Nisha Qureshi

Ashwini Deshpande of Elephant Design on what it took to rebrand Campa

She talks about the challenges of transforming the iconic brand for today’s youngsters.

Reliance Consumer Products recently announced the relaunch of Campa, the iconic beverage brand. The soft drink was quite popular back in the 1970s and 80s.

As per Reliance Consumer Products, “The launch of this brand is in line with the company’s strategy to promote homegrown (Indian) brands that not only have a rich heritage, but also boast a deep-rooted connect with Indian consumers, due to their unique tastes and flavours.”

For the uninitiated, the Campa Cola brand rose to fame when Coca-Cola exited the Indian market in 1977. Charanjit Singh, owner of Pure Drinks Group that used to make Coca-Cola in India, then saw a space in the market for an Indian cola brand.

The brand saw much of its success during those years and used to compete with Thums Up, until Pepsi entered India on the back of the country’s economic reforms.

A few years later, Thums Up and Pepsi took the Indian cola market by storm, and Campa Cola was only present in a few local markets, until it shut shop in 2012. The brand, however, still remains in the memory of people, who were youngsters back then, owing to its appealing positioning.

Now that one of the biggest conglomerates in the country have relaunched the brand, everyone is excited about what’s in store.

In India, cola brands have historically been handled by international agencies. However, it’s a homegrown branding and designing agency - Elephant Design - that has worked on Campa.

Talking about how it feels to be a homegrown agency working on a cola brand, Ashwini Deshpande, co-founder and director, Elephant Design says that it is not unusual for brand teams, with big ambitions, to work with Elephant Design. 

“Every team chooses a branding agency based on the best interest of the brand and its intended audience. Whether it’s a global or homegrown agency, is incidental and shouldn’t be the criteria.” 

“In this case, what may have worked in our favour, is our in-depth understanding and experience of building successful Indian brands for over three decades. We also have the ability to align with the optimistic young Indians, who’re open to new experiences.” 

Speaking about what it took to rebuild Campa, Deshpande, says that the last leading cola brand was created in India over 45 years ago. Other leading cola brands are global giants with an even longer history, she adds.

“It was about time ‘The Great Indian Cola’ surfaced for today’s youth, who want to make the most of every occasion to live life to the fullest.”

Asked whether the brand will play on the nostalgia factor, Deshpande says that since the brand team has the ambition, reach and resources to make it a cola drink for the ‘young go-getter’ Indian, Elephant Design has decided to limit the legacy to the name and add fresh confidence.

“Those who knew it, would want to see the new avatar out of nostalgia and curiosity. But, more importantly, we wanted to grab the attention of millennials and Gen Z, who may not have heard of the brand, as this would be their first exposure to Campa.”

Usually cola brands in India have sub-brands for different flavours - Limca, Fanta, Coca-Cola, etc. However that may not be the case with Campa, mentions Deshpande.

“There’s no intention to slip into the ‘category codes’. We didn’t want to go by the conventional rules of branding fizzy beverages. As we had a consensus that Campa would be built on the codes of being confident, unpretentious and highly differentiated, there was no need for creating multiple brands, as the attitude and promise would remain consistent across all Campa beverages.”

“We took the liberty to design the brand out of a dynamic swoosh going over a chilled can or bottle, to reveal the bold new identity. Just as every mood, occasion and life stage needs diversity, the logo unit takes up a vignette behind a confident logotype.”

Ashwini Deshpande of Elephant Design on what it took to rebrand Campa
Ashwini Deshpande of Elephant Design on what it took to rebrand Campa

“I hope the brand reaches its intended audiences at the right time and place through impactful communication, going forward," adds Deshpande.

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