Design Stack: Telling Brand Stories Through Strategic Design

Anoop Patnaik &  Priyanka Bhasin , Founding PartnersThe right brand identity is at the heart and soul of great branding and positioning. For a premium Ayurvedic brand, Soul Tree, this rang very true. Despite having a strong brand name, a certified organic heritage and a story rooted in goodness, Soul Tree as a brand was not realizing its potential despite efforts at building distribution and consumer marketing. “When Soul Tree approached us, the first thing we noticed was the gap between the brand promise and its packaging,” says Anoop Pattnaik, Co-Founder, Design Stack. There began the hunt for not just better packaging, but a rebrand that captured the essence of the brand and created a design language and product nomenclature. The result was a packaging system that looked premium and told the brand story evocatively. Soul Tree was not only able to increase its pricing, but also grow its volumes impressively.

“Our approach is to dissect and understand the brand. This could be through secondary research, consumer dipsticks, key stakeholder ‘lighthouse interviews’, use of brand-mapping tools or critical brainstorming. We like to peel the extraneous layers around the brand to reveal the essence of the brand and then deliver design solutions that reflect and amplify that essence! A lot of what we do is based on the tenets of Design Thinking. Hence, our responses are not just graphic design led, but strategic in nature,” says Priyanka Bhasin, Co-Founder, Design Stack.

Possibly one of the biggest challenges facing Design Stack was the creation of a new brand identity for the banking behemoth State Bank of India, which it won after a multiagency pitch. “Here, the challenge and scale was huge. The existing equity was massive, yet the brand was not attracting as many younger customers as it would like. The challenge was to attract the new without alienating the old. The new brand mark and brand language aims to attract a wider audience through its compact and approachable design. The shorter version of the name SBI was used using a new font. The end result was a rebranding that was ‘instantly new yet instantly recognizable!,” says Priyanka.

Design Stack had its origins a little over a decade ago when two graduates from NID decided that they wanted to walk their own path. Since then, the journey has been one of continuous learning, which has allowed Design Stack to transform from being a design agency to a strategic design partner.
“Our rigorous process enables us to create long lasting solutions, and that’s one of the reasons why our clients keep coming back to us,” says Anoop.

Design Stack collaborates with senior brand strategists who have decades of practical brand building experience. “As a result of working with industry veterans, we have developed a comprehensive toolkit and process,” says Priyanka. The results are showing for the company. Apart from working with a slew of major brands, the company is also winning large new accounts across brand identity and packaging design. Some of the big names in Indian retail work with Design Stack.

Our rigorous process enables us to create long lasting solutions, and that’s one of the reasons why our clients keep coming back to us

Design Stack operates like a tight knit boutique firm.“For us,no project is too big or small. We evaluate each assignment on the basis of our contribution. This enables us to work across a cross section of clients and categories that help us build both our learning and our portfolio,” asserts Anoop. This thought process allows Design Stack to work with individual businesses, startup organizations, boutique businesses and giant companies with the same approach.

“All of us at Design Stack are very hands on kind of people. It’s important for us to get involved in every stage, which inturn results in clients getting a genuine personalized experience. More over, we value relationships over everything else. That’s one of the reasons why we have a bunch of clients with whom we have been working with for the past several years,” asserts Priyanka.

Towards the Future, Responsibly
The impact of this unique approach is reflected in the impressive roster of clients that Design Stack has won since these NID batch-mates started this journey 12 years ago. The company is fully aware of the responsibility & expectations that come along with this success, and thus handpicks its team with utmost care. While this evokes the feeling of a perfect environment for stress, it’s quite the opposite. The company has developed an impressively motivating & creative workplace that encourages employees to find their best version every day.

“We like to peel the extraneous layers around the brand to reveal the essence of the brand and then deliver design solutions that reflect and amplify that essence!”

Design Stack continues to diversify, while drafting plans to expand its operations. One of our senior brand strategists is based out of Delhi, which opens us an opportunity to expand our presence, with capabilities to offer personalized services,” concludes Priyanka. With its mindset that constantly looks for opportunities, Design Stack is strong on its vision to position itself in the major cities of the country.

Key Management:
Priyanka Bhasin, Founding Partner
Priyanka is a Communication Design graduate from the National Institute of Design. She has also done a program in New Media from the Vancouver Film School. With a strong foundation in design strategy and experience in emerging media, she setup and continues to grow Design Stack.

Anoop Patnaik, Founding Partner
Anoop graduated from NID with a degree in Communication Design. As an independent consultant with various retail and corporate brands, from ITC to West side to Sahara, he helped modernize their identities for an evolving consumer. He built and now continues to grow Design Stack.

Office: Mumbai

Offerings: Brand Positioning & Design Strategy, Brand Asset Creation (Visual Identity), Brand Expression and Brand Communication