Ananya Pathak
Design Digest

"Design language, colour palettes and photography styles reflect purity, hygiene, care": Ashish Mishra, Interbrand

In our series 'Design Digest', we explore what the world looks like from the desk of brands' design heads, as they face new challenges.

Here's what Ashish Mishra, managing director of Interbrand India, a brand consultancy which is part of The Brand Consulting Group of Omnicom Group, has to say:

How has the ongoing crisis changed the challenges facing design teams? What is the biggest change?

The most potent impact of the (Coronavirus) pandemic is essentialism, along with meaningfulness. So, it’s all about making essential emotional, and the emotional essential. This underlines the developments across the board.

The way we work now is remote, and that was a problem. Simply because the conceptual process begins with explorations, absorption and experimentation. Acts that were easier through the normal dialogues, suggestions and builds. So, we are now trying to distil the explorations and design prototyping processes into convergent platforms.

Many of our team structures have become amoebic and close-knit. Having common spaces on digital assets have helped create virtual habitats and communities. Often, the client partners are also part of them. This has allowed people to dispense with the unnecessary, and bring in a lot of emotional energy into the work. It has helped to offset the isolation that was a fallout of the extended lockdown. And continued to facilitate a more efficient and effective design thinking.

How has the client brief changed? How are they looking to leverage design to gain customer trust, especially at a time when overall consumer sentiment is quite low? What role does design have in helping a consumer trust a brand?

The client briefs have naturally started to respond to the end customers’ reduced risk affinity, coupled with accentuated health and wellness need states.

How has the visual tone of communication changed since the pandemic started? Are brands turning to a new set of colours/visual markers of hygiene (such as foamy hands)?

The brands have responded by recalibrating their portfolios, and even innovating to highlight the products, services and a design experiential that resonate with safety, immunity and wellness.

The pandemic has accelerated habit formation in a few sectors, especially personal hygiene. How can product design and the visual language of communication help accelerate habit adoption in consumers?

Product design innovations to create hands-free doors and appliances, and value adds to support the health-first mindsets, are a few examples that can be seen around. Design language, colour palettes and photography styles reflect purity, hygiene, care, and togetherness.

Everyone is dividing time and reality into pre and post-COVID. For a design executive and leader, what does the post-COVID world look like, in terms of work, skill sets and related demands?

The digital design experiences have been the biggest gainer in these times. With real experiences amiss, digital channels have stepped up remarkably to simulate the offline ones. Global initiatives, like P&G My Home, and local ones from the likes of Godrej Properties home browsing app, have been exemplary on this count.

The AD (after domestication) world, as against the BC (before Corona), will see changes that will be more of overdue corrections. Corrections at various levels, like in the hypergrowth agendas and corporate greed, work-life balance, hyper-individuality, valuing what’s important in life, inclusion and acceptance of differences, and in understanding that we can’t control everything always.

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