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Tuesday, Jul 12, 2005

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Companies shape products, seek to win by design

Sravanthi Challapalli

Chennai , July 11

BANK of Baroda's resplendent new logo is making its presence felt widely — it's in the mehendi of a bride's palm and is even being called the Baroda Sun.

The bank is one of the many corporates in the recent past that have gone in for a new look.

Is this the result of a growing awareness of the benefits of good design?

Yes, say design firms. This is the clutter-busting way to build brand awareness.

Design contests and awards have added to this and so has fashion consciousness among men, with gadgets such as mobile phones doubling up as accessories, says Ms Falguni Gokhale, Director of the Pune-based Design Directions and co-founder of integrated branding services company Purple Stream.

Companies turn to design firms when they are launching a new brand or when their brands need a new look or structure depending on business considerations.

Some prominent companies and brands which have gone in for re-design in the recent past include Rasna, Kinetic, Mother Dairy and Hindustan Lever's Lux soap and Wheel detergent.

For the designers' part, they want clients to state clearly what their market offerings really mean for customers, in what way they are or can be unique, says Ms Gokhale.

Ms Meeta Malhotra, Director, Ray + Keshavan Design, Bangalore, says their practice as external consultants gives them insights into the pros and cons of the issue.

Says Mr Sudhir Sharma, Founder Director and Principal Designer of the Pune-based Elephant Design, which worked on Lux and Wheel, "Many times, when companies are cost-cutting, they sacrifice the basic needs of the customers. By being innovative and knowledgeable, design firms always make manufacturing, distribution and displays more efficient and effective. This adds to the bottomline."

Design isn't just skin-deep - giving a company a makeover calls for extensive interaction with its employees, consumers and products. And it's not something that can be left to ad agencies either, say the designers, stating that design needs a special set of skills.

Says Ms Gokhale, "Ad agencies create something topical, tactical.

Design firms shape products and packaging that lasts longer."

However, Indian design is still nascent but has picked up tremendously in the last five years.

In a growing trend, Indian firms are getting a lot of work from abroad, too.

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