Automotive brands in India: A matter of pride, passion and purpose

What should be the attitude of an automotive brand in the context of the ndian subcontinent? Regional economy and people needs drive the way automotive brands emerge and behave.

03 Jul 2015 | By Ashwini Deshpande & Ashish Deshpande

World over, automotive brands have stood for finesse, luxury, high-end functions, if not more than often, for speed, power and vitality. In India, a majority of transportation solutions serve the purpose of work commutation, people and goods transportation, and most importantly, as a means of livelihood. Whether global or Indian, automobile brands get a cult following and people take pride in the badge of their choice.
It is important that brands are targeted towards the people who are going to be experiencing them as products and services. Brands need to reflect their aspirations, connect with them on an emotional level and build confidence by associating positively.
People like change not due of its novelty but because the change speaks to them. When brands connect, they tend to ease into the mind space of the users. Connect in such cases is not just a seasonal trend, rather, an endearing sense of attachment.
When a vehicle becomes your lively hood, people look for answers on more than one axis of their lives.
Our design team was faced with a challenge to create the visual identity with all its manifestations for Eicher Polaris, who recently launched India’s first multi-purpose personal utility vehicle. The answers lay in understanding people who would use these vehicles. The progressive Indian entrepreneur has no concept of boundaries as he is often multi-tasking between personal chores and business needs. He is living every moment and making the most of it.
This range of vehicles is named Multix reflecting its extreme versatility aligned with the users’ lives. As a ground-up innovation, Multix is designed as a concept that brings about a positive multiplier in the owner’s life, be it home, business or power.
Multix brand is inspired by the local regional concept of “zindagi multiplied” (translates as life multiplied) as a visual language clue. The badge has been designed as a perfect geometry, and has layers to discover and identify with the person for whom the vehicle will be a livelihood partner.
At the first glance, it is a happy bloom in cheery yellow, which is also the primary brand colour. It also serves as an elegant enclosure to the multiplier symbol, which is the essence of this brand. Multix brand is designed to be an enabler for unlocking and multiplying potential opportunities resulting in prosperity for the target consumer.
Typography is clean emphasising high functionality and contemporary outlook. Yet the lower case “m” starts the conversation on a friendly note with emphasis on technology and ending by reiterating the multiplier effect. The colour palette is largely built around bright colours evident everywhere in India. They add to the noticeability and celebratory appearance of the brand.

Let’s look at another commercial vehicle brand. Global powerhouse, Daimler Benz wanted to enter the expanding mid- and large- commercial vehicles segment in India with a range of trucks. This business segment in India needed a brand that connected with the local people. Users in this category talked about “pride of ownership”, looked to connect with something larger than the business and be cutting edge.

As a company, Daimler Benz wanted to build a new set of trucks that were tailor-made for Indian conditions and users. The new brand had to communicate this very thought behind these new vehicles.

The answer again lay with the way people saw the brand highlight over a score of well-settled existing truck brands. The word, “Bharat” (India) brought around a sense of pride with the commercial vehicle operators, made them feel special that a truck has been created for Indian needs. “Benz” infused that sense of technical expertise and confidence of a global brand.
Bharat Benz typestyle demonstrates expertise and is contemporary with an emphasis on the word Benz. The badging is a balance of legacy of shield and wreath from the older Benz identity and clean circular forms representing the global nature of the brand.

A decade back, when the two-wheeler major, Bajaj Auto changed its livery, it reflected the concerns of new leadership and was created to connect with the 'youthful and younger' consumers. The change of the brand identity from the hexagonal B to the “flying B” reflected a shift in the consumer age, aspirations and ideology behind the products. However, the change never threw away the 30-year old legacy of brand creation.

The “flying B” was extracted from the same hexagon of the old symbol. The logotype was expanded from the earlier condensed bold, lower case font, with letters reflecting a human dimension with new rounded letter ends, and a sense of direction. Blue, the brand colour was changed to a fresher and younger interpretation of the same colour.

The next time you re-look at an automotive brand in India, look from the eyes of its users’, feel from their heart and understand how they see their future reflected in the brand of their choice.
Elephant is India’s Best Design Practice (ET-Brand Equity 2012-2014 ranking) with a multi-disciplinary experience of 25+ years in India and Singapore and has been transforming brands, organisations and businesses using Design-led Innovation.
Elephant has helped build two significant automobile brands in its rich history of 25 years; rebranding of Bajaj Auto and then a distinction of being the only design consultancy outside Germany to have created a new brand for Daimler Group called Bharat Benz for their India-centric trucks. Multix by Eicher Polaris is the newest bloom and makes Elephant perhaps the only team in India to have three automobile brands on the road.
Ashwini Deshpande is a visual communication designer, co-founder and director at Elephant. An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, she is a prolific speaker at several international conferences & workshops on design. Ashwini has been a jury on Spikes Asia, Design Lion Cannes and Design for Asia Awards. She is a subject expert on Brand Identity Programs & Package Design and known for her highly effective work for Britannia, Paperboat, Nirlep, Grindmaster, P&G and Piramal Industries.
Ashish Deshpande is an industrial designer, co-founder and director at Elephant. An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, he is a keen Design Thinker, a member of India Design Council & Jury for India Design Mark. He has worked on several design programs, notably, Titan Eye+, Bajaj Auto, Probiking, Ceat Tyres, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Krusty's, Symphony, Paperboat amongst others.