As I close in on a year and a half at Prayag, I find that the journey, like any, has at times taken unexpected paths, had highs and lows, and surprises too. But one thing I know for sure – I have learned a whole lot, and gotten involved in a variety of activities/clients and extended my writing to areas I never knew much about. One of the aspects of working for Prayag that makes it different from my previous jobs (and I have been working for over a decade now, and in two different countries) is the sheer diversity. One of the stated goals for us this year, as a small and niche company, has been to engage with different sectors and clients, and not get bogged down by thinking that might typecast us into just IT or market research. Yes, a lot of our clients are indeed IT players, but over the last one year, I have also worked on accounts and pitches ranging from a personal care products start up to a travel and tickets booking website, as well as a bespoke, responsible tourism company.
So, what is to be gained from the variety? Well, first off, invaluable experience. By dipping our toes into new sectors and showing willingness to work with smaller and less developed (in terms of ideology as well as methodology) startups, we’re opening ourselves up to learning and evolving, both as individuals and as a company, and enhancing our business knowledge. And, along the way, we learn more about our team and are more often than not, pleasantly surprised by what our collective knowledge and individual thought processes can yield. Branding and logo development, I learned, is not work done in a silo, by the designers alone. For, hand in hand with a logo design, come a name, and a tagline. We’re not an advertising agency but, at these moments, we get the experience of thinking and working like one, and it enlivens things!
Take for example, a pitch we did last year for a budding online travel firm that wanted to compete with the big names like Cleartrip and MakeMyTrip. It was the first time at Prayag that I got to work on something so creative and outside the box (we planned for a big bang launch and related events, came up with collaterals for the pitch presentation) and I got to see the talent that our designers possessed. Though we didn’t end up winning the account, the learning we got from the experience emboldened us to take on a different travel client later in the year. A small, niche company that offers responsible and ethical travel experiences, for whom we created a website, content and a range of collaterals. In the process, I researched and wrote about activities, foods, culture, and places of interest in a couple of different countries, including India. I have been left with such a yearning to visit and explore each and every one of those places; it has just furthered my wanderlust!
We have also been working with companies in the field of education. From a special needs school that wants to create a new logo, revamp its website and come up with a tagline, to a startup assessing the market for a niche service they wish to offer via market research, to another startup that offers certification courses that help to bridge the campus to corporate gap, we’ve expanded our understanding and knowledge of the behind-the-scenes workings in the education sector. We’ve all been students, but the nitty gritty that goes into the business of education – now that is a whole other ballgame!
For the personal care products pitch we did recently, so much research and reading up presented us with different perspectives, and a view of the vast number of players around, in what is still an evolving and growing market. People are forever interested in skin care, hair care and the like. We learned to differentiate between natural, organic and handmade, and we came upon some interesting facts about the soap market. For example, did you know that our good old Mysore Sandal Soap has recently got a serious upgrade? There is now a variety of this soap, called Mysore Sandal Millennium Soap, that retails for over INR 700 a bar! And while I always had a passing interest in using natural products for my hair and skin, the research I did made me realize how little I actually knew, and how one needs to read and understand labels and claims by companies before accepting claims of “organic”, etc.
So, this has indeed been a year of meeting interesting startups and learning about new and varied businesses in non-mainstream (for us!) sectors. It has also been a year of growth and understanding and spreading of wings, professionally. Startup branding is an exciting and growing world, and one we are sure glad to be a part of!