Raw Mango

Other Campaign

Aposematism is when animals take on visual characteristics to signal that they are venomous in an attempt to ward off predators. Bright acidic colours are a common manifestation of aposematism and became the starting point of our narrative for Other.

The idea should cost less than 10 rupees,” Sanjay joked. Through Other, we learnt the importance of frugality; relentless editing and abstractness became our approach for the campaign.”

Founder, Sanjay Garg, challenged us to find meaning in aposematism that could live beside Raw Mango’s brand language. True to the brand, the idea needed to be simple while creating maximum impact; “the idea should cost less than 10 rupees,” Sanjay joked. Through Other, we learnt the importance of frugality; relentless editing and abstractness became our approach for the campaign.

Apposematism: A poison dart frog. Image source unknown.

While Indian nostalgia is a prominent visual device for Raw Mango, surrealism lives as a silent pillar. The label’s first published photo was of Sanjay’s sister with her face painted in the Raw Mango’s primary colour: forest green. Another campaign, Cloud People, imagined a community of cloud-worshipers with painted faces. Iconography and symbolism are abundantly clear to the informed. Antique deity figures litter Raw Mango stores, and symbolic inspirational imagery is plentiful on its social media pages. Even the inspiration for the campaign’s ceramic eyes came from a bronze statue lying on Sanjay’s office desk. 

“While Indian nostalgia is a prominent visual device for Raw Mango, surrealism lives as a silent pillar.”

Raw Mango’s Cloud People, 2017 photographed by Ashish Shah.

Sanjay Garg and Now Form founder Vikramaditya Sharma directed the campaign photographed by Shubham Lodha in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. We also worked with musician Sid Vashi to create custom music for the short films shot by Vikas Maurya and edited by Akash Sharma.

Now Form created all the graphics and collateral for the campaign, including a custom animated typeface. We also designed and coded a responsive and interactive web experience that ran for the campaign’s duration. You can view the website here.

We designed a custom typeface and frame-by-frame animation for the collection title, Other.
We directed short films by Vikas Maurya and edited by Akshay Sharma. Musician Sid Vashi made custom music for the films.
We designed and developed a responsive and interactive website that ran through the duration of the campaign. Users could click and drag to experience a 3D replica of the Jaiselmer landscape while the eyes followed the user’s cursor. We also optimised the experience for mobile. 

Other had a polarising effect on viewers and quickly went viral. Many viewers found the images grotesque and scary and accused Raw Mango of going too far. However, a large audience found the images pathbreaking. Istituto Marangoni, Director, Diana Marian Murek shared an Instagram story with the caption “maybe the best campaign ever”. Every major publication in India wrote about the campaign, including non-fashion publications such as The Times of India, Indian Express and the Hindustan Times. 

“Istituto Marangoni, Director, Diana Marian Murek shared an Instagram story calling the campaign the best campaign ever.”

While we didn’t intend to shock our audience, we did intend to challenge a fashion campaign’s limits (in an Indian context). We achieved our goal of creating a conversation that questioned the vernacular of contemporary Indian design and fashion. 

Screenshots of Diet Sabya’s Love/Hate poll

Truth, Lies, and Secrets: a brief history of privacy

Our design strategist, Shivangi Tikekar moderated a talk for Ashoka University on cryptography and digital privacy. The seminar by MIT and Ashoka University professor, Debayan Gupta explored the history of privacy and security as well as the dissemination of information, its impact on our daily lives, and how emerging technologies have revealed new ways to use data for good or ill.

Note: The thumbnail image is by Berlin-based artist and researcher, Adam Harvey. The piece titled CV Dazzle explores camouflage from face-detection technology.

COVID-19: What’s next for creative businesses?

The Coronavirus pandemic is a black swan event that has crippled the world economy. 

While some sectors (retail, hospitality, travel, etc.) will bear the brunt of it, the pandemic will affect us all. 

In these difficult times, IIM Ahemdabad’s CCBP (Creative & Cultural Businesses Programme) held a hopeful virtual discussion predicting the repercussions of COVID-19 on creative businesses. 

Here are the summary points from our discussion:

1. Businesses will need to go digital.

2. It is essential to recognise that digitising business isn’t just creating a customer-facing channel (like an e-commerce website). A future proof business will be one that can digitise different parts of their process and increase efficiency through technology. For example, how can retail companies use technology to empower their manufacturing/labour workforce?

3. Creating technological solutions/strategies for India’s labour force will have a transformative effect on the country’s future.

4. Businesses of the future will be more localised and will bring their manufacturing on-shore. 

5. Businesses should consider decentralising their supply chain to account for contingencies.

6. The coronavirus will have a dramatic effect on buying patterns; we hope to see people favouring sustainability and ethical products.

7. A shift in consumer sentiments will have a positive long-term effect on India’s craft communities. With a rise in demand for sustainable and ethical manufacturing, the Indian economy can benefit from our craft workforce. It is, therefore, fruitful for Indian businesses to align themselves with ethical production and empower craft communities.

8. There will be a shift from wellness to wellbeing. People will prioritise a more wholesome lifestyle over occasional wellness breaks.

9. Business travel might reduce, but there might be an increase in leisure travel. Travelling for personal wellbeing, to spend time with family and friends will become more common. However, due to the immediate paranoia surrounding international travel, it is predicted that people will prefer travelling domestically.

10. Coronavirus has had an impact on citizen surveillance in China. Similar surveillance measures might become more common across the world. Discussions and policies on the ethics of digital monitoring need to start taking shape. We should also become familiar with the impact of surveillance on International Relations. 

Pranoy Sarkar

Pranoy Sarkar is a prominent Indian photographer, with an extensive fashion portfolio. His clients include Torani, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Raw Mango, Tarun Tahiliani, and Good Earth.

Pranoy approached Now Form to design his digital portfolio. We opted for an unadorned interface which showcased his work without cropping or compromising the photos.

The stories page features a seemingly straightforward grid; however, achieving a responsive asymmetric grid with virtually no cropping was a technological feat. The content management system also simplifies content upload and reorganisation of content.

candi Solar

candi Solar is a dedicated commercial, and industrial rooftop solar solution installer, financier, and operator geared towards SME’s, family-owned businesses, and schools across Asia and Africa. With an affordable payment model, short contract period, and easy installation/ de-installation, they leverage the vast untapped rooftop potential in these underserved sectors to free up capital for SMEs by lowering their effective power price.

Recognising that sales agents were making false promises about the product in order to make a sale, candi approached us to design a short video for their third-party channel partners and sales representatives to present to potential customers. They needed a fool-proof video that could streamline the sales process by clearly and accurately explaining the solution and its benefits to prospective clients.

“The demonstrative and visual approach of the video also avoids any potential language barriers by aiding comprehension for a predominantly semi-English speaking customer base.”

We created a short, illustrative video that combines text, animated graphs and graphics, and drone footage to clearly highlight candi Solar’s unique offerings. The demonstrative and visual approach of the video also avoids any potential language barriers by aiding comprehension for a predominantly semi-English speaking customer base. Accompanied by an explanatory voice-over, the video serves the purpose of being transparent, informative, and easy to understand.

China India Foundation

The China India Foundation is a not-for-profit working to increase mutual understanding between the people of India and China through policy-making, cultural and people-to-people exchange. We worked with CIF to create their brand identity and digital language.

“A type-only logo felt like the right choice for being unbiased and apolitical.”

China India Foundation is a non-profit organisation with the mission to increase mutual understanding between the people of India and China by creating avenues for collaboration, building people-to-people exchange, and strengthening the capacity for cross-cultural engagement.

The organisation is for students, academics, policy practitioners and business people from India and China.

The relationship between India and China is sensitive; A type-only logo felt like the right choice for being unbiased and apolitical. Even the countries in the name are sequenced alphabetically. The variation in line weight found in traditional Asian calligraphy inspired our serif type logo.

Gender & Sexuality in the Digital Age

Technology has allowed us to expose large communities to liberal narratives instantly and effortlessly. By designing more inclusive digital experiences, we can increase social tolerance through mere exposure. With a few lines of code, we can begin to challenge archaic understandings of gender and sexuality, and years of patriarchy. The right digital interventions can even challenge governments to consider a new and transient world order — what a time to be alive.

What does this reform look like in practice? As a digital architect, I work very closely with large enterprises. We were recently approached by one of our banking clients to revamp their customer-facing website. Unsurprisingly, market research showed that Indian banks perform poorly on accessibility and inclusivity. In the digital world, large banking companies rarely have a voice. With more and more companies turning to natural language (conversational copy), a digital persona has become a mandate. Can we find ways to make these personas more inclusive and empathetic? Via social media, blogs, chat interfaces, and on-site content, companies providing essential services can reach millions of users. With the correct language and content, they can help positively change the narrative for marginalised communities.

Companies employ personas to communicate with their target audience. According to a survey by Jay Walter Thompson Innovation Group, 80% of Gen Z (13–20 years old — born between 2006–1999) believes that gender no longer defines a person as much as it used to. This shift in gender perception shows a need for institutions to build diverse personas. Brands like IndiGo, Hubspot, and Capital One have shown us that having a point of view humanises companies and thereby instils a sense of trust. By creating inclusive and accessible services, companies can increase their customer base and build brand loyalty. With estimates of the global LGBTQ spending power at $3.6 trillion ($117 billion in India), enterprises have an opportunity to create valuable and lasting alliances by embracing diversity.

Capital One is a rare example of how companies can play an essential role in shaping society. According to Kris Dunn & Shane P. Singh, subconscious exposure to diversity can create positive perceptions of diversity. They refer to this normalisation of difference through exposure as pluralistic conditioning. For a second, let’s imagine being confronted with a form that puts Ms. before Mr. on a dropdown. Now imagine a dropdown that covers a spectrum of genders (HSBC is one of the few banks which provides ten gender-neutral title options). What about a form that allows you to include two parents of the same gender? Or photographic content that celebrates diversity? For an American same-sex couple settled in India, this is good user experience. For a teenager in rural India, struggling with their identity, this is recognition.

HSBC is one of a few banks that provides numerous gender-neutral title options.

Most banking chatbots use a female as their logo/icon. The gross stereotype of a female assistant has been digitised. Capital One is one of the few banks that uses a non-gendered chatbot icon, and if you ask it its gender, it will reply, “non-binary”.

HDFC India’s female chatbot logo (left). Capital One’s gender-neutral chatbot logo (right).

The Siri on my iPhone has a male voice. It has been the subject of numerous discussions with my friends because it always catches them off guard. Having a virtual assistant with a female default voice is so normalised that we forget to examine its implications. Have you questioned why Alexa, Cortana, and Siri have female names? With the nascent adoption of voice assistants and chatbots, there is still time to course-correct and build inclusive technology. We should start by noticing how digital tools around us have adopted physical, societal conventions and hold companies accountable for embracing these antiquated norms.

It is essential to recognise the reach of enterprises; the cumulative impact of micro-changes by these ubiquitous giants can radically transform the cultural environment surrounding us. Because of limited exposure, many people write off ‘non-traditional’ gender and sexualities as abnormalities. Introducing a spectrum of genders and sexuality to daily life, through channels such as digital-banking, can increase the acceptance of non-binary communities.

Being aware of underlying bias can orient us to question institutional processes. Awareness can also help us incorporate changes in the organisations we interact with.