Founded in 1956, Giani’s Ice Cream has grown into an iconic brand with over 100 products and 60 outlets in five Indian states. 60 years later, in 2016, the brand decided it was time to accelerate its growth. It wanted to be seen as a national brand in the domestic market. An eight-month branding exercise with a design studio based in Indore, Arts, has enabled the brand to achieve a 50% increase in growth in just two years.
A food tech startup HeyChef in the United Arab Emirates aimed to launch an online service to provide working class people the ability to call a chef at home to cook regular meals or cook a big spread for a house party. . While the brand expression had to have a distinct character, the user experience of the app had to be extremely intuitive. Aarts worked with the foodtech startup and helped the brand strengthen its brand positioning. This, coupled with the service, allowed the startup to break into the UAE market with its chef reservation service.
Building successful brands with empathy
Over the past six years, Aarts has been able to script many such success stories for businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to major FMCG brands across the globe. With a full range of services – from branding to identity creation, from warranty design to package design, from UX strategy development to user interface design and development – Aarts helps to empower brands at all points of contact. “We pride ourselves on building successful brands with creativity, determination and empathy,” says Aashirwad Gupta, the founder.
Taking the title of Chief Creative Officer, he explains why empathy is as important as creativity in defining impactful brand strategies. “Every business is the child of someone’s dream and efforts. And I realized that if you are not in this person’s shoes, you will not be able to truly understand their challenges and aspirations. This is where empathy becomes fundamental to building the brand. Aashirwad shares. He points out that Aarts’ focus on “empathy” helps them improve their creative play and think outside the box. “If you are empathetic, you are driven to solve the challenge for your client, like you do for yourselves,” he says.
Breaking down perceptions
While today Aarts has successfully positioned itself as a global design and branding studio, it has been a difficult journey. Aashirwad says one of the first challenges was establishing brand credibility, as Aashirwad was not trained in design but was driven by an inherent understanding of the subject. Second, they were based in Indore and not in a metro. “After I finished engineering and worked in a company, I realized that I was not made for engineering but for design. At the same time, since the age of 18, I designed logos for brands and helped them gain a foothold in the market. And that’s where my strength and sensitivity were. So when I decided to create a design studio in 2015, I was already aware of the needs of the market but at the same time I knew that it would take a lot more to establish my references just because I was not coming from a design school, “he explains. So at first he consciously took on projects that didn’t translate into good income, but would help him build a strong portfolio. The strategy worked in his favor and within a year he was able to win Giani’s project and soon after he was able to buy another big FMCG brand – Patanjali.
The second challenge was their base of a Level II city as opposed to a metro, in which case companies often wondered if Aarts could really execute on branded projects. “However, working in the first few months with many companies and then following up with recognized brands in the industry spoke for us,” says Aashirwad. Here he notes that their online presence through their website has provided a window into their work. “Potential customers can see our promise in action. We have published some of our case studies and shared our offerings in depth. And, the sleek and neat design of the brand’s website is an indication of what we’re standing for, ”he says.
Benefits of .in
Aashirwad says choosing the .in domain extension in hindsight and being able to position Aarts as a global design studio based in India has had its advantages. “We were able to get a lot of big brands based in India that were meant for brand expression like global brands but understood the Indian market,” he shares. In addition, they were also able to capture the market interest of global brands who were looking to work with Indian design studios. “In terms of talent or work, some Indian studios are on par with the rest of the world. But, for a fraction of the cost of what they would otherwise have to spend if they opted for design studios in developed markets, ” explains Aashirwad.
The .in domain extension is particularly beneficial for a startup or a new business, says Aashirwad. “For a business that is just starting up or is in the early stages of growth, resources are limited. It needs to be used judiciously in areas like product development, talent management and even branding or marketing, ”he says. Since building an online presence isn’t negotiable, investing in a .in domain extension does a lot of business here, especially if the company is looking to gain attention in the domestic market. “You can build the brand’s website on an .in domain at an affordable cost, which is a big plus for start-ups,” he says.
The National Internet Exchange for India (NIXI) helps many businesses across the country obtain a .in or .Bharat domain. Businesses of any scale and size can benefit from a .in domain with the help of NIXI. It is affordable and can be used in over 22 languages for businesses from all parts of the country.
As an entrepreneur, Aashirwad says he’s never been optimistic about growth. “At the beginning, when I decided to move from engineering to design, I wanted to prove to myself that I could pursue the dream I had set for myself,” he reveals. This led him to work with a limited number of clients but to create a good portfolio. When he realized he could take the business to the next level, he decided to form a team. “Today, we are a team of 16 people. It might be a small team in terms of numbers, but we’re making quite an impact. We closed the 20-21 fiscal year at Rs 1.5 crore of annual revenue, ”he shares. Aashirwad says he still firmly holds the view not to evolve disproportionately. “The measure of success is impact rather than scale for Aarts,” he said.
The series “Shaping India Inc’s Online Growth” chronicles the journeys of startups and SMEs in India and how the creation of an online presence in the .in or .Bharat domain has fueled their successes.