Where are the numbers?

Note: The next few posts of mine are going to revolve around Kyoorius Design Yatra 2013 held last weekend in Goa. It was fabulously inspiring and made me think a lot about design, design in India and the reasons behind the colossal gap between design in India and design in the rest of the world. A lot of what I took home from the conference was positive- there are things we can do, directions we can take, to make design occupy a more important place in our country. To those of you who weren’t able to make it, I’ll try and add links wherever relevant. 

From beginning to end, the speakers at Designyatra took us through phenomenal examples of work that made the audience’s eyes open wide in wonder. A few of us, from time to time might even have felt  a pang of envy. These were examples, which when looked at on the surface seemed like a combination of trusting clients, massive budgets and overflowing creativity. When I thought about this a little more, read deeper into the projects and looked back on the presentations, something jumped out at me- Almost all the speakers who’d worked with big brands and had crazy success stories had something else- they had numbers. At least one or two slides in their presentations had statistics that showed the success of the design- sales that had doubled, footfalls that had trebled, interaction on social media with numbers going through the roof. These numbers made us believe. These numbers gave us faith in design’s ability to transform businesses, to engage users, to impact society.

And I thought, is this what’s missing in India? Design is fairly new to a lot of clients and they still need to be convinced that design makes a difference. Which is perfectly fair. They’re asked to pump crores into rebranding their companies with a promise that it’ll turn around their business. Do we expect that they take our word for it? Is it fair to expect that? Why are we then surprised that some of them just don’t see the value in it. In the two years that I’ve been working, I haven’t (not once) been taken through proof that design produces results. And I have asked. Why do designers not bother with finding out whether or not their work (and here I speak of brands) has actually changed anything? Why are we content with merely having finished the project?

Which got me thinking- Is our lack of solid statistics one of the reasons why clients don’t quite buy into the value of design? Design in India is young and often clients aren’t entirely aware of what design can do. Perhaps it’s time for us to prove it. It can’t be all that hard.

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One thought on “Where are the numbers?

  1. When we got talking about this piece, I asked Brand Strategist Shilpa Colluru how realistic I was being in suggesting that designers find a way to measure the success of their work. Here’s what she had to say:

    So this is how it works. We sell them branding by telling them that a brand in not just about beautiful design but about how it is a reflection of the business and the company. And then we do an analysis of how the company is seen today and how it should be perceived once the branding is complete. We ask them for their short term and long term goals. If we are doing as much, I think we should include a certain measurability into the project. Saying, yes we complete the project in Jan 2013, but let’s regroup and see what and how the brand is doing in July 2013. If it is going the way it is supposed to be, great. If not then maybe there needs to be some course correction. This actually will make an agency ensure that what they are delivering to the client is actually what is needed by them. And should things not go as planned, the agency should be humble enough to accept the fact that they hadn’t expected or anticipated certain changes in the brand/market but are willing to help in the course correction. And I’m not saying one should do this for free. Work it into the cost of the project and follow up to ensure this is done. This will only make clients have more faith in the branding process and understand its value. They have numbers for everything and so why not this?

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