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LogoGuppy teams up with experts to form retail consultancy

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | November 16, 2010
Experts in their respective fields of retail and logo design, Aparna Ponnappa and John Mascarenhas, have come together to form the REDD Network, which aims to work with smaller retailers.

It is pure coincidence that three big brands, Jagran Prakashan, HDFC Standard Life Insurance and Airtel - belonging to three different categories - have announced re-branding exercises this month. The brands are altering their logos (Airtel's is yet to be officially unveiled), proving that a brand's identity and logo design are gaining more importance in marketers' minds.

Picking up on this trend, Bengaluru based design agency, LogoGuppy, run by designers John Mascarenhas and Joel Sailo, has teamed up with entrepreneur Aparna Ponnappa to form the REDD (Retail Education Design & Development) Network.

REDD Network is a new entrant in the retail consulting space and was founded towards the end of October with the objective of offering retail training, competency building, design and development consulting and implementation services. However, its USP lies in the fact that it targets small to mid-size retailers.

The firm offers solutions under three spaces for retail: Education - customised training programmes and competency improvement, process management and workshops; Design - end-to-end solutions from logo and identity to BTL (below-the-line) marketing, store design and advertising; and Development - envisaging, creating and implementing unique differentiators for retailers, which will make their stores far more successful within the spaces they operate in.

With a decade of retail experience at companies such as Titan, Himalaya Drug Company, Levi's and her last stint with Reliance Retail, Ponnappa realized that retail was her true calling, while Mascarenhas's mainstay for most of his 12 year career has been in marketing and advertising, where he's worked with companies such as McCann Erickson, Godrej Lifespace, Portico and Mahindra Holidays and Resorts, before venturing into design. He went on to set up the creative hot shop, LogoGuppy.

Interestingly, LogoGuppy, which was founded in 2006 and has been working on international projects (in the US, Europe and Australia), has made its way into the sixth annual edition of Logo Lounge, the virtual Bible of the best logo design work from across the globe, where seven logo designs from its portfolio were picked. Now, LogoGuppy, part of the REDD Network, will offer its services to Indian clients as well.

Discussing the alliance, Ponnappa says, "We feel that there is a lacuna for a comprehensive solution provider in the retail space and it was during a chance meeting with Mascarenhas that we figured that we could put together a portfolio offering a plethora of services to help new, small and medium players in the field of retail."

Sharing the thought behind REDD Network choosing to work with smaller retailers, Ponnappa shares that they believe that small and mid-size retailers have a greater hunger for success - they are agile and eager to learn and experiment.

In less than a month since its launch, REDD Network is now working with four clients - a dairy major in the South, for which it is re-designing the entire packaging. Besides this, there is a food chain start-up, a technology company and a micro-financing firm. Simultaneously, LogoGuppy continues its designing work for international businesses and companies.

When quizzed on the importance of logo design in the Indian marketplace, Mascarenhas says that the market is still nascent. "The big conglomerates and the established Indian players, with years of heritage behind them, are strong with their identity - be it Bajaj, Tata, Maruti or Godrej. However, the small and medium businesses just haven't caught on."

He adds that in the international markets, even a virtual assistant or a small entrepreneur takes pride in creating a unique identity that represents them. They understand the need of a well thought out corporate identity and how it goes a long way in establishing them as a brand.

Comparing this to the Indian market, he opines, "Here, you take a walk down a busy commercial area in any metro - apart from the international brands, you see the usual suspects - an overly used Indian font - for all ethnic clothes stores, with the abused motifs of Swastikas and Aums, and the same permutation and combination of globes and stick figures for the IT companies."

The team feels that there are Indian companies that have done great in terms of logo design. For example, the newly rebranded Cafe Coffee Day, which is a great use of conversation quotes tying in beautifully with its tag line, 'A lot can happen over coffee'; the decades-old Air India 'Maharaja' which sums up old school Indian hospitality; UTV - for translating beautifully across media; MindTree, an IT consulting firm, for its story behind the origin of the logo; and South India based jewellery brand, Ganjam, for its opulence.

Sharing the insight on REDD Network's own logo, Ponnappa says that this was Mascarenhas' work and he thought of it as he likes throwing in multiple elements in a single motif, which speaks the vision of the brand.

They explain that from a retail perspective, the logo depicts a bag with goodies being dropped into it and it represents the kind of firm REDD Network wants to be. "The thought bubbles signify that our work is predominantly cerebral. Then there is something fundamental - the logo also forms a Ganesha, someone you invoke before the start of anything new!"

On a lighter vein, she laughingly adds, "It also signifies our coffers and money falling into it!"

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