In an unusual attempt to work with this retail giant in India, we worked on ways to reimagine their design.
This countrywide, new-age F&B chain is easily the most crowded watering hole on a Saturday night and also the classiest ambience for Sunday brunch with your family. No need for guesses, yes, we’re talking about our common hang-out zone — Social. Uniquely different from any other hang and dine location, Social has a definitive language of its own. An inviting decor of bohemian meets pop culture art, Social’s trademark aesthetic has managed to quickly pick up the pace and spread across Indian cities, mushrooming into 25 outlets and still counting
Artists brewing ideas on a Tuesday afternoon or a squad of boys reserving their friend’s table on Friday evening, an occasional date night or just a leave-me-alone corner time — Social’s Brand has become a go-to destination point for all millennials. Five years into the business, Social is Impresario Hospitality Group’s crowning jewel. Known for its first in the country creative approach to design & art through its outlets, it was time that Impresario gave Social an uplift in some sense. Something new, something innovative, something edgy, something Social. Keeping this in mind, they reached out to a bunch of creative agencies to come up with a new and augmented communication landscape, with ‘innovative design’ being central to its execution.
When we met their marketing head, Shobita Kadan, she was clear that design has always and will always play a critical role in any communication. Social gave us 5 different scenarios to work with regarding how to change the way they would communicate with its audience. The dexterity required and sought in reimagining Social’s communication and design was palpable from our conversations with them; it was certainly reflective of the decade long experience that Impresario had built into Social’s branding.
With this in mind our team set off to study the brand, their raison-d’être; discern the reasons why people love, eschew or feel a certain energy towards the brand and then come up with refreshing creative ideas to reconnect with new and existing consumers of Social.
⅕: Our first collaborative idea was the #CyclingClub!
Social had previously collaborated with ‘The Peddlers Club’ and was looking to extend this association and communicate it to its audience, in a fun & quirky way. While keeping the visual identity of Social consistent and intact, we had to come up with communication that would help cycling enthusiasts in the city, resonate with this collaboration.
A city full of “peddlers” and the path strewn with signature roadmaps to follow.
Our starting point was imagining what we would like to have seen had we been present at a cyclathon, conducted by Social -perhaps as a potential customer.
Soon, we were able to bring on-board a bunch of ideas that spoke like the brand’s language. Resolute in our commitment to creativity we set principles and pursued fresh ideas and pedalled them in tandem. We decided that the cyclathon would host a myriad of colours, some seen before, familiar; and one new! The vibrant, royal blue- a colour that would highlight the novelty of the event through novel avenues.
To kick-off the collaborative event, the flag would be a critical symbol to catch a cyclist’s attention. We kept the announcement poster simple, carrying just the required information — minimal — something that would look hand in glove on walls, boards and stands.
The poster stickers were something you would have seldom seen. Our aim was to blend cause with action and since these creative pieces were for Mumbai-city only, we highlighted a diverse array of causes. As for Mumbaikars, diversity with a hint of cosmopolitan is all but expected.
Certified peddler black caps were designed for riders. Suave and edgy in cuts it stood out in black with hints of orange to build a range of merchandise for the brand. And to top it all, we also designed wristbands worn during and post the cyclathon.
Created in black and orange again, it was designed to be made from friendly textures. Throughout, our goal was to show how critically and closely we followed the established brand language while attempting to regain new customers. With the cycling club taken care of, we moved onto a very different event.
To end it all, we came up with the idea of a sticker wall, for capturing everyone’s reason to cycle. Cyclists could just pick one up and stick it on their t-shirts on the day of the event. This would not only become a conversation starter for the event but also reflect individual ideologies through their choice of the sticker.
Brand building is a channel-agnostic process. Channels are only tactical; as long as you have a way to reach out to your customer and capture their attention, you’ll know what route to peddle to.
⅖: Not 1, not 2, not 3 but 5!
Birthday party for a five-year legacy. #5thAnniversaryCelebrations
For birthday parties, the decoration has to be absolutely on point. Exactly the aim and challenge for us when we started to design this piece. Highlighting everything that SOCIAL stands for, with five times more focus was the chosen recipe for this occasion.
We believe SOCIAL’s outlets really represent the young adult crowd in cities they operate in. While fun, hangouts, booze and great food is common, we truly live localized experiences in local dialects. This inspired us to pitch hyperlocal lingo across creatives to appeal to different markets in a way, much closer to their hearts. So, in line with the Social brand lingo, we carefully designed words to be placed on each consumer-facing POS creatives. Flyers in black and orange, with sentences in Hindi and English, aimed to announce the event to the world. We all love a birthday invitation, don’t we?
The major idea for this event was a joint brainstorming effort shaped up as an offline sticker wall inside Social for its customers. Worded natively, it would comprise all feelings and verbs that patrons had traditionally associated with Social’s brand. However, since it was the 5th birthday, everything had to be 5X better.
Taking a step back, they would realise how much this brand has made them feel and live in the last five years when it comes to public behaviour, culture and social ways of talking, behaving, serving and expressing — both consciously and unconsciously. As a conversation starter and a plausible selfie spot, the sticker wall easily found its place in the outlet’s celebrations.
And then, to increase curiosity, came the video. As a take on pricking the curiosity of the customer, we came up with a video that would reveal just enough to draw you in without giving everything away about the event.
⅗: With the anniversary celebration plans put up proudly on the board, we moved onto the next event venturing into the City of Pearls!
A new avenue for corporate nest-building deserves a new avenue to release steam…or dum.
Social’s #Hyderabad Launch
Rapidly looking to expand to all cities across India which promised unmissable connections, Social was keen to be seen and loved in their upcoming launch in Hyderabad.
Touted to be the crown of Banjara Hills, the Social in Hyderabad would be hand in glove with its outing scenes. Our team researched to build a bank of hyperlocal expressions, wordings, sayings, nicknames and words from the mixed local lingo.
We based the launch announcement on an existing brand asset: their newspaper styled menu. This would not only bring in flavours of launch but do so in a manner that was familiar to customers. This version of the Social newspaper would carry know-hows of the launch along with a sneak peek into the fresh new hangout area. The only void in the grand city of Nizam was a place where you could play endlessly and work when needed, without being poked or stared at. We pitched the Banjara Hills social as a “PubSpace” that would aptly fill this void. Apart from the one-time events, we also worked with the brand to help them creatively expand their routine offerings.
⅘: Moving on from this launch work onto the next: Our work on the next piece, needed us to showcase brand Social to a very offbeat target!
Because Wednesdays are too far from Saturdays, and you love a teaser before the party.
Our core challenge here was to build Social as a go-to place not only for evening meetups but for the corporate honchos too. To build on this need, we took into account a specific area of power lunches often ignored in the F&B industry — the Corporate wheel!
We decided to draw attention from the business crowd through two campaigns: One running B2B (burger 2 beer) as a bold choice and B2C (biryani 2 coke) for a sober one. Our creative offerings for this campaign were kept visible over two layers: i.e. Within the premises of luncheon and beyond it.
Moving beyond just the campaigns, we gave special emphasis to corporate norms of clearing the cheques, especially when you can claim them as reimbursements from your company. A lot of people keep bills in their wallets for future reference. And we harped on this human psychology to come up with specially branded bill covers. Something that was hardbound, spoke the language of Social, but could easily fit within your wallets. This would not only help stay in the customer’s mind (recall) but also his wallet. Just perfectly placed for him to instantly recall his amazing corporate meal at Social, the last time he went for lunch with his work colleagues. The cover for checks that diners received on completion of their express lunch was a prime form of branding, in Social’s own mother tongue.
The blend of soft grey and royal blue was a symphony that suited laughter and discussion filled lunch tables on weekday afternoons. To serve a piece of people’s favourite dine-out space to them, in a totally new format was a recipe for a crowd puller. However, our takeaway bag named ‘Ace of Spades’ was the main takeaway. Ensuring we help the customers carry back a piece of Social’s communication alongside the food, the carry bags were a way to showcase the social express lunch to those potentially interested colleagues in the hope for repeat and new customers to walk-in. Back from lunch or into the office the next day, with your own tiffin in it: the takeaway bag helped create a brand touchpoint in the form of a walking advertisement board!
5/5: At the end came to the most power-packed campaign.
This challenge was a doozy: It has always been tough to garner walk-ins between lean hours of 4 pm to 8 pm across all outlets. How to fix this long-standing conundrum of the industry for Social.
We started by diving into human behaviour. When do people love to party the most? Perhaps after 10 pm, with their friends. That was our cue for the design landscape. We needed something that would attract the crowd from the night before, for a couple of beers the next day. So we proposed to place a neon maze in every outlet. Something that would have varying discounts based upon how far you walked, without going off maze. The game would activate only post 10 pm, where you could be challenged by your friends, after you’ve consumed some amount of alcohol, to walk the maze. Unifying both aspects of social behaviour i.e. challenging peers as well as the desire to walk as far as you can, the neon maze would serve as the perfect juncture to offer discounts that felt ‘earned’. And based on how far you walk the maze, you’d be able to redeem the discounts (10%, 20%, 30% or 40%) between 4 pm to 8 pm, at the same outlet, anytime during the month.
Not only would this serve as a campaign that would generate UGC, but also help Social fill up its lean hours with the same crowd that flocked its pubs at night.
Moreover, we also placed an online + offline campaign that stirred conversations amongst people and gave them enough reason to come down for a beer, between 4 pm to 8 pm, at a local Social outlet. Hyperlocal was the flavour of this campaign. Hyperlocal not just for a city, but for a certain neighbourhood that had a distinctive characteristic associated with it.
With this, we come to the end of the showcase of what Social could’ve been. No regrets that we didn’t get to implement this for them, but if you ever come across this post and feel like sharing with a Social fan, feel free to do so. This will perhaps remind them of their favourite neighbourhood hang out spot.
Varied, yet tied together, each of our customer-facing creative ideas touched, impacted and garnered new customers. Our work with Social helped us reflect the importance of immersing ourselves in the dialect of the business and speaking fluently in the same manner too. Through offline event promotions and in-house offer announcements, we tried to make visual impacts through our creative voices. After all, as it is rightly said, brand love is better experienced than said.
For us at Lights Out, it was a pleasure to work on this pitch. Here’s to hoping that someday- in the not so distant future- this pitch gets to be realised into a full-blown design overhaul for the brand so that we could collaborate once again.