Modi’s Make In India initiatives, Indian Startups and SMEs are witnessing a sea change. It has brought to them huge opportunities to showcase themselves against their global counterparts. Now to do that in an utterly competitive space, branding plays an extremely pivotal role and that’s what is fueling the branding landscape in India now.
If we are going to “Make In India”, we would need to Brand what we make and that lays down a humongous opportunity in the branding space. If we put together a list of top 50 global brands, it’s unfortunate that we would have very minimal or next to no Indian brands in the list. However that situation is soon going to change. We do have home grown brands that are the best market leaders in their sector. eg. Café Coffee Day in Bangalore or Hi Design, the leather goods manufacturer.

MediAvataar: What differentiates your firm in its approach to its work?
Saswata: Whenever a new employee joins the team, I sit with him personally to take him through what Brand WOW Design stands for and how we live by our philosophy of “Thoughtfully Fresh” every single day. I believe it’s this philosophy of taking a Thoughtful approach to Design which makes us different. We are in love with human culture and delve into the ethnography to derive from customs, traditions, attitudes, behavior, etc. We love to spend time with the consumer and many a time do observational research rather than direct questioning.

MediAvataar: How do you stand out to win the pitch?
Saswata: I have always guided the team to go beyond the brief. Sometimes the brief may be stating a symptom as a problem and seeking a tactical solution, but when we read between the lines and see it in light of category and consumer research (an essential part of our approach), the real problem statement is identified. Our proprietary processes, based on strong Design Thinking principles, helps us redefine the problem statement and overall objective of the exercise, which eventually leads to more strategic and long term solutions. So essentially our strategy and design solutions are not necessarily what the client would like to hear, but definitely what the consumer would love to see and experience. So when we were pitched against all the biggies in the Ghadi Detergent Brand revamp pitch, what led us to win the pitch was not by telling them how drastically to change and modernize, but articulating how little to change, considering the economy market and rural consumer who were not ready to see her brand change overnight.

MediAvataar: What’s the secret to attracting the best talent and keeping clients happy while balancing the books?
Saswata: In today’s world, just doing good work doesn’t help, you need to be heard and seen doing it. We make sure we engage with our prospective talent on Social media. The fact that we do good work and more importantly the fun that we have doing it, is all out there. I make sure to personally visit my Alma mater, MICA and colleges like SIMC for guest lectures and recruitment process to keep the interactions on.

But the challenge is not only attracting the best talent, but to retain them once you get them on board. I believe in our kind of business. You don’t need a lot of people if you have a lot of talent. So instead of hiring too many, we hire less with outstanding talent and then take every possible step to retain them.
We have a wall at WOW Design, which defines our purpose of being here. It’s important for every employee to understand what is expected out of him, what are the goals and once he achieves it, getting acknowledged and appreciated for the same.
The group and team heads work almost as entrepreneurs, and have been given a free hand at many critical decision making stages. I think the mantra is simple- Create a culture where individuals and teams are recognized, engaged and they take pride in whatever they are doing. When this is achieved, we have the best talent working happily and passionately. This automatically takes care of the client’s happiness and eventually the Moolah!

MediAvataar: What’s one of the most a) gratifying and b) bizarre experiences so far?
Saswata: a. I think the most gratifying situation is when we have won the trust of the client so much so that they are ready to relook at their decisions based on our recommendations. Also we see the same when the client feels “These people know their field thoroughly and also understand my business, sometimes more than my internal stakeholders. My brand is in safe hands.” Without naming the client, I would like to sight an instance when the client had decided to launch a new product. With the current Brand Architecture, it would have just confused the consumers, leading to the risk of losing on to the loyalists. Our Strategic approach, involved redefining the Architecture, consolidating the number of brands. It not only helped them avoid losses but it led to a new product launch with confidence, which eventually became a grand success.

b. When we were told that we have lost the pitch and within a few months we see the client launching a brand with our design solution with the minutest of changes. We have learnt it probably the hard way to take IP rights of our own creation more seriously.

MediAvataar: How has the role of branding changed or evolved in India? How has this change affected the work?
Saswata: Over the last one decade, I am seeing a gradual shift in how Indian companies are looking at branding. Earlier in India, branding was equivalent to creating a logo. In most cases, the only way of brand building was thought to be advertising. Now with increased competition in every sector and with every brand fighting for attention, Indian companies have started understanding the importance of brand building beyond advertising.

Advertising may create campaigns that can run for at max 6 months, but core Branding services like ours, create assets that will be the face of the brand for at least 3-5 years if not more. So brand owners have started to realize the importance of specialized branding firms like WOW Design. Most of our clients like ITC, Heinz, Kellogg’s, etc. have an advertising agency on board. But when it comes to a new brand creation or a brand revamp, they look up to us for specialized solutions.

MediAvataar: Where do you see the future of creative marketing, and branding in India heading?
Saswata: Branding in India is still in its nascent stages, which means the opportunities are great and with the startup culture just about catching the heat, I believe sky is the limit.
With Indian brands becoming more and more ambitious, in partnership with firms like ours, they are now looking at branding as a long term strategic resource. They want to look at global trends and learn from them as fast as possible. However, India being utterly diverse is complex and poses different challenges which need to be solved with a thorough understanding of the Indian consumer behavior and culture.

MediAvataar: What global market trends over the last year, do you think will progress branding and advertising in India?
Saswata: The fact that Marketing is an intuitive science about what the consumer needs and wants, it has to constantly evolve to suit the changing sensibilities, attitudes and behavior of the consumer and his environment. By June 2016, we are going to have 462m consumers in India connected to the internet and we already have over a billion phones here, which clearly suggest that the digital consumer is no longer a rare species. Researching a product over the Internet has transformed from being a trend to being the norm. Digital launches are preceding mass media launches and hence the content will need to be molded accordingly. The youth has been consuming YouTube more than TV and the advent of Netflix in India which is an indicator of the shift. Technology is evolving faster than ever and Marketing will have to keep pace with it. Traditional marketing will have to give way to newer models. eg Traditional Market research will be replaced with more emotional response structures rather than rational ones.


Pune plays host to 1st Ameo roadshow

- Exclusive preview of Ameo at Volkswagen dealership

- Opportunity to Pre-book the Ameo

- Ameo roadshow to horde a 360-degree campaign through Print, Digital and Radio media

Volkswagen, Europe’s leading car manufacturer, commences the next phase of its pre-launch campaign for the made in India and made for India carline Volkswagen Ameo. The Ameo symbolizes the start of a new and mature phase of life, calling for a new way of thinking and is designed to meet the requirements of young & urban Indian customers.

Through this campaign Volkswagen invites prospective customers to touch and feel the first sub-4 meter sedan from Volkswagen and avail the opportunity to pre-book the car at their nearest Volkswagen dealership. Ameo roadshow will horde a 360-degree campaign through Print, Digital & Radio media and on-ground engagement.

As part customer engagement during roadshows, a series of 3 films will be played at all dealerships encapsulating the essence of Ameo’s first in class features - driver assistance system like cruise control, rain sensing wipers and reverse parking camera. The films appropriately underline Volkswagen’s understanding of the requirements of Indian consumers and are presented in a humorous yet compelling manner.

New York Festivals International Advertising Awards®  invites advertising creatives to judge the World’s Best Advertising® competition. Registration is now open for the third annual You...Be the Judge! contest. Entrants are invited take a virtual seat at the New York Festivals® Executive Jury table and match their skills against the 400 creative directors, executive creative directors, chief creative officers and worldwide chief creative officers who are judging the 2016 World’s Best Advertising® competition.

The 2016 You...Be the Judge! contest officially begins on Monday, May 9th at 9:30am US Eastern Time and ends on Monday, May 16th at 9:30am US ET. Contest award-winners will be selected based on the contestant’s selections that best match the scoring ranks of the 2016 Executive Jury.

In the case of a tie, the entrant who was the first to submit their rankings will be declared the winner. We will notify the winners by both email and telephone. A list of the top 25 scorers' first names and last initials will be available online at after 10:00pm ET on the 19th of May, 2016.

Award-winners will receive the following prizes:

First Prize: New iPad and four All-Access passes valued at $1400 to the 2016 New York Show℠ in NYC.

Second Prize: Two All-Access passes valued at $700 to the 2016 New York Show℠ in NYC.

Third Prize: One All-Access pass valued at $350 to the 2016 New York Show℠ in NYC.

There is no fee to enter the 2016 You…Be the Judge! contest,  To enter, register at www.newyorkfestivals.com/judge2016. You will then receive a confirmation email with a link to your personalized judging page. Please visit here  for more information and to view the complete rules and regulations visit here.

The 2016 New York Show℠ events will be on May 19th and feature four creative panel sessions, a cocktail reception, the awards ceremony, and an after-party. New York Festivals will welcome award winners, jury members and guests from around the globe to this day long series of events honoring the World’s Best Advertising®.To purchase tickets visit: Here

The four creative panel sessions will take place during the day at the NYIT Auditorium on Broadway, located at 1871 Broadway (btw 61st & 62nd St).

Later that evening, guests from around the world will then join us for our Gala event at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street, New York City, for a cocktail reception in the Ertegun Atrium, followed by the awards ceremony in Rose Theater. A celebratory after-party will be held at Parkview Lounge, on the 4th floor of Time Warner Center, to toast all the winners of the World’s Best Advertising.

New York Festivals offers students & teachers the opportunity to register for complimentary creative panel session tickets, to register please visit: Here.


Prashan Agarwal, an entrepreneur in the consumer internet space, has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer at Gaana, India’s largest online music streaming app. 

Before joining Times Internet, Agarwal had co-founded multiple internet ventures. Earlier, he was the Cofounder of PropTiger.com, India’s leading real estate transaction marketplace. He has an overall experience of 14 years and brings extensive experience on all aspects of consumer internet businesses and tangible business models. In the past, he has held senior leadership roles at Naukri.com, GE Infrastructure and Sapient.
An ISB and IIT alumnus, Agarwal is an expert in strategy, sales, operations and product management. He has been awarded the GE Infrastructure CIO Excellence Award for Outstanding Six Sigma Project and also won several laurels at leading school and colleges, he has attended.

Gautam Sinha, CEO Times Internet said, “I’m excited to welcome Prashan Agarwal as Chief Operating Officer, Gaana. I’m optimistic that with his entrepreneurial approach and strong consumer internet, business and product acumen, Gaana will further strengthen Gaana's position as the leading and most loved music streaming app.”

"I am looking forward to contributing & adding value to the team and making Gaana a household name and future of streaming music. “ said Prashan Agarwal, COO, Gaana.


An exclusive coffee table book “Festival of Advertising” to be released as a part of the celebrations

Ahmedabad Advertising Circle Association (AACA), a largest network of advertising agencies from Gujarat, will host a talk show with Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor, Zee News and launch its coffee table book called “Festival of Advertising” on 7th May, 2016 in Ahmadabad.

Last year, AACA had organized the ‘AACA Media Awards’ in 34 categories as part of a first-of-its-kind ‘Festival of Advertising’, commemorating the brightest creative work in the industry.

Sudhir Chaudhary is a first generation highly respected TV journalist and started his career in Zee, handling senior editorial positions. Be it the political battlefields of the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections or the heights of Kargil or the terrorist attack on Indian Parliament, he has covered every big story of Indian television news on spot.

AACA is credited to have put in place a LAN networking and a multiple user software called ‘AdCount’, which is comprehensive agency application integrated software that assesses business needs of the sector. It is made available to AACA member agencies as well as non-member advertising agencies to take advantage of, Adcount has many features which can be used during client briefs, business planning, client billing, estimate, release order, service tax, and Income tax and beyond.

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