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Brand Strategy, Design Strategy

Human beings are built on connections. Think about how many connections the human body alone has!. And then think about how human beings cannot survive alone. We are built on methods of communication – within and without; millions and millions of them. And without them we wouldn’t be able to process anything.

Now think about food. What does it really take for us to wholly enjoy the process of eating food? Once again, millions of connections. But where do these connections start?

For us it began with Sanctuary Architects reaching out to us to collaborate on developing the Brand for a restaurant they were designing for a top notch Client. This came to us as a pleasant surprise. Weaving brands and spaces was home to Zeitgeist, but now we had the opportunity to showcase our talent alongside Anshul Chodha, principal at Sanctuary – and this was more than appetizing!

Digestion is the process of breaking down food for the body to use as nourishment – this is not far removed from the process of collaboration, for healthy design.

THE EYES – The Visual Appetizer

Have you ever heard of the saying ‘we eat with our eyes’? Perhaps you are starving, perhaps you’re not; but your eyes are the first impulse driver for you to want to devour good food. For a designer, the same can be said of well crafted design.

On a massive floor plate sitting atop one of Bangalore’s most prestigious buildings, Anshul’s design direction for the restaurant was reflective of the expansive cityscape that lay ahead. Magically lit gabion walls exuded strength in connection, and his well conceived travelling walls spoke of a global Pan-Asian story. Though it is usually the other way around, the space lay the foundation for Zeitgeist to visualize the brand at break-neck speed. It set the direction for the Brand’s name and visual identity. It also helped us immensely as we created photorealistic renders as imagery for the final output for the space. There was so much to absorb, just with our eyes.

THE MOUTH – The Provocative Main

Did you know that way before food even enters your mouth, its aromas create a saliva producing reaction to enable the breaking down of it upon entry? The chewing then takes care of the rest. This too is the tale of powerful design collaboration before market entry. Just like the body’s preemptive intelligence to break down food, design intelligence comes from multiple communication exercises and touchpoints through the design process, before its final output.

As Sanctuary began to weave design language to invite the market into a powerful spatial experience, Zeitgeist worked toward expressing the brand to reflect the importance of it. What were the languages, expressions and words we could use to express the combination of this luxurious business and its spectacular design direction?

Multiple conversations with the Client brought us to the point where we understood that the brand name needed to be simple enough to pronounce in a multicultural context, without losing its positioning in the market. As we ingested more and more information about the Client and the collaborative process that lay before us we began to lay out structured steps to arrive at an integrated solution for the Client and our Design Collaborators.

THE STOMACH – The Sweet Satiation

The stomach does two things:
1. It acts as a holding station for food
2. It also facilitates the breakdown of food for the body to absorb nutrients

In the same way, Sanctuary created a holding station for the Client and we drove the nutritional breakdown of its offerings. The interiors express urban Pan-Asian luxury through its use of materials and large expansive openings. The interesting and carefully designed seating nudges a sense of grandeur, while the well defined spaces offer privacy based on mood and function. The brand’s design and development aimed to tie the interior expression into the Client’s vision for the business – an upmarket, luxury pan-asian restaurant. Together with the Client, Zeitgeist decided on the name Kaze – meaning ‘wind’ in Japanese – and developed its visual identity with airbrushed swirls of purple and gold to evoke the feeling of royalty, gently moving in the breeze. The menus were adapted along the same color palette, with added graphics to distinguish the bar menu from the food menu, and content was reorganized to enhance user-friendliness.

Just like the body processes food, together we imagined an experience that would be enjoyable to digest – one built on cohesion, collaboration and connection.

Madhuri Rao
Founder & Chief – Design Strategy


Brand Strategy, Business Tips & How To's

If your company were a human being, its brand is the element that would be most reflective of its soul.

It is this ‘soul’ that presents your company with the opportunity to stand apart from the rest. It is this ‘soul’ that forms the basis of all that your company stands for and wishes to portray to its customers. It must shine through.

Executing this is not a simple task and often the best way to go about it is to hire an expert in the field – a brand consultant – to help you develop the identity of your company and then communicate it.

But how do you choose a brand consultant? How do you find one that is a good fit for your particular company? This article gives you some points to consider.

Background and Ways of Working

Do some research to determine the background of the consultants you are considering. What are the kinds of brands they have worked with in the past? Do you feel that those brands represent similar values and design aesthetic as your own? What can you learn about their ways of working? Do they seem flexible or does it appear that they are driving a core design intent across all the brands they service? Do each of the brands they service stand apart in their own right? Reviewing a few of the brands they have already worked with will help you to quickly determine this.

What are the processes they employ to help you with your brand’s development? A visit to their website is likely to provide you with those details. Check to see if important practices like brand development workshops, where the client is invited to participate in a transparent process, a brand audit and industry R & D form a part of their ways of working.

Your Brand’s Requirements

Are you a startup? Or are you at the stage where you’re looking at expanding your brand globally? Perhaps you’re considering rebranding after your company has been in existence for a few years. Your brand’s requirements should also play in role in choosing a consultant. For example, a boutique firm might be able to offer you niche services either in terms of expertise or geography, while a global MNC would be better to help with the development of your brand at a global level. Does the agency offer a brand audit so that you can jointly make an accurate assessment of where the brand is positioned today, before determining the direction it needs to go in?


Most brand consultancies were started by people who have come to be known for some aspect. What’s the agency you’re considering best known for? Is it their networking ability? Their expertise in one particular industry? Do they mostly work with the branding of consumer goods or B2B clients? Such questions can help narrow down your options. What are their existing clients saying about their services? A good place to start your research would be social media sites, especially LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and Google Business listing, where clients’ ratings and comments would be available. Of course, there is nothing like having a chat with a client who has already worked with them.

Stage of Brand Development

If you’re looking at developing a new brand strategy or revamping an old one, perhaps looking at going with one of the big guns of the industry may make sense as a one time investment for strategy.

On the other hand, if your strategy is in place and it’s execution you’re looking for, which you can drive yourself, choosing an upcoming firm with a good reputation may make more economic sense. In either case, do make sure you meet the people you will actually be working with, not just a representative of the firm.

In a nutshell, choosing a brand consultant really boils down to matching what your brand’s particular requirements at this stage in its life cycle are with what the various firms can best offer you.

Branding services form a part of Zeitgeist’s holistic approach to designing and managing innovative ideas from inception to execution. You can see some of our work, including brands we have worked with, here.

Gitanjali Singh Cherian
Marketing Manager


Brand Strategy

A brand is not just its logo. It is an identity; a personality. A ‘brand’ is what makes a consumer your customer. It is an experience that needs to be designed. But how does a design agency take it all the way there?

Imagine a really complex game of Pictionary mixed with Taboo… I think that would be a good way to describe the process that takes place between a designer and a client while developing a brand.


One of the first things designers need to do while developing a brand is to understand their client’s vision – by asking questions.

How well a designer is able to assimilate their client’s vision lies in their ability to ask well-crafted questions and to be a good listener.

With reference to the comparison drawn before, a client meeting could sometimes be that part of the game where all the right words you want them to say are taboo. The only way you can guess is by drawing them out for your client and the only way they can respond is with more non-taboo words!

That can get irksome.

So, here are some ideas on how to ask questions while developing a brand’s identity. The Internet of course is everyone’s resource-base, but this article will help you make those questions smarter and more tactful. 


1. Human beings are storytelling creatures. We are drawn to memorable personal narratives, which always makes it a good idea to start with your client’s story. How was their business born? What motivated or inspired them?

This will give you a real insight into their earnestness for their project. It will also open your client’s heart to trusting your process and sharing with you uninhibitedly, throughout.

2. Not every client may have exemplary imaginativeness; therefore it is up to your questionnaire to give them the platform to communicate their thoughts effectively.

Situation questions are the most fun, brilliant way of doing this. Here are some question examples:

   –  Do your customers belong to certain a age/demographic?

   –  How would you describe these people?

   –  Where are they consuming your product?

   –  SIf you were to overhear someone describe your brand to another person, what do you imagine they’d be saying?

   –  In what setting did you picture these two people talking?

   –  What words do you never want associated with your brand?

   –  Situation questions are the most fun, brilliant way of doing this. Here are some question examples:

   –  If you had to choose an actor/actress to play the character of your brand, who would it be? Why?

   –  Imagine your brand were a period in time; what would it be and why?

3. Questionnaires can sometimes sound like exams that incite a feeling to answer ‘correctly’— and that’s not very useful. This typically happens in a casual conversation: ‘But don’t you think…’ or ‘You want it to look… right?’ To reiterate, asking leading questions is a bad idea.

4. But on the other hand, do keep in mind the subtle difference between leading and clarifying questions. The latter is a good practice when reinforcing important points spoken about earlier. So make sure you establish the intent of your asking.

5. While it is valuable to ask for preferences in colour or motifs and such, make sure to ask your client to not get too fixated on them. Since the actual making of the logo happens much later in the process, a designer wouldn’t want to feel restrained by things like colours.

6. Be conscious of what you assume. If your client owns a business for progressive farming techniques, they may or may not want to use the colour green or have a leaf in their logo. It’s good practice to always crosscheck.

7. It is important to know when it’s pertinent to use either an open-ended or a close-ended question. Here’s a personal example: I’d asked, ‘Do you have any thoughts for your company tagline?’ and all I got was a flat ‘No’. It might have been more helpful for me to have put it this way: ‘What feelings would you like your company tagline to provoke in a customer?’ and then followed by ‘Do you have any existing ideas for one?’

8. A section of the questionnaire should just be devoted to juicing out adjectives and as many descriptive phrases as possible. Sitting together and jotting down an expansive pool of words that can be ascribed to the brand is a remarkable exercise for getting those creative juices flowing!

9. One might not always feel the same passion they felt when they were first struck with their idea. Hence, asking your client to answer your questionnaire in a certain setting can be a great way to bring that feeling of passion back to them!

You could suggest an isolated cubicle in their busy office or answering it right after they’ve come back from a vegetable store (for example, if their business is about organic greens).

To make things more stimulating, you could conduct your interview in the place where the client first came up with their idea or any environment where they feel most zealous about their brainchild.

10. Finally, leave scope for things you might not have been able to predict you wanted: ‘Is there anything else that came to your mind while answering this questionnaire?’ is a great way to end.

Remember, the right answer might just be the right question away!

Pahi Gangwar
Graphic Designer