A one-word agenda: Minimalism
Three years ago, completely unaware of what the future had in store, Sahil Vaidya, along with his friend and partner Chirag Gander, while pursuing engineering at IIT Mumbai, started a Facebook page called The Minimalist, which addressed social issues in a witty and thought-provoking manner.
What began as merely a Facebook page, back in ‘college’, has now become a growing and successful design and digital consultancy — by the same name of course: The Minimalist.
The Minimalist is a design and digital consultancy that has now grown to aid brands in brand building, design and strategy, marketing communication, digital marketing and interaction design.
Having worked with over 200 brands including Fortune 500 companies of the likes of Coca‐Cola, Bloomberg and Abbott, The Minimalist has gained great traction on social media and developed a following of almost 200,000 people.
TVNEWS4U.COM’s Yohan PC, caught up with Sahil Vaidya, co-founder of The Minimalist, for a peek into the journey of engineering graduates who went on to start a successful design agency, learning about and from challenges, opportunities, their future agenda in India and across the world, and more.
Describe The Minimalist. And your vision for it.
The Minimalist is a design and digital consultancy that aspires to be known globally for its unique ideas and thought leadership. We currently function under 3 business units.
Our Branding and Communication arm works closely with companies to craft their brand strategy, vision and mission, and eventually brand identity which is communicated via ads, ATL and BTL activities, video content, etc.
Our second business vertical is Digital Marketing, where we work with companies to manage their social and digital presence including conceptualizing and executing digital campaigns, media buying and planning and also lead generation.
Our third business unit is Interaction Design, wherein we help companies with their User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) design needs. We have been working on developing apps, web based systems and products, as well as voice based products.
Having completed 3 years, we have worked with over 200 brands including Fortune 500 companies, leading corporates as well as promising startups. We envision this constant and stable growth to establish ourselves as leaders in the industry.
What led to the inception of the agency?
Our interest in creating thought provoking work led to the start of The Minimalist.
My partner Chirag and I co-founded The Minimalist in 2015, while we were engineering students at IIT Bombay. In spite of being engineering students, we both had a knack for creative thinking. Chirag was passionate about designing, and I about writing. When we got together, we often came up with designs and content that would get people to think.
The traction and interest our work received in the digital space was quite high, which resulted in numerous inbound queries about the work we, as ‘The Minimalist,’ were doing, that is when we realized that concept of Minimalism had great potential. There was a huge demand for positive provocative work as it got people to think. This is how ‘The Minimalist’ started as a design and digital agency.
What have been your key learnings in these three years of business?
Being actively involved in business growth and strategy, I have come to learn that eventually it is all about sales. It is very important to focus on your pitch, positioning and how you sell your service. The rest will follow. Creating that great first impression is important and conveying that you have the substance and expertise to deliver is equally necessary.
Secondly, hiring the right talent is an important part of growth and success. At The Minimalist, we have always focused on hiring talent that is better than us. We have always hired those who have excelled in what they do, and are subject matter experts. All of our business heads bring an experience of at least 11 to 12 years.
Being a young team, we also believe that having mentors to advise us in the business is very important. Hence we have set up an advisory board of experts which consists of Sourabh Mishra, Debasis Sarkar and Samarjeet Singh – who have played a key role in the growth and success of the organization.
Being one of the youngest founders of a successful agency what are the challenges you face while getting new business?
There have been myriad challenges over the last three years. Every day is a new challenge. At the beginning, a major challenge we faced was establishing ourselves as an agency with the capability to take on huge projects while studying. However, today we are well established and come across as a very professional organization that is focused on doing great work.
What are the need gaps in the digital and design ecosystem? How do you fill those gaps?
In the digital domain, there is massive clutter because of multiple communication routes with diverse messaging – most of which is achieved inorganically.
It becomes essential for brands to experiment and do things differently. Considering the media overload, users today also have a very short attention span. Simple and thought-provoking communication via design is the need of the hour. Creating that thumb stopping effect is what we at The Minimalist are working on.
India in terms of digital interaction is yet to come of age. There is a major need gap for quality UI and UX experts. Large companies have already adapted to the growing use of digital platforms, and a sizeable number of SMEs are gradually understanding the need of being present across the digital ecosystem. While things are increasingly going digital, there are very few companies who are working towards enhancing and creating a great user experience.
The overall penetration of digitization within SMEs, which are a significant part of the overall business ecosystem is very slow. Moreover, developing your online presence should be viewed as an investment instead of a cost considering online presence for this sector is very important. Investment in this sector is minimal and we expect to see this increasing over the next 3 to 5 years.
Thirdly, today applications are all about functionality. Larger companies earlier would focus plainly on developing applications. However, we have reached a stage wherein usability is crucial and a user needs to be persuaded to take action. Hence the user experience plays an important role. From wearables to smart-tech, it is the interface which is key to the user’s overall experience considering it drives sales.
Tell us about some of your most popular work, and something you are exceptionally proud of.
We recently worked with the global IT firm Hexaware for their rebranding exercise. We worked with them to re-brand them after a period of 20 years. This was a rigorous and massive rebranding exercise wherein we had to come up with a completely new identity in line with the company’s strategy.
Hexaware globally launched their fresh new identity very recently, and it was highly appreciated.
In terms of digital, we have worked on numerous successful campaigns that we are extremely proud of. We have worked with Xiaomi for a complete digital launch for one of their products. We have worked with large corporations such as Aditya Birla Bank, ICICI Prudential and Blue Star, and have also been managing end-to-end requirements for a lot of other companies.
What’s the way forward? Where do you see the Minimalist in the next 3 to 5 years?
Within the next 3 to 5 years, we are looking at establishing ourselves in the global market along with having a global presence. We are getting strong traction from few markets and are exploring various geographies seriously. We have been working with clients in US, Europe and APAC and are looking forward to strengthening our presence here.
We are also looking at setting up all 3 SBUs as domain experts under a single roof.
We have always focused on the concept of Minimalism across all the work that we do and have a strong agenda of introducing the concept of minimalism to the market here in India as well as abroad.