Farm to firm: Expeditions of a brand master
How a boy from remote hamlet became founder of a creative boutique
I grew up in a village near Ahmednagar. Below the wide blue sky, surrounded by lush green farms, amongst the deep rooted cultural values of the countryside I was raised. These all had an illuminating impact on my vision about the world.
My parents were farmers so my childhood was spent juggling between my studies and helping out my parents on the farm. I always remained connected to the soil by such happenings. I always got mesmerized by the scenic landscapes of my village which evoked the artist in me.
After passing my S.S.C, I decided to study fine art at the Government School of Art, Aurangabad. During this period I would take up jobs such as painting signboards and make portraits. I even sold Tobacco products on my bicycle to shops. Now I know how harmful it is but back then survival was the chief driving force behind this struggle. During the 5 years of art education, I solely dedicated myself to learning insights of art and theatre.
I moved to the city of dreams and financial capital of the nation, Mumbai after completing my graduation. I got the opportunity to work as a visualizer. The recession was just arrived back then, after much hard work, I joined one reputed advertising agency as an Art Director. The most rewarding part of my career was the time spent working under ad guru & my personal mentor Mr Viru Hiremath. He had a prodigious influence on my career and it was under his guidance that I picked up the nuances of advertising and design.
I had spent 5 years honing my craft. The recession was on peak. So it did seem like the worst time to quit your well-paying, secure job and start a business. But the entrepreneurial urge was overpowering. In the end, it had its way. With just 60,000 as capital, I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey and set up Elixir Designs, a creative design boutique.
Elixir Designs started in a small 7X10 feet area, in a space under the staircase of one of the old buildings near BKC. It was the unlikeliest of places to start a business venture but that was the place where I would sit and brew up a creative storm.
In the beginning, it was very challenging. As time passed I learnt to cut the clutter and this is especially important in life too. You must find your own way to cut out the distraction and concentrate on what’s important.
The Tata’s were my first big client. In the beginning, work would come in the form of projects. It’s the colorful flowers that attract the bee and on the strength of my credentials brought in more clients. As clients grew so did the projects and so I recruited additional hands and moved to a spacious office. After a successful decade of creative excursion, I decided to take the next step.
Elixir Designs transformed into Elixir Integrated Brandcomm Private Limited and shifted to a brand new office. Now we serve clients who are on the list of Fortune 500 companies. Tata Chemicals, Asian Paints are the few of them. Our work has bagged more than 150 awards for excellence.
I always learn from my mistakes and get motivated with my successes. This is my only mantra to live life as it comes, without fear and without favor.
1. Please tell us about yourself. What's your formal education and how did you decide to become a designer?
I decided to be an artist back in my childhood; being born into the traditional agricultural family kept me connected to the mother earth. I could observe the beauties of nature, its different forms and enjoys the art within. I dreamed of designing, painting the same as I keenly observed the nature.
After passing my S.S.C, I decided to study fine art at the Government School of Art, Aurangabad. I learnt here everything about the art from theories to the exposure to the practical knowledge. My passion for designing grew and developed with me. My childhood fantasies got the tools of reality during my academic training. I was introduced to the different world of art which puts philosophy in any object. This changed my perspective forever about the designing.
2. Where are you currently working? Please introduce us to your studio, team and kind of projects you're taking up.
I am a founder, director and creative head of progressive and award winning brand communication agency called Elixir Integrated Brandcomm Private Limited. I lead the team of young and energetic minds. We mould ourselves according to the need of the communication. Our work is divided into three basic segments, naming, brand communication, internal communication and space branding. A website, explain all these aspects in detail was recently launched by us, you are always welcome to check out it at http://elixirbrandcomm.com/
3. Is there a methodology you follow when working on projects?
Certainly, there is a methodology behind our work. Everything happens in a set pattern of the scientifically proven ways. We study the hidden potential of the brand while designing the integrated communication campaign for it. The brand has to be positioned in the market based on its characteristics. Deciding the positioning comes when we have a deep understanding of the target audience for the product. Next step is to add a wow-ness to the product through the communication campaign. This exercise is intended to create an overall brand experience which is felt by the user. Advertising nurtures the brand experience to bridge the gap between the target audience and the brand through various means of communication.
4. Tell us about one or two projects you're proud of leading/being part of.
A few years back Kenya was facing serious drought and was severely affected with 3.5 million cases of malnutrition among children, no drinking water for 2.5 million people, 482,404 families leaving their home to take refuge in camps and 50 million domestic animals that were dying. Tata Chemicals Limited took up a pledge to raise and donate US$500,000 towards the drought affected Magadi region of Kenya. For every contribution from an employee across the Tata Chemicals Limited, Tata Chemicals Limited would add its own by doubling that amount. We, therefore, partnered with Tata Chemicals Limited in an effort to touch employees across the Tata Chemicals Limited family, giving them an opportunity to be philanthropic towards the Magadi people. Everyone was shaken by the eye-opening campaign and moved by witnessing the actual, vicious disorder of the Magadi region. Fund contribution came pouring in, as the campaign spread across. 72% employees from India, UK, Kenya and US generously contributed to the corpus fund.
5. What inspires you?
I have lived a through a varied range of phases throughout my life till now. This made me strong; this made me what I am today. Before coming to Mumbai, my life was spent on the farm. When I arrived in the Mumbai survived on the pavement, lived in a chawl and even lived in a lavish bungalow. This richness of exposure to the realities and diverse set of people from different walks of life inspire me.
6. What do you find the most challenging in your profession?
Making communication campaigns for consumer products is very easy because we know the products. We often consume them. It is very easy to relate to it and putting ourselves in the boots. When we are designing communication campaigns in the B2B segment, we need little more efforts to put. Generally, B2B communication requires insightful understanding about their functioning, their market, their target audience, and brand’s expectations. This is the puzzling part but if we crack it, nothing tastes like success.
7. Tell us about your journey as an entrepreneur?
I put on shoes of an entrepreneur right when global recession was at its peak. I started in 7 x 10 office. It was the unlikeliest of places to start a business venture, a place where not many would venture. A tiny room came with its own pros and cons. As the year passed and clients came to know me and my work, I climbed the ladders of success. My business and number of colleagues grew. Now I transformed firm Elixir Designs into private limited business, Elixir Integrated Brandcomm Private Limited and shifted to brand new and artistically designed office.
8. What would be your biggest advice to your younger self?
My advice to youngsters is to keep the fire in the belly alive and kicking. This requires passion and love for what you do. You need to put your soul into your work because minting money is the last thing you should work for.
9. What's next? How and where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
I see myself and our organization passing new milestones of success and glory. I want to take my firm to the ranking of top creative communication agencies of India with shining record of accomplishments.
The communication work that works
Ganesh Gadakh – Founder Director & Creative Head, Elixir Integrated Brandcomm Pvt. Ltd.
Elixir IBC studio, Mumbai