“It's said, the most impactful ideas are often the simplest ones” - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

Yughandra Dalvi of Elephant Design, says, understanding the consumer; understanding the portfolio/product and its competition, and building a simple and captivating design narrative with the above information, is the essence of her approach to work. Read more in this Sunday Column

16 Jul 2023 | By Noel D'Cunha

How would you describe the feeling of winning designer of the year award in Women to Watch Awards 2023?
I feel extremely exhilarated to be receiving such a prestigious award. PrintWeek and WhatPackaging? magazines have become the lifeblood of the packaging design and printing fraternity, and I'm excited to have won an award hosted by them. Also, it feels really good to get my name counted among women creating a great impact in the packaging design field. 

What are the three mantras for designing which can captivate the audience and also deliver positive results for the brands?
It's said, the most impactful ideas are often the simplest ones. My approach towards work can be summarised in three simple steps: Understanding the consumer; understanding the portfolio/product and its competition, and building a simple and captivating design narrative with the above information.

What impact does packaging design have on consumer behaviour?
A good packaging design almost always evokes the right emotions in the consumers' minds. It must influence the consumer to pick it up from the shelf, indulge in the product's storytelling and eventually add it to their cart. And if the packaging story translates into the actual product experience, it helps the consumers create a strong association with the brand.

What are the areas for innovation in packaging?
The advent of Gen-Z consumers into the market and the fast-paced tech disruptions create ample opportunity for innovations in packaging. First and foremost, sustainable packaging is the need of the hour and innovations in this area would not only do good to the planet but also help brands establish a green-connect with their consumers.

Connected packaging, I.e. creating a bridge between the physical packaging and its digital story, could create a more immersive brand experience. And finally, experimentations with new inks like UV curable or lead curable inks could further help extend the sustainable packaging story.

How does one keep in mind the quality of the substrate and its printability while designing?
The quality of the substrate and its printability are directly proportional to the complexity of the designs. If the substrate is of high quality, a designer always has the liberty to experiment with intricate designs, effects and colours.

What is your most interesting project that you worked on?
There are many such interesting projects I have worked on in the past, but the most recent one is Wicked Gud. It's a healthy grain pasta brand. The pack had two major tasks to accomplish - getting the millennial parents' attention and uniquely narrating the product benefits.

We broke the standard packaging conventions and designed a pack with two fronts to leverage our design concept - two sides of the coin symbolising the dichotomy of health vs taste. We beautifully narrated it by treating one side as conveying pure emotions while the other narrated more functional and nutritional information. 

We also played with printing techniques to achieve vibrant neon colours and an out-of-the-box exclamation-shaped window. This exclamation mark became the brand's defining asset, infusing excitement into the category. The design has gained a roaring share of voice from the customers and the design fraternity. WickedGud won the Silver award in the visual packaging design category at the BW future awards. We also implemented design systems for different categories, maintaining colour consistency on various substrates, from cartons to standee pouches to sachets.

How much do you think shelf appeal is important?
With so many newer brands entering the market and newer categories getting defined, a brand's packaging design must create a shelf appeal that breaks the clutter. And keeping up with the latest trends and trying our newer innovations in packaging will help brands achieve it.

What is your take on automation in design?
AI in design is still in the disruption stage, and the new normal is yet to be defined. But at large, automation is helping designers simplify everyday tasks and empowering them to deliver faster. The key is to keep yourself updated with newer AI platforms and befriend technology for your benefit. 

What are the most profound changes the pandemic has brought to the design industry? Do you think some of these changes will be permanent? If yes, what would be those?
The biggest boon the pandemic has brought to the design industry is collaborations. Today it is very easy for a design agency to hire an employee or gig artist from anywhere. It simplifies talent acquisition and builds a strong global cultural premise. Secondly, as the world came to a standstill, technology saw a huge spike in innovations that facilitated collaborations and led to fast-paced growth in AI. Thus technology is supporting these new changes the design industry is witnessing. We have triggered permanent changes, and things will only evolve from here on.

And finally, brand differentiation has gone down the drain over the last ten years. How does Elephant stand out? After all, it's quite easy to lose the plot. Which is the compass you refer to navigate change. Share with 2-3 examples.
Over the past decade, India has seen a big spike in consumerism, which has given rise to many new entrant brands and start-ups. Faster go-to-market and rampant expansion of product categories under the brand has led to quick-fix design & branding solutions. In such times, designing something that "looks good" or designing something to appease the client are the most accessible options to fall back upon to keep the business booming.

At Elephant Designs, we believe in the process of designing we have built over the past three decades and the results it has garnered for various legacy as well as new entrant brands. So our process has certainly been our north star to date. Secondly, our expertise and experience in catering to various industries over the years put us in a position of a brand custodian.

Examples - PB, Wicked Gud as start-ups, MTR and Tata Sampann as big established brands.

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