With the changing times, the ways we communicate are changing too. Web messaging apps are all the rage now. While they are just what the doctor ordered for casual communication with friends and family, are they also suitable for business-related communication? No, is what we think.

Quite often we have customers sending us messages on WhatsApp about what changes are required in their current project or their review confirmation. We always request them to email their input to our support staff and our clients always oblige. While it is undisputed that it is most convenient for any person to quicky pick up the mobile and send an instant message, business functions need some work, out of the comfort zone, for common good.

Here are a few reasons why we encourage business communication through email than via WhatsApp or any other IM.

 

  • Archival/Retrieval/Search issues: A lot of our official work involves around tracking the past communication. With emails, we have separate folders for clients and a robust search mechanism. We take backup of our emails from the email client and hence it is secure. On the other hand, saving/searching messages, photos etc. is tedious on WhatsApp. We have different subjects for emails; but there is no such mechanism on IMs. Emails provide organization of messages and attachments according to sender, date etc., which makes searching easier.

 

  • Colours on WhatsApp can be misleading: In the creative media business, we exchange images/graphics more often than any other industry does. Infact, ~30% of our emails have pictures as attachments. Some customers request us to send the graphics on WhatsApp for review purposes, if they don’t have their email on their phone. But we again request them to check the photos on their emails as well before suggesting any changes about colours/contrast of the graphic. The reason is simple. Colours in graphics are rendered differently by different electronic devices. The way colours are rendered on mobile devices, especially when sent over IM, is significantly different from the way they are rendered on standard Windows computer screens or Mac. Such variations in appearance may have adverse effects on the final output, and lead to an output that that has a large deviation from the output that you expected.

 

  • Loss of picture quality: A similar issue bothers us when photos are sent to use via IM for updating the website or Social Media. WhatsApp’s image compression algorithm leads to loss of quality of the image. These inferior quality images cannot be used for work. Since we want to ensure high quality pictures for our clients marketing, we recommend images to be sent over email.

 

  • Email offers more security: Mobile devices are more vulnerable to adversaries (can be broken into) than email accounts. Remember every time we install an app, we agree to share a lot of information stored on our mobile and other apps used on the mobile. Exposing business-related communication to such threats is a bad idea.

  

  • Better to keep business & personal apart: Since WhatsApp is largely used for communication of a personal and casual nature with friends and family, using WhatsApp for business-related communication also can at times end you in bloopers. Imagine you have sent a casual forwarded joke message to a client who never expected that from you.

 

  • Multiple threads not easy to track: Say if you have one part of the communication through email and another over WhatsApp, how do you refer to both? When you are using email all the time, you have an option to refer to an old email and even send another email as an attachment. It is counter productive to have one communication thread running on WhatsApp and another on Email. Additionally, the longevity of WhatsApp archival & recovery is not proven.

 

  • Phone memory problem: All the attachments that you receive via WhatsApp are stored in your phone’s internal memory. When the memory is full and you need to flush out the unwanted contents, if you are not careful then you run the risk of deleting your business-related contents. Even if you are careful, the task of filtering business-related contents from others can be tedious one.

 

  • Device gone, access gone: If you happen to lose your phone, then until you get a duplicate SIM card, your WhatsApp account becomes inaccessible. Laptops and computers rarely have such risks.

 

  • Cannot CC: Having to send a message or attachment to multiple parties is a routine affair for every business. WhatsApp does not give you the CC facility that emails provide. 

 

  • Cannot Print from Whatsapp: Printing an email for record purposes is a simple and common procedure across the globe. What to do when we have some parts of communication in email and some over Whatsapp? We have to send the Whatsapp chat via email and then take a print out. Not a productive thing to do for hundreds of clients, isnt it?

Whatsapp can be a good tool for Sales teams to keep in touch with customers and prospects and for follow ups with other internal teams. But as far as communication with customers is concerned, Emails still are the best mode of communication.

The use of pictures in advertising is common since they convey the message better than text does. And not just that but also when a customer can relate himself with the brand, it is more likely that he would like to associate with it. Therefore, businesses use photos that people easily connect with. For this to be successful it is important that the photos used in the advert exhibit cultural and ethnical connect with the people of the place where the marketing is carried out.

While the big businesses have the luxury to produce proprietary imagery for their marketing, all small and medium businesses have lesser options apart from internet stock photos. Businesses in India are no different; but the challenges that we have in finding stock images are of a different nature from rest of the world. There are plenty of websites that offer stock photos of Indian faces and ‘India’ theme, but most of them come with issues. We see that customer acceptance to using Indian Stock photos is a challenge for more than one reason.

Being in the media development industry for Marketing, we often see that Indian stock photos need the following improvements.

 

  • Variety in events: Stock photos will be needed for a large variety of situations. In the current stream of stock photos, we do not have the luxury of variety. It could be a girl child playing with clay, or a teenager rolling on a skate or a housewife doing some household duties or a middle aged man spending time with his family – options are way too less compared to that of an American face.

 

  • Addressing India’s diversity: One of our clients wanted the photo of a tamboola in their marketing collateral.  In many parts of south India, especially in southern Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, tamboola is a popular gesture extended to any guest who attends a function; it is a package of beetel leaves, betel nut and a coconut/fruit. Unfortunately we don’t have a single stock image website selling such photos. We had to click it ourselves when we needed it for a project.

India is a country of many countries within. Its diversity is unmatched anywhere in the world. While Ganesh Chaturthi and Deepawali are popular in most parts of India, Yugadi, and Varamahalakshmi are more exclusive to South India. While Mysuru is busy in Dasara, Durga Puja spreads colours in West Bengal. While photos are abundantly available for the more popular festivals, there is a scarcity of photos for the less popular and region-specific festivals & occasions. Also, photos of people wearing various region-specific Indian attires, and in various popular locations across India will be needed. Somehow, Indian stock photos are not available for such needs of customers.

 

  • Quantity: More than 17% of the world’s population is from India. Also, India contributes heavily to the market shares of many industries. For example, India stood as the third largest market for smartphones in 2016 after China and USA. This means, not just Indians, but people across the world are likely to search for Indian stock photos as they want to sell their products in the sub-continent. There is a global demand but weak supply. We simply don’t have stock imagery that represents many of us.

 

  • Price Control: Photos are exorbitantly priced on Indian stock photo websites. The high prices act as a deterrent to small-medium businesses looking to buy stock photos. To give an idea, searching for ‘Indian School Kid’ on a more general stock photo platforms like 123rf, istockphoto or shutterstock gives you photos that cost INR 250 to 500 for a medium-quality 300 dpi photo. The average price of a photo of similar quality on another website, which is exclusive to Indian stock photos, is INR 11790! One can easily see the huge difference in pricing. Typically, small and medium businesses allocate a budget of INR 10, 000 – 30, 000 for building their websites. Buying Indian stock photos with that budget is unfeasible. If the pricing is made reasonable, there is a huge customer base that can be tapped into.

 

  • Quality: To give you an idea about the quality of stock photos specific to India, below we present two images. The first image is a stock photo for the search ‘School kid’. The second image is a stock photo for the search ‘Indian School Kid’ on the same website. The price for both is around INR 200 to 300.

We see that acceptance of such Indian stock photos by our clients is low for a simple reason that they are not creative and conveying like the others.  The quality of photography is not being on par with the other photos makes the possibility of picking Indian stock photos weaker.

 

What is the solution?

This is not a simple problem to solve. Some ideas that pop around this issue:

  • Making a community effort to encourage professional stock photographers from all states of India to click and share photos from their homeland showcasing faces, food, festival, clothing, places, etc. This would address the diversity part.
  • Once there is abundance in supply, competition will increase leading to price crash and improved quality.

It would be great to have a discussion on this very forum. Your views please.

We often meet clients who ask us if they can use an internet image for their logo. They find it convenient because a random image on the internet that closely reflects their thought can be acquired with least effort. In some cases, people recreate a google image or imitate it to claim that it is original! However, none of these will help build a good brand.

A casual google search for images on any topic will return thousands of images. In fact, there are millions of free logo artworks available too! But, if you are thinking about using any of those for your logo, then we don’t encourage you do that. Here is why we say it is a bad idea to use images from the internet for your website and logos.

 

  • Ethically wrong: Ethical conduct is one of the most important ingredients in the core values of most successful companies. A lot of time, money and creativity is spent in creating a logo. Using the works of others with no regard to their efforts puts a huge question mark on your business ethics. Do not compromise on your core values at any cost.

 

  • Copyright infringement: Copyright laws protect the owner of the image against theft, and anyone who wants to use a particular image will need to take prior permission from its owner before doing so. Otherwise, the consequences can be serious for you. In case you want to use any free images for a non-commercial purpose, you need to be careful in choosing those which are not protected by copyright.

 

 

  • Reputation is at stake: Your company’s reputation is something that you never want to compromise. Do not fall into illegal practices and tarnish your company’s reputation. Big corporate companies pay a lot of attention to the companies they associate with and business ethics matter a lot. If your customers or prospects visit your website and see that your logo is an imitation of another, it will give them a lousy impression about your company.

 

  • Logos have more than one meaning: Logos aren’t what they appear at the first glance or the straight look. They can be tricky. A logo can have different hidden meanings when seen differently. It is possible that your logo can mean differently to different people. If you just pick a nice image from the internet without paying attention to any different message it would possibly send, then you end up in a risk!

 

  • Your Logo must be unique: It is the face of your company, and is the first thing appears in the minds of people when the name of your company is mentioned. So, it is important to create a customized logo that reflects what your company stands for. Using some random image for your company’s logo will deprive you of the opportunity to have a logo that is customized and reflective of your company.

 

  • Imagine your logo is same as another! :  If you have taken the logo from the internet, the same image may be used by another person too. Now imagine, that your logo is same as your competitor with just a name change! Scary, isn’t it? Also, following the law of Karma, if you have taken someone’s logo, someone else can also copy your logo and you will have no legal hold over it since it is not your intellectual property. If you have an original logo that is copyrighted, then one may not dare steal it due to fear of legal consequences.

 

  • Not costly to create logos: With a bit of research, you are sure to find companies that provide logo designing service at reasonable and pocket-friendly rates. The advantages that professionally created customized logos provide easily outweigh the money you spend on it. Typically small-medium sized companies, start-ups, emerging brands and event organizers spend anyway between Rs. 7000 and 12000 for a corporate logo design.

 

In the technological arsenal available today, internet is massively ubiquitous and influential. No company that takes its business seriously can turn a blind-eye to this fact. One of the most basic ways in which companies can make use of the internet is through websites.

Here, we provide 20 compelling reasons why you should have a website for your business:

1. Adds credibility: 75% of customers judge a company’s credibility based on its website design. A carefully designed website gives the impression that your company is trustworthy, well-established, and professional to your prospective customers.

2. Increases visibility: With more than 2.4 billion people using the internet every day, the internet is teeming with activity and is perfect to gain global exposure. Your website puts your company on this stage and helps your company receive the spotlight.

3. Customers are on the internet: The market is where the buyers are. 90% of internet users make an online purchase, or contact a company annually. A website provides you the opportunity to tap into the big online market.

4. Online brochure: A website is a great place to talk about your company, and the products and services your company offers. With 60% of people visiting a brand or product website to find relevant information about it, your website can become your company’s most effective spokesperson.

5. Communicate updates: Whether you are introducing new products and/or services, expanding to new regions, or updating your existing offerings, a website is a fast and effective way to ensure that the updates get maximum reachability.

6. Attract new customers: With 60% of people visiting a brand or product website to find relevant information about it before making a purchase, website is a great way to convert such prospects to customers.

7. Testimonials: Your website is a great place to showcase the satisfaction of your past customers to prospective customers, and persuade them to trust your company. Testimonials act as certificates for your promises and reputation.

8. Portfolios and galleries: Your past accomplishments speak volumes about your company’s credibility, and are the most powerful trust-building agents. Your website can host portfolios and galleries which are effective ways of showcasing your accomplishments and capabilities.

9. All around the clock access: The internet never sleeps, and neither can your business. Your website allows you to be always there for your customers, no matter what time zone they are in.

10. Global visibility: Your website puts your company on the global stage, allowing people from any part of the world to get to know your company. In a globalized world, the global visibility that your website provides is crucial to stay competitive and grow your business.

11. Branding: Your company’s website can play a major role in enhancing your brand and making your brand look bigger and more appealing to your customers and prospects.

12. E-commerce: With a revenue of $30 billion in 2016, the booming e-commerce market in India is expected to reach a staggering $120 billion in 2020. An e-commerce website opens up a host of opportunities for your company such as the ability to sell your products 24/7, reach-out to new markets globally, and provide buyer-convenience.

13. Save money: Your website can help you save money by reducing your expenditure on customer support by hosting frequently and commonly needed resources such as FAQs, external links, product information, contact information, and so on. When customers can find information online, your information/help desk receives lesser calls.

14. Improve customer service: Your website can become another channel for your customers and prospects to interact with you. By providing support information like FAQs, product manuals and technical documentation, online resources, and enquiry forms on your website, you can improve the ease of doing business for your customers.

15. Receive feedback: You can use your website to receive feedback from your customers through feedback forms. Feedback is extremely valuable in helping you improve your customer service and in gathering new ideas.

16. email@mywebsite looks professional: Having an email address of your own company will provide you a professional image and makes it easier for your website’s visitors to remember the email address. Your website can also host other additional contact information like social media, other branch phone numbers, etc.

17. Connect via blogs: By incorporating blogs in your websites, you can talk about your expertise, educate customers, and promote your latest offerings. This heavily contributes to your online brand visibility.

18. Social media integration: Your website can convert your company’s social media presence and popularity to business. The prospects who visit your social media spaces can be redirected to your company’s website to make them your customers.

19. Link to apps: If your company has apps built for various mobile platforms, you can provide links to these apps on your website. Your website can help in increasing downloads of these apps and in gaining you a tech-savvy image.

20. Track traffic to assess market share: Your website can help you come up with better business-strategies by helping you assess the traffic on your website. Insights on distribution of traffic across various geographical regions, age groups, hours of the day etc., can be gained through your website.

While the best things in life come free, that’s not always true with technology.

With more than 50% of CMS-based websites running on WordPress, it is undoubtedly one of the most popular platforms for conventional business websites. Customers often inquire with us whether to choose a paid theme or a free theme for their websites.

In this article, we discuss the pros of free themes and paid themes to help you make an informed decision. Read on to find out which type of themes are well-suited to your needs.

Free themes

Let’s look at the pros of free themes to help you decide if free themes are your cup of tea or not.

  • It’s Free: Free themes are a good choice if you are working on a limited budget. You spend absolutely nothing to get this theme working of you!
  • Freedom to experiment: Free themes offer you the freedom to experiment with several themes, and see which theme gives you the most satisfactory results. Once again, you won’t be afraid of experimenting because you have spent nothing on it except for time.
  • Ease of replacement: Free themes, unlike paid themes, do not have too many unique features and it is relatively easier to replace one free theme with another. Some common features like posts, pages, widgets, ordinary sliders, etc are available with almost every theme and you don’t lose much when you replace one theme with another.
  • Simplicity: If you are going to make a simple website that needs the most common features, then paid themes may be an overkill. The best part of free themes is that you can quickly put up a simple website with very little changes. For any additional requirements, you can get free plugins.
  • Light and fast: With only the most basic features put into them, most free themes are light and helps in faster loading of web pages. But, if there an overload of usage of additional plugins with javascript and additional CSS, then the loading times with take a hit.

Paid themes

You get what you pay for is ancient wisdom. Here are some significant advantages of paid themes.

  • Uniqueness: With paid themes, your website is more likely to be unique in design. This is due to a simple reason that far fewer websites are built on paid themes.
  • Ease of use: Paid themes are usually bundled with plug-ins like visual composer, revolution slider etc., that help you build designs quickly, easily, and creatively. Not just that, but you also get excellent documentation about each of these products. Hence is makes building uniquely creative websites far easier.
  • Frequent updates: Like any software, WordPress themes do have security flaws, and are prone to security attacks. Hackers on the internet are always on the lookout for websites with such security loopholes. With paid themes, such loopholes are addressed from time to time via theme and plugin updates from their respective authors. Some times, these updates also cover additional features and bug fixes if any. Regularly updating your theme will help in minimizing security risks and gaining advantage of newer versions.
  • Ease of customization: Paid themes offer plenty of theme options, and are easier to customize. For example, simple changes like changing the color of a menu, or the background, or the font can happen at the click of a button without much of CSS changes.
  • Support: A paid theme comes with technical support from its author, usually upto 6 months. You may subscribe for additional support as required. This will be helpful if you are facing any problems with the theme or you need programming support in enhancing any of the features in the website.
  • Compatibility: As and when WordPress updates are released, your paid themes receive updates as well from their authors. Paid themes have compatibility with most plug-ins on the internet, and will serve a great deal for catering to your changing business needs. Compatibility of paid themes extends to more browsers compared to free themes.

How to decide?

Now, you can decide whether you want to subscribe to a free theme or a paid theme by answering the following questions:

  1. Is uniqueness of your website a top priority? (For many businesses it may not be. For some businesses it matters a lot!)
  2. Do you want your website to be compatible with many screen sizes beyond the conventional screen sizes of laptops and smart phones? (Have a deeper understanding of your target audience and how likely is it that they use devices beyond a mobile or laptop)
  3. Do you need a high level of interactivity on your website? (Example: Chat facility)

If your answer is YES to at least one of the above questions, then paid themes suit your requirement better.

Google.com commemorated the birth anniversary of the Hindustani poet Sri. Munshi Premchand in its own style.

This caught my attention for a very special reason; because this resonated with my long time thinking around “how better logos can be designed in Indian language scripts”? In the past 12 years, I got a few opportunities to symbolize Indian virtues in a text/logo graphic. But most of the times, the requestor would ask me to type a text in English and use the font that has a Devanagari flavour to it (something similar to what Google has done). Their intent was probably to keep the readability going smooth in English while we also have some desi touch to it.

I have a different opinion about this for 2 reasons; one- we have unlimited scope to experiment with various Indian languages and there is no reason to be trapped with this idea alone; two- Devanagari script alone does not represent all Indian languages. Many scripts like those of Odia, Gujarati or any South Indian languages do not have a horizontal line on top like Devanagari has. I felt, we should not be contended by just limiting our work to using a font and calling it desi; in reality it would not be. There in unlimited, untapped potential lying in each one of our language scripts for enhancing our creative expression.

Have you seen the green coloured G series Big10 buses in Bengaluru?

Cool! But it is less likely that you know the fact that the logo has Big written in both Kannada and English characters. (Tilt your head left by 45 degrees to see the Kannada script; must laud Mr. Ashwin Mahesh for the creativity). That is interesting, isn’t it?

As a designer one question that always haunted me was: “Do we have to think of logos using English script alone?” Since all our businesses run mostly in English, it is very common that we end up thinking concepts in English. But off late there is an increasing trend of naming the firm in Indian languages. This is where the untapped potential of Indian scripts gets unveiled.

There are many ways to form a logo: –

  • Having a meaningful graphic (agnostic of script) and combine it with a normal text reading the firm name
  • Just have a unique font to write the firm name and play with colours and text alignment
  • Have the text with company name (characters) altered to accommodate a meaningful graphic within it and you don’t have to type the name of the firm separately (or in some cases you may also have to do it if the graphic only has acronym of the firm name)

While we have plenty of logos in the first 2 categories in Indian languages, I would like to discuss the third category in this article.  A text-altered logo graphic in Indian scripts is extremely popular in the film industry where film names have creative shapes formed with the respective language scripts; but the popularity span of these logos is much short lived compared to those businesses whose products/services are consumed for many years.

In the last 2 years, I was gifted with some opportunities to spread my wings in this sphere. The first logo where I could partially get such an idea going was for the firm Namma Stage. While designing this logo, care was taken to retain the readability in English to the maximum extent, in addition to having a hint of Kannada in it.

The second opportunity I got was in the form of Abhijnana. In this case, the client wanted the Sanskrit letter “अ” as a part of the logo.

All this while our graphics were not exclusively made in any Indian language as it always had English characters accommodate Indian scripts in it. When the proprietor of SiriMugil Enterprises asked for his company logo to be designed, he also expressed a desire to make a creative shape out of the Si and Mu Kannada letters. This is when we were destined to make our first ever 100% English free graphic! (Please see that the neck of the swan through the head forms Si (ಸಿ) and Mu (ಮು) is formed with the feathers)

I am personally thrilled about the fact that I am a contemporary of this trend. I would love to see what other experiments are happening in different parts of India to bring 100% exclusive graphics in Indian languages. Please share those wonderful logos that you have seen in Indian languages.

Updated on July 3, 2017:

We are glad to update this blog with a latest success story of creating yet another 100% Kannada logo.