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GOING DOWN THE MEMORY LANE: PUTTING PEBELS ON THE MAP

Just like ideas can strike anytime and anywhere — while coding hunched in front of a laptop screen, during a client meeting, or in a small shuttered space that you would like to call your office — opportunities come a startup entrepreneur’s way just about anytime. This is the story of how we bagged our first big break that brought us to our first successful campaign as a full-service creative design studio.

Where It All Started: Getting a Brand on the Move

The feeling of accomplishment on finishing your first project as a startup team is priceless. But celebrations and revelling would have to wait as there was more work to be done and a bigger cat waiting to be belled. The cat came to us in the form of bus stop branding, a genre none of us were familiar with at the time that Ninjacart told us of their plan. The state of confusion about whether we should take up the project or not was only a byproduct of inexperience, but there was no lack of courage to jump up and grab a challenge by its collar. And this quality of our team came to the forefront when we accepted the bus stop branding project.

Having worked as a part of user experience teams in the past, we wanted our campaign to hit the right spot amongst Ninjacart’s target audience. That was also what was holding us back. Getting the pulse of the user is a tough task and when it’s through bus stop branding, it requires ample experience to get everything right. Anything from the legibility of the font or the design can make or break the entire effort. And we had a little over 48 hours to get it right. We weren’t about to become the cat’s dinner, and so we set out for a recce to explore and understand our model, Bangalore’s bus stops!

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When you have a design studio, having a skilled artist on the team pays off big time. So it did for us when we decided to make a miniature prototype of a bus stop to show it to the Ninjacart team. After a few roadblocks, including melting thermocol on trying to stick it with Fevibond, errors in measurements, and keeping up with our full-time jobs (where else will the funds come from!), we had a prototype ready just in the nick of time. It looked exactly like a newly built bus stop in the city and the ninjas loved it so much that they admired it from every angle possible and even took selfies with it! Our second campaign saw daylight on almost 45 bus stops. And phew, what a feeling it was to see it in all its glory!

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The Glamorous Onions: Pebels on Print

Over the last two projects, not only did our team grow stronger, but we also developed a great rapport and a strong bond with the Ninjacart team. This was the time when onion was being sold at the price of gold. Well, not literally, but the city’s onion supply had taken a hit due to incessant/insufficient rains and it was being sold at unbelievably high prices. It’s true that the greatest thoughts and discoveries are nurtured during hardships, and the ninjas had a eureka moment for a groundbreaking mass campaign to sell a kilo of onions for Rs.1. The medium of the campaign? It was time to go on print.

If you have a faint idea about advertising, then you would know that print advertisements can cost lakhs of rupees. To be trusted with something so huge was undeniably an honour that Ninjacart had bestowed upon us. However, our thoughts then were if we could meet, let alone exceed, their expectations. When you work in an ad agency, you can get away with a few mistakes while delivering a campaign. Our experience working with ad agencies in the past had taught us that quite well. It’s an entirely different ballgame when that agency is your startup and you’re responsible for everything you do. Gulp!

For this campaign, our models were, you guessed it, onions. We decided to churn out a design with stock photos of this invaluable veggie. If you’re thinking why we didn’t click pictures of real ones instead, let us remind you that their prices were skyrocketing (the reason behind this campaign, remember?). The sample stock photos of the onions we used turned out to be too “glamorous”. So we worked with more realistic ones, like the ones you would use every day, finalised the design, and sent it to The Times of India. We had butterflies in our stomach waiting for the next day’s newspaper.

It was a priceless moment to see our ad printed bold and beautifully on the lower half of the newspaper. Our debut campaign on print for Ninjacart was an instant hit and there was a flood of business for the ninjas and their delivery boys. We ordered a kg as well using the ONION promo code (same pinch if you did too)! After this campaign went live, Ninjacart was all over social media for all the right reasons. The campaign had a great impact on Ninjacart’s business as it got the company more than 20,000 new customers within a span of two to three days. The whole idea behind a campaign is to get a brand closer to its customers. To be able to do that for our very first client was the turning point in the story of our startup.

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BRAND STORY OF LILO- WEARABLE DEVICES FOR KIDS

Creating a brand logo is no child’s play, but it sure is a mix of equal measures of challenge and fun. If you are a graphic designer or someone who has worked on branding ever in your life, then you know what we mean. This is the story of the behind-the-scenes of creating a brand logo from scratch, and our protagonist here is Lilo.

One of our friends, who is also a designer, had recommeded us to the the Lilo team. The stakes were high as we had shouldered a responsibility that came with high expectations. However, the folks at Lilo were quite apprehensive at giving us the project — perhaps beacause we were newbies without much to flaunt in our portfolio (which would change once we designed the Lilo logo). Their apprehension at first did hurt our egos. But when it comes to creating memorable designs, ego is not included! So began the brainstorming, and boy did we impress the Lilo team with some fantastic designs!

How the Balloon Came to Be

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Lilo, short for “Little Locator”, is a startup making wearable devices for children. The basic tenet of a children’s brand or its logo is that it should click with kids of all ages, including toddlers and those a little older. The logo should be loveable, colourful, and curvy with no sharp or blunt edges. Using this approach we shortlisted three designs. The idea behind one of the designs that stood out was based on our wordly observations.

If you’ve travelled far and wide, you would have noticed how Chinese tourists move in large groups. You would have also observed that their tour guide holds a coloured flag for easy visibility. Intelligent, isn’t it? This was the first observation we latched on. The second was the use of huge hot air balloons at events, which are visible even from long distances when lit. The idea of using balloons in the logo stuck even deeper as kids (and adults) love them.

It’s quite common on Indian roads to see balloon vendors doing rounds with colourful helium balloons, especially hovering for a long time around vehicles with kids for a guaranteed sale! And who doesn’t love helium balloons — it’s quite magical to see one floating in the air! So we wrote the name Lilo and placed a balloon in place of the “O”. To make it more attractive we designed the balloon with a hanging string that gave an impression that it’s let loose in the air and on its way up. The folks at Lilo loved this concept and there weren’t any further iterations on the design. Did we hit the bull’s eye in the first shot? Read on.

Did You See the Puppy?

Serendipity is a beautiful word and it is more so when it happens to you in real life. A serendipitous occurrence happended to us and that’s how we found the puppy. Okay, we won’t leave you scratching your head now. The Lilo logo design we had created looked like an adorable little dog. If you didn’t quite notice, you can check it out once again; go ahead, we’ll wait. Now that you’ve taken another look at it, doesn’t the balloon resemble the dog’s head and the “LIL” of Lilo the body? The serendipitous incidence that made us figure that out was a power cut, when the bright laptop screen with the logo on display was the only thing all of us could see in a dark room.

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So to enhance it further and make the design perfect, we made a few more adjustments. First we cut the string holding the balloon so that it would resemble a dog’s face more clearly. Next we applied the golden ratio to modify the shape and design. Being one from the graphic design clan, you would know that this is the tool to use when you want to be on the creative level as that of the great artists, such as Leonardo Da Vinci or Salvadore Dali. Did you know that even Apple’s logo uses the golden ratio? (You knew? Ping us to join our team!) With the few modifications done, we had a transformed logo ready.

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There’s No Turning Back

Although the logo was ready and was an instant hit with the Lilo team, we hadn’t hit the fish eye yet. We had the Lilo investors left to impress and convince. If you’ve had anything to do with startups or had your own, you would know that they are a different breed of people and not that easy to convince. But our preparation and confidence in the logo we had designed kept our morale high and steady. So we presented the transformed version of the logo with perfect dimensions and there was no turning back! That was the turning point in the history of Pebels. We had successfully delivered our second logo project without iterations and in turn made our Lilo logo the benchmark and the golden standard of creating future logos.

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Working together as a design team and brainstorming on uncharted territory made us grow and do great projects together. It was a learning curve for all of us involved. Every logo has a story — of the brand, of the things that go behind coming up with a skeleton sketch, and the final design. The entire process of creating a logo is a fruitful journey for all the creative minds involved. Have you been on one such journey or want to join the bandwagon of storytellers at Pebels? We would love to hear your story.