Who are we?
ColourCraft Studio, fondly called CCS, is a creative and digital agency headquartered in Mumbai, with a client servicing base in Bangalore. Started in 2009 by co-founders Ankit Jain (Creative Director) and Aditi Gandhi (Business Director) as a creative design studio, CCS has evolved over the last seven years to include digital design and digital marketing services.
Our service lines:
- Brand Experiences including brand strategy, design and deployment
- Digital Experiences including digital strategy, design and deployment of apps, e-commerce websites, dynamic websites and end-to-end digital support
- Digital Marketing including social media marketing and online advertising
The company’s growth is largely fueled by its focus on creating unique user experiences across media and industries. All our services and methodologies revolve around our core philosophy of putting the user at the centre of the design and development, delivering solutions that are functional, minimalist and aesthetic.
Our in-house team consists of 32 people with profiles generally falling under:
- Business Strategists
- Client Experience Managers
- Content Strategists
- Graphic Designers
- UI/UX Designers
- Digital Marketing Strategists
Besides the above, we leverage our professional network of content writers, photographers, video production houses, SEO experts among others to provide a holistic solution to our clients.
What’s in the name?
We started as a design studio so we wanted to keep our name simple and accessible. Over the years we have come to be fondly known as CCS by both our employees as well as clients, as we are in the process of moving to the acronym as our primary identity.
What we do?
Covered in the profile.
Why we do it?
Ankit and Aditi had zero experience in the design or agency business when they started CCS in 2009 over breakfast (as do most good things in life).
Ankit had just quit his business consulting job of two years with Ernst & Young India and was looking to switch over to a profession that allowed him to express his creative side more freely and be closer to his passion for writing and visual arts. Graphic design was a great way to do both although he had no formal education in design. He had a Bachelor’s Degree from the prestigious Kelley School of Business at Indiana University with majors in Marketing and Information Systems, which had gotten him a cushy job with Deloitte Consulting in Chicago putting together business strategies for giant corporates in the U.S. But with a strong experience in business consulting and a creative mindset that was simmering inside since childhood, self-learning Photoshop and Illustrator was the least of the obstacles in starting a creative design studio. Getting business in this highly competitive industry was the tough part.
Enter Aditi with a natural charisma for networking and selling ideas, which had been finely honed in the Media & Entertainment division at Ernst & Young, where she met Ankit. A fresh graduate from NMIMS with a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Studies, Aditi took to consulting large media corporations with her intrinsic talent at establishing rapport and relationships with people, making her the perfect foil for Ankit’s strong, individualistic creativity. After two years at E&Y, Aditi decided she wanted to be her own boss, and she saw a great opportunity to establish a niche in the creative design business because she felt that the Indian market was still far immature in areas like digital and social media.
So, on an early Sunday morning in February 2009, sleepless and delirious after a night of partying, they joined forces to create CCS. And they haven’t looked back ever since. CCS is a story of how formal education and experience have little to do with entrepreneurship, and it’s never too late to pursue your passions.
How we evolve?
Like a lot of other agencies these days, CCS is not playing a valuations game. The company wants to create a sustainable growth model for the long-term even if it does choose to divest some stake at some point. This is evident in the fact that CCS works with a lot of start-ups and mid-sized companies, not just MNCs. The leading criteria for client acquisition is not just brand name or money, but the brand story and the potential for a long-term relationship. For example, Bodycraft Spa & Salon has been a client from inception and over the last 7 years, CCS has grown into a strategic partner for them rather than just a creative agency. At the same time, the client portfolio includes MNCs like Tata, L’Oreal, JM Financial, Ramada, Samsung, Vedanta and Indiabulls.
Investment in sustainable growth is also evident in the human resource policies of the company with a focus on work-life balance, flexible working hours for married women and mothers and encouragement to pursue personal creative passions. CCS has managed to create an environment that is meritorious, inclusive and people-driven.
This year, the company decided it was time to extend these values to the work space. They revamped a 1,600 sq. ft. space in the central Prabhadevi area of Mumbai into a creative studio that could easily be mistaken for a cafe or lounge if you didn’t look closer. The use of raw brick walls, concrete and metal; exposed piping that run like veins across the office and lots of glass to give a feeling of openness. The idea was to “design” as little as possible and give as much open space as possible. This not only gave the place a vibrant look but also helped save a ton of painting, plastering and finishing costs. This “Work in Progress” look fits perfectly with the nature of our business, which is always work in progress!
CCS also has its own home-developed technology for automating work, encouraging teamwork and reducing timelines. Examples are “Atticus”, CCS’ homegrown Enterprise Resource Planning tool, and “Juno” a social media automation tool.
CCS is like a family-owned-and-operated company, which ensures a very personalized, hands on experience for clients with plenty of face-time with the Partners. The company considers itself to be a “work-in-progress”, much like the decor of its office space and is always striving to become a better version of itself. The future of the company is “content” with “design” at its core. CCS will invest in becoming a content platform not just for clients but also consumers, thus amalgamating its service culture with media culture to create iconic visual communications that makes the world more beautiful.
Social responsibility in social media
Social media has done wonders for freedom of expression. It has also given a low-cost platform for entrepreneurs and small businesses to express themselves to a large audience. However, as with all new technologies, social media has had some negative effects. Anyone with a smartphone anywhere can now dispense unverified information behind the cloak of anonymity, and this has led to a lot of disinformation and white noise on social media. For that reason, at CCS, the Digital Marketing team is trained to work on journalistic principles. We have strict protocols for verifying third-party information against two sources, doing our best to make sure we do not oversell the client’s product or provide misleading information about it and giving using intellectual property in a legal way. Social media needs to be seen as a journalistic endeavour and should be subject to the same regulations so that people use it with responsibility. At CCS we have taken that step proactively.
Need of the hour
One impediment we see to the digital marketing business at this point are click-farms that provide unrealistic and unverifiable results of online ad campaigns. It makes targeting the right audience tougher and advertising less valuable.
Another impediment is the new surcharge implemented by the Government of India which taxes pay-per-click advertising and yet there is no mechanism to tax PPC providers like Facebook and Google. So the brunt of the tax has to be borne by the agency or the client. This needs to be clarified as soon as possible.
We learned the hard way
We learnt the hard way that you cannot hire ready-made social media strategists. You have to hire smart people, and then train and groom them in-house because the education system has not yet caught up with the social media boom.
Did we just share that?
While implementing a new inquiry form on social media for one of our clients, one of our team members filled in their information as a test. The client accidentally processed the form thinking it was a real lead. The best part was that the team member actually ended up using the client’s product and became an actual customer. The client was duly informed and we all had a good laugh about it.
They work with us
CCS’ clients in the social media space include Girnar Tea & Beverages, Snap Fitness India, Ramada Group, Live Being Fit, Bodycraft Spa and Salon and Virtuous Retail. The company’s other clients however fall under a broad spectrum of industries and range from large corporations like Tata, L’Oreal, Indiabulls, JM Financial, Vedanta to international companies like Milwaukee Electronics (U.S.), Smith’s Environmental (UK) and Harridge Group (Australia) to startups. Most clients tend to fall in the mid-size category as CCS likes and chooses to work with companies that are interested in a collaborative relationship as opposed to a typical client-vendor equation, and where CCS can be part of the client’s growth story.
Industry as we foresee
The industry is already moving towards more automation especially in the area of generation and management of content. We have always believed that the best person to create social media content for a business is someone from the business itself, someone who is acutely aware of the brand voice and ground realities. Software and tools that allow businesses to create home-grown content in a fast and efficient way and allow them to control the quality of content without too much back and forth with an agency will be highly sought after and effective, allowing agencies to do what they do best – strategy and advertising.
A day without Internet
CCS prides itself not only on its employee’s strong work ethic but also on their ability to cut loose. On the days when there is no internet, it is typical to find employees indulging themselves in a friendly yet highly competitive game of foosball (they have a league!), table tennis or any of other numerous board games around the office. CCS also has an extensive library which is open to all employees year round. CCS is far from your typical office and ensures a home-like experience for its employees, many of whom have stuck around for over 5 years with the agency because of its culture.
Lastly, are you hiring?
CCS is always on the lookout for intelligent, talented individuals.