AP Markfed

AP Markfed Logo

AP Markfed


A new image for an enterprise that strives to get farmers the right price.

As we sat at the drawing board to redesign AP Markfed’s logo – an Andhra Pradesh Government wing established in 1957 for farmer welfare – we had two things in mind: rooted and progressive. We turned the three pillars in our positioning into trusted paths (denoted by the three green stripes) leading to prosperity (denoted by the sunrays) and eventually victory (denoted by the crown on top). It communicates both process and purpose, in a very earthy, sublime and effective manner. The colors are in alignment with nature and the design is in alignment with the cause.

In awe of the revolutionary Sans Serif

In awe of the revolutionary Sans Serif

Lately, research in typography took an interesting turn. Many typographers and design researchers are in the race to test and find out the best typeface (between serif & sans serif) in terms of readability by using eye-tracking mechanisms. In some or the other way, most findings unanimously suggest that sans serif fonts triumph over the serif fonts. There could be many reasons for sans serif to stand out, but according to others these findings are facts that need not be stated.

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Industrialization, mass communication and increased business activities all over the world called for more appealing and less decorative fonts for commercial purposes. Because businesses were booming and serif fonts suddenly started appearing heavy and daunting, the advertising industry put sans serif fonts to good use. It slowly became an industry standard and a design norm to employ sans serif fonts in commercial communication. The huge billboards and posters that wooed consumers until recently, and even to this day, are composed of sans serif fonts that look light and compact. Today, even after the digital era took over almost everything, the norm continues. Though serif fonts are spotted sporadically in headlines, the subheads and body copy are predominantly composed with sans serif fonts. Considering these real world facts, it has been proved that sans serif is better and the best.

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However, as many would assume, sans serif as a typographic form is not new to the world. It is not just decades old but centuries older than we think. According to a recent finding, it is reported that the earliest sans serif font was found on a bronze medallion forged in 1446. Whereas, the first sans serif font was printed in 1815.

Helvetica, Futura, Public Sans, Open Sans and many other sans serif fonts are ruling the readable world today. Adapting to this evolution, global brands such as Google, Dolce & Gabbana, Balmain, Jeep, HSBC, Burberry, Yahoo and several others have revamped their logos from serif to sans serif fonts. This evolution is a collective effort of revolutionary designers and typographers who dared to make changes and drove the world forward.

(This article is in reverence to those skillful masters who could forge sans serif letters on tough metals centuries ago, and remained unidentified and unacknowledged)

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Do lesser known brands know more about branding?

Do lesser known brands know more about branding?

Probably, yes.
What’s a brand. According to David Aaker, a brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. But, not many think in these terms. How many global brands, that provide us with business cases to be studied and learnt, qualify to be brands as per this definition. Aaker may not hold the supreme power of branding and its study, but it is hard to dismiss his take. If we define a brand in these terms, it appears that several low-key and under-the-radar brands seem to know more about branding than the giants. See what some lesser known ten brands have to say about themselves:

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    • 10.Deep® is an independent, street fashion brand founded in 1995. Springing out of the mix of niche musical and visual subcultures that fueled the New York / Tokyo / London streetwear scene of the 1990s. 10.Deep® embodies the spirit of independence that has driven youth culture for decades. 10.Deep is you against the world.
    • “We (WTAPS) started around 92/93. There was something in society against the majority. The majority had the majority culture and the minority had of course the minority counterculture. We fell into the minority.”
    • Farfetch exists for the love of fashion. We believe in empowering individuality.
    • Since its inception, Post O’Alls’ style remain unchanged – authentic in details and construction, distinctive in eclectic mix of various styles and fabrics, some adjustment if desired, with original characters built-in – and always rooted in vintage work clothes and other functional garments such as military outfits and outdoor garments, which were all evolved from work wear platform.
    • The world has changed—the world of fashion has not. That’s why we started A Day’s March. […] A Day’s March makes clothes with long-lasting quality and design. Instead of following every fashion trend, we want to create clothes that last and that you’ll love to wear for years. This is good for the planet.
    • Horses Atelier was founded in 2012 by best friends and novelists, Dey and Sopinka, with the philosophy of making pieces based on the values they hold in everyday life: utility, beauty, wildness, and endurance. […] Horses Atelier believes in the local economy and in the rare skills and empowerment of those who make our garments.
    • Ffixxed Studios makes clothing and objects that respond, adapt to, and inspire changing conditions for contemporary living. The ready-to-wear label evolves seasonally alongside a variety of other projects and collaborations that inform the evolution of the brand. reflecting on the everyday, the collections respond to the construction of daily life, exploring notions of work and life in contemporary culture.
    • Icebreaker is about icebreaking. We explore the relationship between people and nature. It’s about kinship, not conquering. Nature is our hero. Driven by the belief that nature has the solutions, we provide natural performance alternatives to synthetic based apparel […].
    • Tender Co. has its roots in antique workwear and machinery, especially from the Great British Steam Age. […] Important face of Tender’s British-made clothing is the nurture which is put into the clothes: in their research, design, manufacture, and wear. Just as a gardener tends to a vegetable patch, or a shepherd is the tender to a flock of sheep.
    • On (-running) was born in the Swiss alps with one goal: to revolutionize the sensation of running. It’s all based on one radical idea. Soft landings followed by explosive take-offs. Or, as we call it, running on clouds.

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Skim through the underlined parts. It is amazing to see how each brand is founded on a story, a purpose, a memory, a way of setting expectations and a method of serving the need they care about. Knowingly or unknowingly these brands have been redefining branding. One of the recent issues on brand management principles holds that a brand has to aspire to grow and expand. But not all brands have big aspirations and it is not the aspiration of the brand that makes it what it is, but it is the aspiration of people they care about. Sooner or later, branding professionals have to start looking at the other side.

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The iconography of Olympics: A look back

The iconography of Olympics: A look back

For decades to come, Indians are going to remember the striking image of the athlete Neeraj Chopra clutching the javelin firmly and sprinting on the runway for his last throw that earned him a gold medal in Tokyo Olympics. For a moment, he looked like a fierce Greek statue that came to life. Talking of Olympics and the Greeks, it is fitting to go back in time to know the philosophy of the event, which originated on the land of the western thinkers. That very philosophy will give us the ticket for a quick ride to the icons used in the Olympics events.

What is it like to be an Olympic athlete? If your own country is not hosting the event, you will be invited to a foreign nation and you will undergo rigorous training to participate. At last, the moment arrives, your name is called, and you burst out into the arena, ready to face the challenge and be tested in front of everyone. This ancient event was a matter of great pride and prestige, but the legacy did not continue for long. In the ancient Greek society, shame and failure were ruthlessly brushed away. There were no consolations for losers or rewards for taking part. Despite the prevalence of such idealistic hypocrisy, what inspired athletes and sportspersons to test themselves against others? Greek philosophy says that the burning desire to transcend limits and transform into a champion is ingrained in human nature. This transcendence, as opined by Aristotle, comes with morals and ethics. It is well known that these ancient Greek ideals were what inspired the modern Olympics’ founder, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He is credited for reviving the Olympics in the late nineteenth century by gathering the world at a place and representing this unity through the famous logo with five rings. He modernized the ideals of Olympics by saying that ‘the important thing in life is not the triumph but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.’

Check this: Branding for Startups

By the mid-twentieth century, the event of such magnificence was partnered by curious design elements resulting in a visually appealing and comprehensible sign system called pictograms. They are popularly known as icons. The motive of this sign system is to communicate with the audience and participants without employing language. This easy-to-understand system took birth in the Tokyo Olympics, 1964. Later, Lance Wyman, the designer of 1968 Mexico Olympics gave it an artistic punch that remained in the history of the Olympics as one of the most influential design projects. In the Olympics that followed this design turn, pictograms have undergone several iterations inspired by geometric shapes, sports objects, cave paintings and human ergonomics. The most memorable and highly appreciated pictograms appeared in Munich 1968, Lillehammer 1994, Sydney 2000, Salt Lake 2002, Athens 2004 and London 2012.

After nearly six decades, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics took this practice to a higher plane with kinetic pictograms. Though this Olympics’ pictograms are said to be the modernization of those designed in 1964 by the same host city, the overall communication with the rest of the world surprised everyone by not reaching the roots of Japan’s heritage and culture, as in other iconic Olympic pictograms, but fusing manga and anime art practice. Until now, the history and heritage of a host nation, in the Olympics, have been showcased with reference to the ancient and medieval ancestral traces. Occasionally, a completely contemporary path was chosen. This may be the first time that a nation considered pop-culture as an integral part of its history.

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It may seem trivial at first to pay attention to the pictograms and the design techniques of a sports event, but if you reach back to the philosophy of Olympics, it adds up to the whole picture. The Olympics is not about inviting people from all over the world and hosting a majestic event, but about exchange and experiencing cultures. It is also about recognizing, acknowledging and respecting each other. You might have stumbled on the phrase global-village at first but convinced yourselves that it might as well be true because technology is connecting us. If it is true, why do we still feel strange when we are around a foreigner? There are people who seek answers to questions like, even after so many centuries, why couldn’t the human race develop a common language? Most of such questions are answered by pictograms. In terms of language, pictograms have grammar rules, syntax, semantics and history. Despite the availability of a host of media, pictograms are what came to realize the phrase global-village in the Olympics village.
Looking for Branding for Startups? Click here.

How Sexy can a Tea brand get?

The iconography of Olympics: A look back

For decades to come, Indians are going to remember the striking image of the athlete Neeraj Chopra clutching the javelin firmly and sprinting on the runway for his last throw that earned him a gold medal in Tokyo Olympics. For a moment, he looked like a fierce Greek statue that came to life. Talking of Olympics and the Greeks, it is fitting to go back in time to know the philosophy of the event, which originated on the land of the western thinkers. That very philosophy will give us the ticket for a quick ride to the icons used in the Olympics events.

What is it like to be an Olympic athlete? If your own country is not hosting the event, you will be invited to a foreign nation and you will undergo rigorous training to participate. At last, the moment arrives, your name is called, and you burst out into the arena, ready to face the challenge and be tested in front of everyone. This ancient event was a matter of great pride and prestige, but the legacy did not continue for long. In the ancient Greek society, shame and failure were ruthlessly brushed away. There were no consolations for losers or rewards for taking part. Despite the prevalence of such idealistic hypocrisy, what inspired athletes and sportspersons to test themselves against others? Greek philosophy says that the burning desire to transcend limits and transform into a champion is ingrained in human nature. This transcendence, as opined by Aristotle, comes with morals and ethics. It is well known that these ancient Greek ideals were what inspired the modern Olympics’ founder, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He is credited for reviving the Olympics in the late nineteenth century by gathering the world at a place and representing this unity through the famous logo with five rings. He modernized the ideals of Olympics by saying that ‘the important thing in life is not the triumph but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.’

Check this: Branding for Startups

By the mid-twentieth century, the event of such magnificence was partnered by curious design elements resulting in a visually appealing and comprehensible sign system called pictograms. They are popularly known as icons. The motive of this sign system is to communicate with the audience and participants without employing language. This easy-to-understand system took birth in the Tokyo Olympics, 1964. Later, Lance Wyman, the designer of 1968 Mexico Olympics gave it an artistic punch that remained in the history of the Olympics as one of the most influential design projects. In the Olympics that followed this design turn, pictograms have undergone several iterations inspired by geometric shapes, sports objects, cave paintings and human ergonomics. The most memorable and highly appreciated pictograms appeared in Munich 1968, Lillehammer 1994, Sydney 2000, Salt Lake 2002, Athens 2004 and London 2012.

After nearly six decades, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics took this practice to a higher plane with kinetic pictograms. Though this Olympics’ pictograms are said to be the modernization of those designed in 1964 by the same host city, the overall communication with the rest of the world surprised everyone by not reaching the roots of Japan’s heritage and culture, as in other iconic Olympic pictograms, but fusing manga and anime art practice. Until now, the history and heritage of a host nation, in the Olympics, have been showcased with reference to the ancient and medieval ancestral traces. Occasionally, a completely contemporary path was chosen. This may be the first time that a nation considered pop-culture as an integral part of its history.

You may also like: How Sexy can a Tea brand get?

It may seem trivial at first to pay attention to the pictograms and the design techniques of a sports event, but if you reach back to the philosophy of Olympics, it adds up to the whole picture. The Olympics is not about inviting people from all over the world and hosting a majestic event, but about exchange and experiencing cultures. It is also about recognizing, acknowledging and respecting each other. You might have stumbled on the phrase global-village at first but convinced yourselves that it might as well be true because technology is connecting us. If it is true, why do we still feel strange when we are around a foreigner? There are people who seek answers to questions like, even after so many centuries, why couldn’t the human race develop a common language? Most of such questions are answered by pictograms. In terms of language, pictograms have grammar rules, syntax, semantics and history. Despite the availability of a host of media, pictograms are what came to realize the phrase global-village in the Olympics village.
Looking for Branding for Startups? Click here.

Writing a touching letter to customers: A three-step guide

Writing a touching letter to customers: A three-step guide

2008 was an unforgettable year for the world. The financial crisis that began that year was so severe that it uprooted centuries old banks, shut down businesses, forced many people to live hand-to-mouth, and even to migrate to cheaper places. When the markets were falling apart during this economic upheaval, can you imagine the fate of a prosperous brand like Starbucks that was on a downward spiral simultaneously with the crisis? It is a brand that sells one of the most admired espressos in the west. It was also a brand that compromised on quality for business expansion during this period. By the time the company realized that they failed in delivering the promise to serve the best espresso, it was too late for them to orchestrate damage control. But, as the classic maxim goes – better late than never, one Tuesday afternoon in February that year, the company closed more than seven thousand stores indefinitely and put up a letter on the locked doors saying:

“We’re taking time to perfect our espresso.
Great espresso requires practice.
That’s why we’re dedicating ourselves to honing our craft.”

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Apart from the meticulously planned and well executed business revival strategy, what stood out for us is the bunch of words that the brand put up on the closed doors. Shortly, the brand could reclaim its customers and was lauded for making its coffee better. Being branding professionals at an elemental level, we sometimes wonder as to the stunning power of a small letter compared to an advert or a huge campaign. Emotional letters, notes and e-mails to customers simply amaze us sometimes.

Twelve years later.

2020 is a mightier nightmare than 2008. The entire world took a break in turns just to survive the COVID 19 pandemic. Business activity was restricted, brick and mortar stores were closed indefinitely, people stayed at home for months, goods production was halted and businesses ran out of money. Like any other brand, Entireworld (known for its sweatpants and loungewear) feared extinction. The CEO decided to send across a message to their customers about the uncertain situation. He wrote:

“Wow. I mean, WTF.
“Am I sick already? Can I leave my house?
What do I tell my employees?
Will my mom be OK on her flight home today? Can Zod” —
Sternberg’s dog — “get coronavirus?
Did I buy enough T.P.? How long will this last?
Who’s in charge? What’s next?”

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He went on writing an emotional letter. The email worked better than any advert. Reportedly, by the end of that month, Entireworld saw a record 662% rise in its sales and they ran out of sweatpants. The pandemic caused a problem to the brand that sells sweatpants, and the pandemic itself became a solution. The pandemic restricted people to home, which meant work-from-home, which inturn meant there is a need for more sweatpants.

That’s how an emotional letter conveys a message. So here are the steps to write such and such a letter/note/e-mail to your people:

Step 1: Get brutally honest.
Step 2: Make a note of what you want to tell your customers. Rewrite.
Step 3: Print/hit send.

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Sumedha Tech Services

Sumedha Tech Services (STS)


A humanistic
identity for an organization with a heart.

 
Sumedha Tech Services (STS) took up the job of disseminating knowledge to the community. For an organization like STS, the identity has to be in such a way that it should represent people. So we designed a composite logo composed of people. The logo is intentionally designed to look like the globe as the organization’s aim is to impart valuable knowledge to everyone who is deprived of it. The combination of blue and white colors represents professionalism, commitment, and sincerity.

The secret privilege of User Generated Innovation

The secret privilege of User Generated Innovation

Newton was an innovative PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) developed and marketed by Apple Inc., released in 1993. It was defined as a device that was ahead of its time by techies, and the marketers simply called it a device that nobody needed. Later, after the end of its production in 1998, it was called so many things besides an innovative product. It has been more than two decades since its disappearance, but would you believe if you were told that there is still a cult group of its users who are trying to keep Newton alive today by rewriting the operating system solely for the last device they own? They make a group that is hardly a little more than five thousand people, but their commitment to the product is unbelievable considering the leaps Apple has made in the smartphone and personal computer industries. The strange fact is that there is a guy who uses only the Newton he bought decades ago, and believes it is better than the iphone. It feels strange to learn that there are hardcore fans for this failed product all over the world including the countries like France, UK, Kuwait and Japan. They all keep their shrinking population alive and active with the annual world wide Newton conference.

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While Newton narrates a different kind of user innovation, there are other cases that show how users contribute to the growth and development of a product, and therefore the brand. There are many brands that heavily rely on user innovation even today. GE (General Electric) sells medical imaging equipment such as MRIs to skilled technicians at a lower price in exchange for the rights of their innovations as the company found that the technicians who put the machine to use everyday made certain technical arrangements to better the performance and made interesting improvements. Another global brand Lego worked with professors at MIT for innovative designs but shortly found that there are enthusiastic adult users out there in the real world who are better innovators. So Lego allowed them to post their designs on their website.

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Sports and sports equipment have an affinity for user innovation. Rodeo Kayaking took a commercial turn transforming itself into a $100 million business through user innovations. The tweaks and alterations that the users came up with were a surprise for the manufacturers. Mountain bike modifications using local information, surfboards modification and improving skiing equipment brought about significant benefits to the respective brands and manufacturers. Nordic sports equipment manufacturers such as Bergans and Exetrem recognized the contributions of the users and started to make them stakeholders of their brand equity. Even Nike+, a joint project with Apple, is a case for user generated innovation as the app turned out to be a free marketing portal that helped the brand keep in touch with the runners’ community. Finally, baby joggers may be the odd one out in this short list, but the joggers too have had their dose of tweaks and modifications which are popular for a long time.

So if you ask what’s in it for brands, this piece of information is not for you.

As brands care about user innovation, branding agencies too have a moral responsibility to care about it equally. This calls for a renewed attention to the word end-users. Users are a source of brand equity and value. The information that certain brand communities develop and disseminate contribute immensely to the growth of a brand. This set of cases reveal with evidence that the communication that happens between brands and users is something more than feedback, and it is called innovation.

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Not all ideas are bulletproof. Know which are.

Not all ideas are bulletproof.
Know which are.

Branding is nothing new.

It is as old as cattle rearing.

But not many know that the real value of brands was known to the world in 1988 when Philip Morris – one of the largest consumer goods producers at that time – purchased Kraft Inc., for $13.1 billion in cash. This gutsy move by Philip Morris relegated Unilever to the second position in the consumer goods market and emerged as #1. Until then, brands were just names that helped companies sell more products and those that possessed mammoth valuations only on paper. But nobody was sure what the real value of a brand would be. What Philip Morris did was nothing less than institutionalizing companies and reinstating that successful companies produce brands but not products. Though branding was a well-established practice in every market, 1988 spelled it out loud and clear that brands need to build a solitary uniqueness for themselves in preparation for the evolution that was brewing in the world around them.

Bullets too are nothing new.

They were first made in the nineteenth century.

But bulletproofing came a century after that.

Check this: Branding for Startups

Today, entrepreneurship has become so common that it is no longer a job restricted to the glass-walled offices. Despite the democratization, every day a lot of ideas end up in garbage bins. While some ideas lack the potential to make business, some good ideas are unable to enjoy the fruits of their efforts because of poor branding and imitable brand traits.

When the tech-entrepreneurship in the Silicon Valley was going at a breakneck pace, it experienced a jolt that had its origins in Europe. Marc, Alexander and Oliver Samwer of Munich, Germany are three brothers who caused this jolt by replicating some of the biggest tech ideas such as Airbnb, ebay, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and many others in the European market and reaped heavy returns. They also made it a habit to blitzscale their own versions of those ideas in Europe and later sell it to the American counterpart. Contrary to this, there are several other brands that made quality consumer goods but failed miserably. Today, nobody would believe that Colgate made food products, Apple made cameras and Heinz made purple ketchup. Why? Because of poor branding strategy, they could not make it to the consumers’ cart.

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The point of discussion is not about protecting valuable ideas but to brand those ideas from the beginning so that they can grow stronger – strong enough to take a bullet and save the entrepreneur from failing. Replication of an idea is as dangerous as ignoring one. Today, branding as a discipline grew beyond names and logos. It emerged as a long-term solution to several problems. Leverage its power.

Because only branded ideas are bulletproof.

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Gastro Clinics

Gastro Clinics


Working from our gut to create a brand solution
for a clinic that’s an expert at working on the gut.

‘Classic’ and ‘humane’ is what we had in mind when we approached this logo design. The colours are sophisticated and ensure people are not further intimidated by the word ‘treatment’. A simple and relevant mnemonic on the canvas of a shield, representing safety and trust – the two things that matter most in healthcare. From a certain angle, it also looks like a container, communicating that the clinic holds industry knowledge. It’s a chain of clinics in Hyderabad, hence the minimalism so it can break the loud clutter without doing too much.