In the world of brands, visual identity is an important aspect that differentiates brands. While there were a few who always presented themselves as visual identity specialists, in most cases design was always seen as a part of the bigger advertising business. So the same people who made TV commercials and print ads also designed your brand logo and chose colours for it. However as the industry matures and as customers get more complex, specialists who are expert in ‘a’ particular field have found an opportunity to make a difference. It would not be wrong to say Saswata Das of WOW Design is one such beneficiary of the change.
An engineer by qualification and a lover of Maths & Physics, Saswata followed the herd to do engineering and then worked briefly at Wipro. However semiconductors and consumer electronics could not engage his interests for long and he decided to understand the world of marketing and branding by joining a course in MICA. After MICA, Saswata briefly worked as a marketing manager before he decided to startup on his own. “The streak of entrepreneurship was always there in me, so when the opportunity of fulfilling the dream presented itself, it seemed like a natural progression. It was sheer luck that I met like-minded people, who also happen to be my present business partners, which propelled me to take the plunge,” says Saswata.
About his choice of design as the field for entrepreneurship, Saswata admits to be heavily influenced by Steve Jobs. “As Steve Jobs very rightly put it ‘Design is not about how things look, but how things work.’ When seen in the right perspective, everything that I did from engineering to marketing was all about design – sometimes it was electronic circuits while at other times it was branding strategy,” he says.
Started in 2009, WOW Design already has an impressive portfolio of clients including ITC, Amul, Cavinkare and Kellogg’s among others. It works on all aspects of brand building like brand architecture, brand ideas, brand positioning, innovation, concept development and new market entry strategy among others. From a team of three, today the agency has grown to become a 20 member team coming from different backgrounds of commercial arts, fine arts and more. Saswata admits his previous experience as a marketing manager helped him get the initial clients, but as a team they had to goto great lengths to prove their capabilities. “Those who knew us also put us to test before entrusting us with their brands. While they believed in our strengths enough to give us our much-needed breaks, we had to work hard to prove our mettle and convert them into viable business,” he says. When asked what differentiates them from others in the market, Saswata says apart from competition their focus is on delivering design solutions that not only looks good but also works good in the market. “I think that’s what sets us a class apart. It has actually done wonders for the balance sheets of the brands,” he says.A lot of business for WOW Design today comes in through word of mouth as well as through active pitching to prospects. Among the repertoire of work done to date, Saswata chooses the assignment done for Ghari Detergent revamp as the most memorable assignment they have done todate. “We won the multi agency pitch against biggies on the basis of sheer design strategy. Being a high volume economy segment detergent brand, the change had to be subtle and in line with the technicalities of printing process. Our approach demonstrated deep consumer understanding and strategic thinking which gave Ghari confidence to take on Wheel, the largest brand in the detergent space,” he says.
While they continue to grow in India, WOW Design has trained it eyes on international markets for growth and Saswata is looking at developing economies for opportunities.