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23rd November, 2016   9 min read

Branding for Imaginea Design Labs

By Tripti Shrivastava

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A brand in its own right represents the global version of a company and serves as a conducting thread or epicenter for the different avenues of the company. A well-established brand can maximize the efficiency, minimize the necessary investments and strengthen the actions for a company.

Set up in the year 2015, Imaginea Design Labs is  part of Pramati Technologies, a privately held software product company established in 1998. After having an experience of around two decades in technology and business, the design lab was set up (in Hyderabad and Chennai) with an aim to cater to the needs of various software product design services and, to build a culture of design and design thinking in the industry.

As a designer, I’m always looking for projects that help me explore various mediums, styles, and something that is both challenging and exciting at the same time.  Hence an opportunity to do the branding for Imaginea Design Labs was offered to me as the final degree project (for my masters at NID), I took it up instantly.

It’s a bubbling studio with a team of 30 super cool and amazing designers but, since it had scaled up so fast, in the process, it seemed to have lost its touch with the core vision and strategy that would streamline and guide every process and every work it does. Also, when there is such a diverse team of individuals, the need for guiding values and ideas that bring consistency in everything that they do is even higher.

The initial brief given was- ‘Branding for Imaginea Design Labs’ which later on evolved to- ‘Strategic and visual branding for Imaginea Design Labs to fulfill the purpose of the organization and to help build a sustainable competitive advantage.’ Hence, the project began with an intention to take the company and the team through a journey of self-exploration in order to identify and define its very essence as an organization and, to create a consistent brand image.

After having an understanding of the scope of the project, I divided it into a total of 8 stages-

  1. Prepare
  2. Analyse
  3. Define
  4. Ideate
  5. Design
  6. Validate
  7. Implement
  8. Document

Through the course of the project, I’ll be using this space to share the work that I have been doing.

The first two stages of the project are – Prepare and Analyze.

I went ahead with these through a series of interviews, workshops, presentations and an extensive secondary research.

[1] Secondary study

This involved understanding the domain and doing a contextual study of the existing products and business, competitor study (both Indian and global players in the field) and, the upcoming and emerging scenarios. The secondary study is an ongoing process as it involves thorough research and analysis of the collected data and information. Through the course of this, I referred to numerous books, e-books, blogs, and articles. A project of this scale demands a divergent approach and that’s what I went ahead with.


[2] Stakeholder interview

To begin with, I identified all the major stakeholders of the company and the organization; I then prepared a questionnaire according to each one of them and talked to them in a long interview format.

The exercise was a very fruitful one as it gave a picture of “who we are”, “where do we come from” and “where we are headed” from different points of view. It also made me understand how the various daughter companies of Pramati interact with each other, what are the expectations and what is the current scenario like.

“We’ve always been an engineering country but with very few product designers (software products). So we think that the top of the mountain is still vacant; there’s no one up in the top who can put a flag there and say- ‘here is a good software design company from India’- which is where we want to be.”

– Chandrasekhar Sivaraman, Vice President, Pramati Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

“Imaginea Design Labs is the melting point between design and engineering and it was set up to build and develop a culture of design practice in Pramati and in the industry.”

-Subhasish Karmakar, Head of Design, Products and Services, Imaginea Design Labs

Pramati’s and Imaginea’s experience in building engineered products will give way to design and vice versa. Imagine Design Labs was set up to build great product experiences and eventually, it aspires to become the service design evangelist in the country.


[3] Brand and brand building

July 14, ’16

Branding for an organization is a collective exercise. For a successful brand to be created, the entire team needs to come together, with a clear understanding of what is a brand and how do we build one.

Hence on a fine Thursday evening, I got the team together for an interactive session that consisted of a lot of talking to each other, laughter and learnings about the brand and the 5 disciplines of brand-building (based on Marty Neumeier’s The Brand Gap).

The entire session revolved around the following questions (in the given context of IDL):

Who are we?

Who needs to know?

Why should they care?

Why should we care?

How will they find out?

Since I was a part of this as an external moderator, it was a two-way exercise. On one hand the team got an understanding of brand (theoretically and practically) and the role that each one of them plays as the brand ambassadors and, on the other hand, I got to know and analyze the current thoughts and ideas of the team members on which I would build upon the next steps and processes.

“A BRAND IS A PERSON’S GUT FEELING
ABOUT A PRODUCT, SERVICE OR ORGANIZATION.”

-Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap

From Marty Neumeier’s book, The Brand Gap

The session went ahead in the order of the following five disciplines of brand-building to make a brand charismatic, with each one of them having an activity to do with the team.

1.Differentiate

The most important word for differentiating a brand- FOCUS! The team was asked to take a Focus Test on ‘what you are’ and ‘what do you want to do’

 Activity: Draw your Brand – The team was asked to figuratively represent their brand (IDL).

From Marty Neumeier’s book, The Brand Gap

2. Collaborate

This discipline talks about ownership and the various collaborative networks.

“It takes a village to build a brand!”

 
Activity: Personal and Professional goals
The team was asked to pen down their personal and professional goals.

From Marty Neumeier’s book, The Brand Gap

3. Innovate

Creativity is what gives brands their traction in the market. For this discipline, we talked about identifying an innovative idea and about standing out. The discussion went ahead with analyzing IDL’s visual identity and it’s online presence.


Activity 1: Brand name analysis- Imaginea Design Labs
The team was asked to rate out of 10, the name IDL on the basis of- distinction, brevity, appropriateness, spelling and pronunciation, likability, extendability, and protectability.


Activity 2: Three questions
This had a set of three questions followed by an extensive discussion over the same-
What is that one thing that you like about your website?
What is that one thing that you dislike about your website?
What is that one thing that you’d like to change about your website?

From Marty Neumeier’s book, The Brand Gap

4. Validate

Validation means bringing the audience into the creative process. It talked about how today’s creative process is more of a dialogue and not a monolog (unlike earlier times) and we need to test our ideas even before they get to the market. And since that cannot always be done with large quantitative studies and focus groups, the three cheap-quick-dirty tests as proposed by Neumeier were discussed-

  1. The Swap Test as a proof of trademarks: If the names and graphics of two trademarks are better when swapped then neither of them is optimal.
  2. The Hand Test as proof for a distinctive voice: If one can’t tell who’s talking when the trademark is covered, then the brand’s voice is not distinctive.
  3. The Field Test as a proof of any concept that can be prototyped: If the audience can’t verbalize the concept, it has failed to communicate it.


Activity: Analyse the brand IDL
Now that the team had a little understanding of brand and brand building, they were asked to analyze the brand IDL on the basis of- distinctiveness, relevance, memorability, extendability and consistency.

From Marty Neumeier’s book, The Brand Gap

5. Cultivate

A business is a process and not an entity, and thus a living brand is a pattern of behavior, not a stylistic veneer.
New paradigm: Influence the CHARACTER of the brand

This discipline talks about the ways to influence the character of a brand and the GTCM (goal, target, channel, and message) model of brand communication.

 

From Marty Neumeier’s book, The Brand Gap


[4] Brand analysis

(July 18, ’16)

This session was conducted with only the managers and the senior members of the team, especially those who are involved in various decision-making processes.

The session revolved around the following questions:

What do we know?

What do we assume?

What do we think?

What do we need to find out?

What are we going to do?

The agenda for the meeting was to analyze IDL as a brand again, keeping in mind ‘where we are’ and ‘where we want to be’, in terms of-

  1. The current scenario (S.W.O.T. analysis)
  2. The current customers (primary and secondary audience, key influencers, trend needs and existing perceptions of the brand category)
  3. The current competitive position and brand audit (market advantage, market position, and portfolio in terms of- product, promise, price, and experience)
  4. Internal factors
  5. Target (1 year and 5 year- quantitative and qualitative)
  6. Brand personality and brand values

Insights:

Since the company is still in the development stage, a lot of scenarios had little or no information/date to reflect and to analyze. Also, a lot of them were based on observation only. However, the most important aspect that came up was- the opportunity and the scope. The opportunity for aspiring and coming up with a plan of action and the scope of bringing about the change and making things happen.

Asking the right questions not only triggered a lot of new thoughts and ideas in everybody’s mind but also enabled them to take a new approach to the older issues. The session was an extremely important one also because this laid the foundation for the brand that we’ll eventually be building together.


Coming up next…

The next stages are Define and Ideate. These will involve-

  1. Moving Motivators and Big Values
  2. Defining the brand attributes, objectives, and personality

So look up for this space and stay tuned! 🙂

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