The day two of Kyoorius Design Yatra 2008 concluded with a panel discussion on corporate branding with Saffron's Wally Olins (pictured, left) and Pentagram's Paula Scher (pictured, right). The session was moderated by Lava Graphic Design's Paul Hughes (pictured, centre).
Scher kicked off the discussion by saying that while the art history of India is extremely rich and the architecture is great, the graphic design is not "indigenous, it is imitated from everywhere." Olins agreed with that and said, "India needs to find a design route which is different from the west and entrenched in its own culture."
Olins also added, "It will take India approximately 20 years to reach where a lot of other countries are in terms of design. The Indian organisations have understood if they use sense of place, they will be distinctive in terms of design," said Olins.
According to Olins, corporate branding distinguishes one organisation from another with characteristics unique to that organisation. Scher's company Pentagram works with mid-sized or non-profit organisations. "We don't do much corporate stuff as it will make us sit in the meetings all day. We do talk to corporates and suggest changes to them through relationships and a series of conversation. We want to find clients who can move radically." Olins' company, on the other hand, works with large corporates and attempts to "influence them to evolve and more often to transform." He added, "In India, we are helping companies to come to terms with global competition including the way they project themselves."
Olins' work on corporate banding starts with what he likes to call "investigative journalism". He said, "We interview people in the organisation and outside the organisation as to what they think/feel about the organisation. We then communicate this to the organisation and tell them that this is what you need to do and now we'll help you out. When they agree, we develop the core idea. We then have to influence the movers and shakers in the organisation to agree with what we are doing."
According to Olins, the challenge in corporate branding is that it is a much more difficult task in the long run. The alignment between the client, the branding company and the other suppliers is extremely important but that happens rarely. The biggest challenge in corporate branding, according to Scher, is that people are afraid to make a decision most of the times. "They don't want to take a risk. You have to spend lot of time dealing with hierarchy and fear," he said.