Putting Brand 'Contemporary India' on the Map - The Idea Works Story

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"India is where it’s all happening!" says New Delhi based communication design and strategy firm, The Idea Works. Operational since March 2006, The Idea Works has not just taken “India”- as a brand name, across countries around the globe but also brought the world to India.In conversation with Abhilasha Dafria for YourStory.in, co-founder Sudhir John Horo, an alumnus of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, tells us how his venture aims at not just positioning India on the commercial front but also soughting to dispel myths and convey an image of contemporary India, the largest and youngest democracy of the world!

Tell us in detail about The Idea Works.

The Idea Works is the only communication design and strategy firm in India that specialises in place-branding and public diplomacy projects. We work with corporates, institutions and Governments to develop and design knowledge-led communication that fosters a better understanding of the emergent reality and catalyses change in India.

What are the services you provide?

We do research of relevant content and advise our clients on the kind of messaging and communications that is required. We also plan communications campaigns and engagement programmes. We design the communication: text message and graphics and identify the right media for the right message. We are also into liasoning with media companies worldwide to procure media spaces and supervise the production, installation and de-installation.

Apart from this, The Idea Works has been functioning as a boutique design firm working on publication, advertising and corporate identity projects.

Could you tell us how The Idea Works plays a role in Nation Branding?

As the founding team of TheIdeaWorks, Amit Shahi and me, Sudhir John Horo, are responsible for the Communications design and media planning/buying for the INDIA EVERYWHERE campaign that was launched by the Ministry of Industry & Commerce, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2006 to promote India as a business destination.

We have taken “India” to the world through several campaigns such as India Everywhere Campaign, 2006 in Davos, Hanover, Singapore, Tokyo, London; IncredibleIndia@60 Campaign in 2007 at New York against the UN General Assembly, India exhibition in the Europen Parliament, Brussels; IncredibleIndia campaign, Singapore against the first Singtel Night F1 Grand Prix; IncredibleIndia campaign, Copenhagen against the World Climate Summit; IndiaInclusive campaign 2011 Davos against World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

Besides we have also laid a platform to bring the world to India, such as UK Creating Tomorrow Communication design for Public Diplomacy Initiative by the British High Commission in India 2007 and Bonjour India-Communication design for CulturesFrance for the Festival of France in India 2010-11.

Do you have any assistance from the Government to help you scale? We have endorsement by the Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. We have financial support too, but only to host a campus interaction and not to run the programme. INDIAFRICA: A Shared Future is a completely Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India funded programme.

Could you tell us a little about your international tie-ups?

Well, for now, we have no formal tie-ups. But we do have some proposed collaborations with Stanford Change Lab, US as an academic partner for the Year 2 IFC contests, INSEAD as an academic partner for the Year 2 IFC contests and Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) for the Year 2 IFC contests.

How does the revenue model work?

Our revenue model is simple, we get an assignment based professional fee.

What are the challenges you face in this line of nation branding and public diplomacy?

Firstly, the concept of place branding is not mature in India, that was the biggest challenge. However, there is tremendous potential, as each state in India could be marketed to make its proposition visible to investors, tourists and also its citizens. Also, being a small team raises an eyebrow contrary to our record and performance

How big is your team? Are you looking at hiring?

We are 15 in all for now and yes, we are looking to hire people with qualification in foreign relations, design management and communication design.

Did you fund-raise to startup?

No. Its been an organic growth structure. Whatever we earn is ploughed back to grow. However, we are looking at getting funded now.

Any notable accolades for The Idea Works that you’d like to share?

We have won several accolades such as the Singapore Outdoor Advertising Association Award in 2008, as well as the Asia Travel and Tourism Creative Award and PATA Gold Award.

Please visit their website for further details: http://www.theideaworks.in

This article is a part of the British Council’s YCE Series. To know more about the Young Design Entrepreneur Awards, click here. Follow the Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards (YCE) on Facebook

- Abhilasha Dafria