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Meeta Malhotra, Founder, The Hard Copy, on why startups need to focus on brand design


For most Indian startups, brand design continues to be one of the most challenging areas. With the market getting more competitive and customer taste and needs changing rapidly, creating that perfect brand identity that resonates with people seems to be a far-fetched dream.

However, global companies like Xerox and Google have successfully created brand designs that have left lasting impressions on consumers, and their very product is known by the company’s name in the market.

So what is a good brand design in the Indian context? While it is difficult to have a perfect answer to how a brand can become synonymous with the company’s product, simple strategies hold the key. Meeta Malhotra, Founder of The Hard Copy, an online publication focussed on design, technology, and innovation in India, explains. 

The Hard Copy Founder Meeta Malhotra

Meeta Malhotra, Founder – The Hard Copy



Challenges of a good design 

According to Meeta, the Western Bauhausian principle no longer works. The Bauhausian principle of brand design means creating one’s own clean structures that merge arts and crafts. However, the connected world has driven that concept into extinction as consumers today find nothing unique in a brand that merely fits into the crowd. 

“In other words, if your logo, website, packaging, or social media image is just like any other Western company, your consumers will not be impressed. For settling into their minds, you will need something unique,” Meeta says.

Additionally, the first decade of the twenty-first century was all about having an accessible website. The second decade required startups to improve those websites to make them more user-friendly. And in the third decade, companies will see a group of customers who do not access the internet over computers or laptops anymore.

“Smartphone applications will have to be prioritised,” she adds. Thus, adopting one’s digital strategy as per the market will be the ultimate test for companies. Branding will crumble if the customers leave the site unhappy

Finally, in the last two decades, the core definition of the internet has drastically changed. If the past era was of the Googles and Bings of the world, now is the time for players like YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok. Social media has dominated the digital world today, and a company’s perception of social media will create its brand identity. 

“Are your posts witty? Do you engage in controversial battles? Is your CSR strong? Or, are your employees enjoying themselves? All these matter in creating your brand design, and your customers interact with you through comments, subtweets, stories, and videos,” Meeta explains. 

The secret to a good design 

A good brand design in the Indian context is not impossible. Companies like Flipkart, Paytm, Bigbasket, and BYJU’S have done it.

The secret ingredient that they added to their brand design strategy is serving their users what they want,” Meeta says.

According to her, one can create a good design keeping three things in mind. First, companies need to understand their customers really well. Designs change with the target customers, along with the mission statement, social media posts, discounts on offer, and the website or application format.

“Your customers decide your design,” Meeta adds. Even the face of a company should be someone whom the customers can connect with. 

Secondly, a brand must not dilute its focus on designing once the revenue flow begins, or sales grow. Brands need to hire the right people with the right expertise, and provide them with the right amount of time to define the brand. 

“Remember, once your competitors come to eat up your market, your brand design will help to keep your customers with you. Their perception of you will prevent them from migrating to another brand,” Meeta says. 

Finally, Meeta suggests that it’s almost suicidal to assume that one has created the perfect brand design. If a brand sticks with just one theme for decades, it will lose its relevance. A brand must modify its identity as per the customers’ changing tastes. “Maintaining relevance will ensure sustenance,” she adds. 

Thus, just like product design, keeping one’s customers on the driver’s seat and following them around will craft an overwhelming brand identity. 

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