It wasn’t long ago that an upcoming handloom apparel brand, CharkhaPair, approached us to help them launch their brand online. This was one of those opportunities where a brand didn’t just approach us to provide a specific service but was actually reaching out to us to design their end-to-end communication strategy – which just happens to be our favourite thing to do.
At the time of First Contact (which is what I refer to as the first moment a potential client gets in touch with us) CharkhaPair only had a bare-bones website to offer us as a glimpse of their brand identity and the kind of products they sold. We were to design not just their website and communication but also carry over their brand identity into packaging design and concepts.
We started out by examining their website and products on offer and reworking the way they presented their brand online. Since no one knew of CharkhaPair at this point, we were quite clear that we wanted the website to focus on telling the brand-story and thus building the brand. This is why we suggested a ‘Brand First, People Second’ approach to the website.
Since CharkhaPair’s USP was ethical, handcrafted fashion, we suggested designing an interactive story for the front page of the website that takes the user through the step-by-step process the brand follows to create each and every one of its products – right from when the cotton is picked to when the final product is hand-sewn together, labelled and shipped out.
To take the handmade aesthetic forward, we suggested packaging that brought out the handmade, artisanal and sustainable ethos of the brand. We recommended the use of traditional embellishments and hand-printed motifs on the packaging.
Among the options we suggested was one where we used the brand and logo elements as a motif across reusable cardboard packaging to establish brand identity.
We also proposed the idea of using Kutch embroidery on reusable bags made out of linen or cotton. By adding tags and labels with slightly frayed edges and hand-stitched boundaries, we drove the ‘handcrafted’ message even further home.
On social media, apart from posts directly promoting the products, we wanted to take a storytelling approach similar to the one on the website. One of the key post types we recommended were visuals of CharkhaPair’s products with labels that detailed the story of each of the elements that made up the product e.g. the kind of work on the product and the fabric. This would establish the brand’s sustainable ethic and serve as a visual ‘shortcut’ for the user that reinforces the brand’s values.
Since CharkhaPair’s design style was primarily based on its visual identity, we took this storytelling post a step further by dedicating one social media content pillar to the story of the kinds of handloom that inspired and influenced the brand. Apart from establishing the brand’s own identity, these also helped our audience learn about the stories behind local handicrafts and embroidery styles.
While CharkhaPair liked our ideas, the project did not ultimately materialize, but it gave all of us – Kant, Mutant and Valiant – the chance to work together to come up with a concept and a plan for three different, but necessarily connected, forms of communication. We may not have worked on this project, but defining its processes and the brand’s story definitely benefited our future work with 360-degree communication.