Armed with a brand new strategy, 9122 is ready for independent business

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 09, 2011
Fusing brand consultancy and design, 9122, Percept/H's design division plans to build its own portfolio of projects.

9122 Inc. has an interesting tale, not just behind its unique name, but also the way it approaches its services. A part of the Percept Group, 9122 Inc. is Percept/H's design division. It does not, however, stop at being just that; it offers brand consultancy services, as well.

Set up a little over a year ago, the name of the agency comes from the Mumbai dial code (+91 22) after the name Mumbai Inc. was nixed. With an objective to look at brands, not just from a design perspective, 9122 Inc. claims to approach a brand from its very roots, and tackle it from a consultant's point of view.

Talking to afaqs!, Chaitanya Rele, brand and design director, 9122 Inc. says, "The idea was to set up a division that would deal with brands at the core. I have seen a lot of design agencies in India, but what they primarily do is focus on the design output. Our job is to take the brand right from the concept, try and understand the problem, try and understand what the consumer wants. If our design solution does not understand what the issue is then we would not be able to create an active solution."

Rele adds, "Our differentiating factor is that we are consultants, and we are also designers. This is not a new model. Although, no Indian consultancies have used it yet, there are many international big players who see value in the Indian market.

So far, the agency has been working with many Percept clients, besides independent ones. However, with a portfolio to back up, 9122 Inc. is now looking at venturing out and pitching more aggressively for non-Percept businesses.

"A consultancy is nothing without a portfolio. In the first year, we focussed on building one. Now that we have a strong enough portfolio and presence, we are looking at expanding into non-Percept businesses. We have been a part of pitches. What is good is the fact that we have actually been invited to pitch," says Rele.

The agency has, until now, worked on brands such as Sunburn, Force India Formula One Team, Toyota, Aamby Valley City, Egg Express, Pune Warriors (Indian Premier League Pune franchise, owned by the Sahara Group), among others.

Rele says that the agency has still "not cracked MNCs". According to him, as 9122 is a young organisation, it must build relationships, and be grounded.

Talking about 9122 Inc., Prabhakar Mundkur, chief executive officer, Percept/H says, "It is not just a design agency. When you combine brand consultancy and design, you get a very powerful organisation. It is my belief that the two do not exist in the right proportion in the Indian market, and that is what 9122 Inc. is essentially offering."

The team at 9122 Inc. includes a mix of both brand consultants and designers, with Rele himself being armed with around a decade of experience in branding, design and retail consultancy, working on brands such as P&G, Bharti-Walmart, Marks & Spencers, Dunlop, Vodafone, and Nokia, among other brands across the world.

Mundkur and Rele are also of the view that with Ryan Menezes joining Percept/H recently as the chief creative officer, 9122 Inc.'s prospects will improve, as he will closely work with Rele's team on projects.

"Menezes has a great eye for design. We are having fruitful conversations and are collaborating on projects. I see this association going a long way," says Rele.

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