ABND a mid-sized agency that evolved from calling itself a design agency to an agency that solves business problems through branding. Winner of India’s Best Brand Design Studio 2019, ABND is certainly a growing agency and a name to reckon with.
Medianews4u caught up with Kunal Vora, Founder ABND for a brief chat about the agency and the way forward, and yes about the intriguing name, ABND.
Tell us about ABND. How is it among the top ranked mid-sized agencies?
ABND is a branding company focused on business growth: this truly is our raison d’etre. Everything that we do is backed by research, consumer insights and competition study. Our methodology allows us to deliver accurate brand solutions to our clients. Most mid-sized agencies in our space are design-centric and lack strategy expertise, larger agencies have a good mix of design and strategy, but in recent years clients have chosen to go with smaller or mid-sized agencies like ours because of our partner-led approach on all projects. This gives them the comfort of knowing their project is in the right hands and not given to smaller teams internally. A partner-led project approach clubbed with a strong strategy arm and world-class design output makes ABND stand out from the crowd, making it one of the best in this space.
What’s with the name ABND? Any story behind the same? What does it mean?
A few years ago, when we decided to start a branding company, the first name that came to my mind was “A Brand New Day”. It was instinctive, yet it resonated with what we believed in, we were young, with a fresh new approach for branding, it was a brand new day for us as well as every brand that we create.
A Brand New Day became our brand name but over the years client fondly started calling us ABND for short. By 2017 we had evolved into a solution centric brand consultancy, we realised we were attracting projects that were not necessarily design-only and required in-depth brand audits and detailed strategies. Project briefs changed from design briefs to business problem oriented briefs, which we could resolve at a brand level. Around this time, we took a conscious call to rebrand ourselves in order to shed the “design agency” label.
We wanted our clients to know that we are a business growth focused brand consultancy, and that we use branding as a tool to increase profitability. At that point, a name change was necessary, and ABND seemed like the obvious choice. It allowed us to retain our existing brand equity and yet venture into a new direction.
How was ABND formed? Who are its major clients and what are the services that sets itself apart from all the competition around?
ABND was established by my partner Priyanka Shahra and I, with the vision of developing strong brands each day and building stronger emotions in the market. As a Branding firm, we love creating brands to represent what a company is, what it believes in and how it is perceived by its audience. We help companies find their essence and provide solutions that helps in developing a place for themselves.
FLAME University, Alembic Pharmaceuticals, Roche Pharmaceuticals, GMM Pfaudler, Grab, Sabka Dentist, Lavie, McCain Foods, Yash Birla Group, Precision Plastics, Ridlr, Sahiba Fashions, Sava Healthcare and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts are some of our clients.
More than the services, it is the process that sets us apart from our competition. We are sector agnostic, and have 50+ brands that we have developed entirely from scratch – and when you see our body of work, you will realise that no two brands that we have created are similar to each other. We don’t use formulas or cookie cut methods, each project is partner-led with a team that comes with a lot of experience. Fool-proof research, in-depth understanding, proprietary processes for brand naming and visual identity is what really sets us apart.
What according to you are some of the key/major challenges faced by agencies, and what needs to be done to overcome them?
Agencies have been facing a lot of changes over the last few years, faster than ever before. With constantly evolving technologies, methods and markets, successfully adapting to these changes can become difficult. Many branding and design agencies who were at their peak a few years ago have practically become obsolete as they failed to evolve, and at the same time newer agencies that started in the last 2-3 years are growing exponentially only because they easily adapt.
A global approach, constant learning, hiring the right talent, collaborating with other creative professionals, embracing social media, adopting newer methods and most importantly not following standard formulae has definitely helped us stay relevant and become stronger with changing times.
On a personal level, teaching has helped me overcome this challenge. I teach Branding as a subject to young college students and what I’ve realised over the years is that I end up learning much more from them than they do from me.
What are some of the learning that you bring to ABND from your time in Toronto?
I started my career as a Product Designer. While I was in Toronto I literally tried my hand at everything under the creative sun – product design, packaging, engineering and manufacturing design, branding, signage and way-finding, graphic and communication design. I was fortunate enough to work with companies that gave me the opportunity to explore different avenues. This really opened my mind, it helped me realise few important things – A creative individual is someone who identifies a problem and helps arrive at a solution. He does not categorise himself as a product designer, graphic designer or any designer, rather someone who can break silos and visualise solutions across all mediums.
What are the plans for this year for ABND?
In 2020, we are looking at expanding our team, we may even consider starting a second office in India. The focus is to hire the right talent, individuals who share the same passion for branding as we do. In 2018 and 2019 we attracted a lot of brand strategy, brand audit and brand creation projects from large manufacturers, engineering and B2B companies. We plan to capitalise on this trend by setting up a branding team specifically for such projects and reaching out to companies in these sectors.