As India’s design community grows from incubation into a hothouse for creativity, brand designers must stop and think – deeply, originally and imaginatively.

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In a culture with 22 official languages, amongst the most diverse cultures and religions, who inhabit at once some of the poorest areas and the most opulent areas of the planet, why does everything look hectic and yet look the same?

Many Indian designers panic and borrow creative ideas from traditional Indian culture. Colours. Patterns. Anything. They may pay scant regard to the cultures that created them. And yet that culture while still deep-rooted, runs counter to the aspirations of a dynamic, young India. This leaves audiences confused. 

Shahrukh Khan? Nah, Jay Z

India has grown up with the same faces adorning TV screens and billboards for decades. They are singular images of celebrity endorsement – the same star selling everything from toothpaste to food and furniture. Bollywood’s marketing promiscuity reinforces celebrity status and does not dent reputations. It also fails to inform and lead a new culture, instead it leaves a creative vacuum.

It is Jay Z you hear on the mobiles of slum kids, not Asha Boshle. The simple truth being that today, he has more in common with them.

1.1 billion people, 1x image

Global brands are created with a single belief or idea at their core. Indian brands and their marketeers, being heavily influenced by their western counterparts, have become obsessed with this singular philosophy. It’s only natural since younger generations have grown up on brands creatively directed by western cultures. Although unobtainable to most, young India is seduced by their ideas of freedom and expression. And India’s creative community continues to talk with one voice to all people. They worry whether headlines will translate, rather than whether the very idea itself will.

The Indian creative industry continues to pay homage to the West in its ambition to be world class, while a rich and textural culture lies on its very doorstep.

This is a remix

Some brands have shown they’re ready for change – but they’re only doing what India has always done. India has developed by remixing it cultures and traditions. India has taken the ideas of the West and remixed them to be relevant to the masses. Successful brands will be the ones that constantly remix to the needs of India’s people.

Take a look at McDonald’s. It has creatively remixed its business model to reflect audiences’ taste. Flipkart has remixed a successful global business idea by understanding the Indian market. Micromax has remixed the idea of branding by crowd sourcing its identity. Now there is a new world class about to be born. And it will be remixed by the Indian people.

A culture of chaos

With 4G about to roll out across the country, we will not only see entrepreneurs, engineers, bloggers and coders remixing ideas to create new categories of businesses and ultimately brands, we will see audiences turning from consumers to producers. A culture of everything will emerge.

The creative community needs to embrace the resulting chaos and be prepared to make mistakes with relentless optimism. But above all else it will need to abandon the philosophy of the single idea and create an entirely new approach, one this exciting, eclectic country deserves.

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