Monday, August 31, 2020

VGC Crafted a New Mark for India's No.1 Linen Brand


Linen Club, India’s linen pioneers have been around for more than 60 years. With a rise in competition & an influx of look-alike blended linen brands in recent times, they needed to differentiate themselves through a renewed brand expression and reclaim their leadership position.

 

Being brought on board as their Brand Strategy and Design Agency, we needed to extend their new positioning, ‘Passionate about Linen’ across the brand’s visual expressions. Our tasks included the Identity design for the entire brand portfolio, their brand architecture, retail extensions, and packaging which also covered respective product architectures.



DIVING IN

We started by understanding the consumer groups and their relation with Linen. At the top of the pyramid were absolute Linen lovers, these were successful and passionate individuals who valued authenticity and appreciated pure linen. Next were the Linen aspirers, who as the name explains, used linen occasionally to stand out make an impression. The last consumer group covered the non-believers, who were driven away due to the perception and functional barriers of the fabric.

 

We also met with key stakeholders and learnt about the rich origins of Linen and their vision for the brand. Our in-depth research helped identify perception markers for the category and the brand, as well as highlighting that Linen Club, with its expert credentials, history, and wide product offering had the perfect mix to reclaim its leadership position.



WEAVING OUR WAY THROUGH THE STRATEGY

The objective of the exercise apart from building brand preference within the category was also to broaden the base to recruit new users into the brand. Hence, the brand strategy aimed to help the brand make a switch from owning linen as a product to owning linen as a mindset, broadening its spectrum of offerings. Our recommendations also included consolidating these offerings under a Hybrid brand architecture, allowing efforts to be focused on growing the parent brand - Linen Club.


INSPIRED BY ORIGIN & LEGACY

The need of the hour was to gear the visual and experiential expression of the brand to a larger and younger audience, whilst retaining the heritage of this legacy brand. For the new mark, we took inspiration from the pioneering legacy of Linen Club, the fabrics’ European lineage, natural origins, and limitless style statements. The codes of authority and heritage take form though the shield, while the flax stalk and flower represent the flax fields of Europe, embodying the story of its origin. 





The logo is visualised in a colour and form that is elegant and contemporary, with the promise of an enduring classic. Much like the brand and Linen itself. 


PACKAGING FOR THE ENTIRE PORTFOLIO

Developing the packaging was a crucial aspect of this landmark project. A deeper look at the brand’s offering revealed its scale and width. The brand architecture exercise laid the foundation for the packaging as the portfolio had now been simplified. The initial ask included identity extensions on the packaging across the fabric and apparel business; we used this as an opportunity to upfront the breadth of the portfolio while also breaking away from category associations like limited colour palettes. 







GEARING UP THE BRAND FOR ITS READY-TO-WEAR OFFERING

With ready-to-wear becoming a strong part of fashion and retail, it was crucial for Linen Club to create a meaningful extension into the apparel segment. VGC made recommendations to simplify their apparel range offerings and also designed an impactful identity for Linen Club Studio and Cavallo Studio.



The brand design universe created by VGC embraced the entire retail ecosystem, offering a rich and unified experience for Linen Club, to live up to its brand promise of “Passionate as you are”.

AGILITY HELPED US PIVOT THROUGH COVID-19 AND THE LOCKDOWN

For VGC, this project was truly a memorable one; not just because we love the brand and the fabric but also because the project was executed through the peak of the lockdown. The lock-down and remote working threw up a variety of new hurdles around sourcing, production, packaging, design and digital approvals, however, we have still been able to push forward and successfully launch the project.

 

“As we prepare ourselves for the future, we want the Linen Club brand identity to manifest our passion for linen combined with our heritage, our expertise, and our authenticity. The new identity while staying true to the core values of Linen Club, gives it credible and inspiring imagery," 

Satyaki Ghosh, CEO, Domestic Textiles (Grasim Industries) Aditya Birla Group.

 

"As I am personally passionate about Linen, it was an absolute delight when VGC was invited to rebrand Linen Club. Through the new logo, we have brought alive the story of Linen's European heritage, the legacy of the brand in India, and the fabric's authenticity in terms of its sustainable qualities. We then also translated it to a stylish visual narrative across a range of packaging and varied retail touchpoints," 

Preeti Vyas, Chairwoman and CCOVGC 






 

Monday, July 27, 2020

The New Real, in Real Estate


      

The present situation is a perfect storm for the application of creativity. If necessity begets invention, we as designers and other top creative agencies can’t have a more important and urgent occasion to innovate and apply design thinking to meet the needs of this massive shift in lives and lifestyles.

Covid-19 has changed the world permanently. People are living differently, buying differently, and in many ways, thinking differently. And in this context, the meaning of a home has truly surpassed the previously understood impressive structures that came with a laundry list of amenities.

A Sanctuary for Well-being
A home today is much more than a place of rest, it has become a sanctuary for our wellbeing; and in the current crisis has highlighted the need for shelter and protection more than ever before. With organizations being forced to transition to WFH, the last four months have seen homes transition to become enablers of multiple roles; where home meets boardroom meets the classroom meets happy hour.

Gearing up for the New Normal

Amidst the staged lift of the lockdown in different states, developers are gearing up their (re)entry into this new phase of life and work. Like all crises, COVID too has given way, to many unconceived opportunities, and real estate as a sector is setting the stage to embrace the new normal. Many of the most reputed names are using this time to consolidate their offerings with disruptive innovations.




We at VGC, have had a chance to work with some of the most reputed names through this phase and would like to share our learnings of some of the leading trends reshaping the residential space.  

                                                          1. OWNING VERSUS RENTING: 
Owing to the current pandemic, many professionals are thinking about owning a home rather than renting a residence. Interestingly, this is now also being considered by a large proportion of millennials, much earlier in their life. Markets have witnessed surged demand for RTMI homes, given the limitations of a rented accommodation to equip it to be future-ready. From an investment point of view, undoubtedly a physical asset renders the highest sense of security especially during exigencies such as Covid-19, as opposed to dwindling stock and financial markets.

2. FORM OVER FUNCTION:
With homes becoming the epicenter for every aspect of life, designers and architects around the globe are seen wearing a people-centric design-thinking hat. Going beyond the conventional molds, making every square foot work harder are the need of the hour. Effective zoning of the new multiuse homes, as well as using different materials and surfaces with higher anti-microbial properties, all have become crucial considerations for any spatial design work.


       3. WELL SPACED NEIGHBOURHOODS:
While families living in large gated complexes appreciate the ease and availability of essential services with-in the ecosystem; overused amenities and crowded common areas are driving many to reconsider their options.









  
                                                                     
4. FORCED TO LEAN ON TECHNOLOGY:
Welcome to the age of Jetsons. Smart locks, wearable biometrics and voice sensors are likely to help homeowners minimize contact with surfaces. Also, robots are likely to coexist and compete with the housekeeping staff to reduce human interaction. Taking cues from this growing demand of tech-enabled living, many developers are seen garnering AI and digitally-enabled infrastructure to sharpen their offerings.




      5. HIGHER APPRECIATION FOR SUSTAINABLE AND ECO-FRIENDLY PRACTICES:
Environmental awareness and social consciousness have dawned strongly in the minds of consumers. As a result, sustainability has become crucial, as they decide which developers they want to consider and the properties they want to invest in. 
     
6. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK:      
Nature has emerged as a vital element that people desire in their immediate surroundings. Well ventilated spaces, surrounding landscapes are all a part of a new higher order of living. The untapped potential of indoor gardening is likely to play out too, serving not just as a stress buster but also as a means to healthy living.

7. BRANDS OVER SMALLER BUILDERS: 

As the economy grapples with the slowdown followed by the lockdown, and jobs are in question; people are seen largely favoring risk-free investments. As a result, the market is seeing heavy consolidation, and developers will have to re-engineer themselves to re-position their brand strongly in this environment. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Design, Communication Trends in the Alcobev Industry




Addressing the elephant in the room – India is a dark market where alcohol brands have had to hide behind surrogates such as music, waters, and sodas for years in order to reach out to the audience. However, the tide is slowly changing.

Gone are the days where alcohol is associated with dingy-looking liquor stores adorned by dusty bottles or with men in ganjees seeking desi daaru and sale through store shutter windows late into the nights.

Today, as the taboo around alcohol starts to wear off, in new-age urban India the alcohol industry is also starting to shift dramatically at a fast pace. Drinking culture is becoming normalised and in fact flourishing; giving rise to brands innovating, finding newer ways to market themselves and actively engaging with their audiences.

Vyas Giannetti Creative is an advertising agency in IndiaOver the years, we have worked with a number of brands in this industry, to help them address various problems their brands have faced. From repositioning and branding exercises to marketing and communication, being one of the top advertising agencies in Mumbai, Vyas Giannetti Creative (VGC) has been able to help these brands across the board.

There are a number of emerging trends in design and communication for the alcobev industry and we’d like to demonstrate some of these through two of our projects -  

1. Foster’s, one of the world’s leading beer brands, had trouble connecting with their audience when they launched in India. VGC helped position them for the local context and rolled out a holistic communication strategy, right from brand activation to product advertisements and much more.

2. TJ’s BrewWorks is a brand with a national ambition that opened its first microbrewery in Pune. With microbreweries being a relatively new concept in India, we needed to find a way to educate the audience about the concept of homebrewed beers to differentiate it from the standard beer. To do so, we strategically branded the company, created an environment and various elements within it that showcased the different types of beer on offer, developed communication and a whole lot more.



Now, let’s take a look at some of these trends we spoke about earlier. 




The Chillheads - depicting different ways to chill




Innovative Packaging:
When it comes to beer, most beer drinkers prefer a nice, cold one. Warm beer is despised by beer aficionados, the world over. But, how does one tell if your beer is cold enough to drink. 10 minutes in the refrigerator? 20 perhaps? There’s isn’t really a science or guide to getting this bit right.

When Warm



To fix this, VGC had designed thermo-sensitive packaging a beer brand. The packaging would reveal a hidden element (like a mountain or the degree symbol, as depicted in the visual) when at or under the preferred temperature for consumption (anywhere between 4 to 7 degrees Celsius for a typical lager) and this element would disappear, when it was warm. This way, even before picking up a bottle or pulling it out of your fridge, you’d know that your beer was cold and ready to consume.

   When Cold

Immersive Experiences:
Today’s consumer prefers experiences over products (oh, that typical millennial mindset!). They are interested in engaging with their environment rather than just sitting around and having a drink. They like to get into the thick of things. So, when we set out to design the brewery, we wanted to create an experience that was definitely out of the ordinary, by making the whole place conversational and engaging the audience across all touch points.








Beer Mood Swatch












Revolving Beer Menu – For those that can’t make up their mind 














Conversational Table Mats



Our intent was to establish the brewery as a place that not only brewed beer but also brewed conversations, art, music, news and much more. So, from interactive table mats and coasters, where consumers could fill in answers to certain questions and win a ‘six-pack’ to a blackboard where people could draw or write about what was brewing in their lives, the whole space was designed to interact with the consumer. We even created a beer mood swatch so that consumers could pick a beer based on their mood. Even the menu was playful and interactive. All of this really helped bring alive the place and made it the preferred destination to get a brew. 






The beer lounge model at an airport








The beer lounge adapted for a pub








We were also tasked with creating immersive beer lounges, which were aligned with the parent brand’s positioning; these would offer a customer maximum control over the brand experience while delighting their five senses and also help in driving in traffic. The beer lounges were designed to have chill pits, a bar area and a lounge area for people to relax and move around in. Created for people to actually chill in while getting some of their favourite beer, this model could also be replicated in public spaces and pubs all across the country, from airports to malls and more.


Engaging the audience:
As the mindset of the audience shifts and brands become more inclusive towards them (especially women, who make up a large share of their customer base), it is becoming increasingly important for alcohol brands to actively engage with their diverse target group across various touch points.

A universally simple way to do this is to use elements of humour in your communication. This can be across mainline communication, or in our (India’s case) across customer experience points.



Fun ‘O Clocks






Standees, Banners and Collaterals to bring alive the brand’s positioning








  





Funny quips under bottle caps 








Cheeky lines, punchy captions and engaging visuals are the norm. It helps make the brand more relatable and inclusive. Also, adding an element of fun, helps the brand stay buzzy and entertaining for the end consumer. From pubs to breweries and from experience design to ATL (restricted) communication we have used elements of fun across various places, to playfully engage & captivate our audience.


Compelling Associations:
Earlier, alcohol brands used to settle for being passive sponsors with their logos strewn all over a baseball field or cricket stadium. Today, a lot of brands are developing properties of their own, engaging with new audiences and chartering new paths for customer engagement. Associating alcohol with music however, is a no-brainer.

 



Invites and Communication for the stand-up event with Vir Das






Coasters with different messages that you could share with a friend or pass to a stranger to begin a conversation with








For one of our clients, we helped curate and create a unique (at the time) platform to associate the brand with – stand-up comedy. Back when stand-up comedy was at its nascent stage in India, we celebrated comedy through LOL evenings – a series of shows anchored by Vir Das, in pubs and bars across the country. This helped us establish the brand as an innovator that was doing something different.


Bringing the brand alive online:
The internet and social media are the perfect place to bring your brand alive. Especially in India, where brands are restricted in terms of mainline communication, the online channels have fewer restrictions, allowing brands to engage directly with their audiences. 






















Giving people the opportunity to share a talk about their favourite brew 



















A whole lot of merchandise and gear that could be won or purchased

























The Result – A huge number of fans in an extremely short span of time.

For clients in the restricted space, the key is to make the communication engaging, impactful and fun. In fact, we did this at a time where social media marketing was still relatively new to India. From gifting & promoting merchandise to badges, exclusive content, contests and other engagements, the campaigns we created and executed, helped boost engagement and awareness of these brands. 

As audiences become younger and as the media by which we engage with them becomes even more diverse, it is important for brands in the alcobev industry to find newer, innovative ways to engage with them, is our belief as an advertising agency in India.

From using cutting-edge technology, to crafting immersive experiences and engaging with talented creative agencies, brands are doing everything they can to stay ahead of the competition.

So, how can you increase your brand’s edge?

Well, watch this space or log on to our website – www.vgc.in for help with your brand or to just watch out for more emerging trends and techniques to tackle the ever-evolving alcohol market. We are one of the top advertising agencies in Mumbai.
-       
Article as featured in Ambrosia India (The Magazine for the Alcobev Industry)


Thursday, September 19, 2019

THE FUTURE OF BRANDS IN A WOKE WORLD



By Tanvi Shah

Woke

A wonderful term originating from a political African-American movement, refers to an awareness and alertness of social injustices. Popularised by social media in the recent times, the term now encompasses a state of being awakened, being conscious.

Our current socio-political environment coupled with ease of communication has led to a worldwide shift towards people expecting not just communities and governments but also large corporations to take a more active role towards environmental and social issues pertaining to them. For brands, this means aligning the brands’ values to those of the consumers’. Because, a 2018 Edelman (a Brand Strategy Consultancy) survey found that 69% of millennials worldwide are belief-driven buyers. Even though first world countries are leading this wave, it is still significant for India.

Enter the concept of ‘woke brands’.

Brands are increasingly tapping into consumer-held social values to build resonance with consumers and make way into their repertoires. We are seeing a rise of woke branding across categories positioning themselves as ‘woke’ through their stance on social issues, environmental responsibility and sustainable practices.

But it’s not always that simple. Cultures are seeing more extreme divisions today within the socio-political context than ever before and offence taking is rampant. The rise of far-right leadership globally is being attributed to the voice of the mass majority whilst leftist ideologies seem to be concentrated towards the younger, urban elite. So where should brands stand? Does taking a stance on issues pertaining beyond your business put you in a position of risking alienation of a certain audience?


Last year, Nike was at the centre of this division of sentiment when it decided to sign Colin Kaepernick on as a brand ambassador, taking a direct shot at NFL and supporters of its response. However, contrary to predictions, the brand’s stock rose and hit a record high in the aftermath. Essentially, the ‘risk’ paid off.

When choosing sides, it has proven to be wiser for brands to lean towards liberal values simply because it is the side with higher spending capacity and social currency.



Ariel’s #sharetheload campaign about gender roles and Whisper’s #likeagirl are some of the many campaigns that were met with great praise for attempting to change the incumbent discourses in these categories. Tata Tea took it a step further with the Jaago Re campaign by extending it to an initiative that pushes the idea of pre-activism in the age of reactive internet activism.


The fashion industry which is quickly waking up to being seen as one of the biggest environmental villains is seeing an exponential rise of brands supporting organic textiles and reviving waning crafts. Even fast fashion retailer Asos has introduced a sustainability filter for the conscious consumer.

We, at VGC - the best branding agency in India, have had the opportunity to work with a truly ‘woke’ brand, 360Life. In the real estate industry, which suffers from a lack of brand purpose, 360Life breaks the clutter and makes a dent.



Stemming from a foundation of deep knowledge about Vedic practices, natural living, sustainability, and engineering, the intention of the brand is to lead the wave for holistic living. This is provided through curation of vertical forestry to promote living in harmony with nature, architectural planning to harness and optimise the flow of sunlight and wind, access to chemical free organic food, FMCG products and alkalinised water supply as well as employment of ancient Vedic rituals to energise and elevate the physical environment. 360 Life brings to life a proposition of ‘conscious living’.




However, brands need to tread carefully with their attempt to be seen as ‘woke’ as consumers are quick to call out brands seen as gimmicky.



Cadbury’s unity bar was met with mixed responses despite marrying product features with a neat intent. And then there are glaring oversights.



Pepsi was met with great criticism post its ad with Kendall Jenner breaking the tension between protestors and authorities by offering a Pepsi. The brand ultimately took down the ad within 24 hours and issued a public apology for its short-sightedness and commercialization of a serious movement.


Similarly, the successful Gully Boy received slack for trivialising and appropriating the ‘Azadi’ slogan from student protests in Delhi to create a pop culture anthem.



Essentially, ‘woke washing’ does not work. People see through the facade and today, it’s easier to mobilise public disdain than ever before. Between getting it right and trying but missing the mark is a brand’s appetite to take risks.
As the best branding agency in India, we believe authenticity has been a buzzword in the branding world for a few years. But its consideration becomes increasingly important with everyone jumping on the ‘woke branding’ wagon. Brands need to go back to their DNA. Instead of looking outward, it’s the time to look inward and be true to one’s own core. In times of high competition and dropping loyalties, brands need to be willing to take risks and mark allegiance with a value-driven consumer base.
Also, limiting one’s ‘wokeness’ to communication without consideration of actions across business operations is rather unauthentic and brands are liable to get exposed. It is important to walk the walk before you talk the talk. And so, the journey to becoming a woke business is inward really. Whilst most businesses are still on step 1, the future belongs to those who evolve from step 1 to 3.

  1. Take a stance through communication to make a deeper connection with the audience
  2. Integrate responsible actions across your business activities
  3. Develop businesses that stem from a conscious intent – actively play a role in addressing a social or environmental issue

And so, we, a Brand Strategy Consultancy, leave you with 3 questions:
  1. What are issues & social values that your consumers care about?
  2. What are core values that you stand for?
  3. How can you align yourself with your consumers’ values to form lasting relationships?