How might we articulate an inflection point in a brand's story and find a voice that resonates with the right audience?
Who is Eicher?
Eicher Trucks & Buses is a commercial trucks manufacturer in India. It is a joint venture between the Volvo Group and Eicher Motors Limited. Their vision is to be recognized as the industry leader driving modernization in commercial transportation in India and the developing world.
What were the challenges?
ONE Eicher was changing. A part of this change, they wanted us to find a better way to reconnect with the consumer.
TWO Eicher and Volvo got into a joint venture to produce new heavy duty trucks in India. We were asked to visually articulate this new inflection point in the brand's story.
I was assigned as the lead designer on this project after my design proposal was chosen by the client. The project had a huge scope in terms of deliverables. The other designers who worked on these deliverables were Sanchit Sawaria and Kshitij Tembe. Richa Bhargava was the Creative Director.
A successful brand launch at the Auto Expo was credited in part for an up-tick in sales performance in the quarter following the launch of the re-brand. Following the launch Eicher stock grew by 200% over the next year. But more importantly, the brand was viewed more favorably by contract truck drivers who, even though formed a majority of the industry’s workforce, felt neglected by the Indian trucking industry.
TEAM Richa Bhargava, Sanchit Sawaria, Kshitij Tembe, Shantanu Salgaonkar
Image on Cover:
The newly designed signage pylon found outside Eicher dealerships
The first challenge
Let's meet the stakeholders
We traveled to various parts of India conducting many investigative sessions that involved conversations with the numerous stakeholders. These involved everyone, right from the CEO and his board to dealership owners and their employees to single truck owners and 200-trucks-strong fleet owners.
These conversations demystified many assumptions and tropes about the trucking world. More importantly, it revealed an important pattern in how trucks were bought and sold by truck owners. It became more and more apparent that owners were informed on their decision by the drivers they employed. Hence, I started to study the lifestyle of the typical Indian truck driver.
Left: An on field interview with one of the dealership owners.
Now let's meet the Indian truck driver
I interviewed truckers from all over India and shadowed them to understand their routine and develop an empathy that would help us design their experience. This combined with insights on truckers outside India, provided by colleagues, provided a lot of insights on a trucker's life.
Unlike Europe, America or Japan, where truck drivers can afford to raise a family and buy a house (possibly even a car) on their income, an Indian truck driver barely earns $200 a month. A European trucker usually owns the truck he drives. In India, he* is employed on a trip basis by a fleet owner, who also depends on his feedback when it comes to buying trucks.
However, given the terrible working conditions the driver is exposed to, his interest in the efficiency of the truck is less compared to his interest in the comfort provided by it.
*barring a handful exceptions, trucking is a male dominated profession in India.
Right: Lack of any facilities in dealerships is one of the examples of the adverse working conditions faced by drivers.
Since a trucker's preference influenced the buying decision, it was important to make his interaction with the brand a memorable and comfortable one. While shadowing truckers, I realized that Drivers spend a lot of time at the driver’s lounge at service centers.
Given the truck driver’s social standing in India, compounded by the idea that he is not the customer, dealerships don’t invest much time and effort on these waiting areas which are usually in deplorable conditions.
Right: A typical driver's lounge at a service station. Drivers wait here while the trucks they are driving get serviced.
Our solution was simple.
We proposed a waiting area that was infused with the new visual identity that we had developed (In Challenge Two). Comfortable chairs, a sleeping area, free meals were some of the recommendations made by us to improve the driver’s experience as he waited for his truck to get serviced. This would in turn reflect in driver’s recommendations when an owner would look to buy a new truck.
Left: A rendering of the driver's lounge that was visualized for Eicher.
The second challenge
Why did Eicher need a rebrand?
The launch of the Eicher Pro series, made in collaboration with Volvo under a joint venture, brings Eicher Trucks and Buses (ETB) into a new league. This range of future generation trucks and buses represents the modernisation of the business. It also marks a serious re-entry into the heavy duty trucks category, which has not been its strongest point. We were asked to visually articulate this new inflection point in the brand's story.
Right: The PRO 8000 series, part of the new PRO series made in collaboration with Volvo.
The two-color palette also gave a wink to the joint venture by using the blue (similar to that of Volvo) as an accent color.
The geometric shape and stout structure of the typeface (Hermes) gave the brand a strong character. Whereas, the slight rounded edges gave it the right amount of friendly approach.
The extensive program that covered a detailed signage project, a treatment of dealerships, an advertising style, marketing collaterals and web presence was developed. All these vectors are unified by the visual system developed for it. In addition, a set of corporate collaterals for Eicher, using a related form of the dress, was also developed.
Left: The first dealership to carry the new identity refresh in Hyderabad, India.
Top Right: A service center in Ahmadabad, India, complete with the directional pylon.
Bottom Right: A render of the 3D horse badge that would be used exclusively at the lobby of the corporate headquarters in Gurgaon, India.
Below: A shot of the signage manual, describing the construction of the pylon.
Top: Creative lighting makes the dealership appear differently during night. It highlights the brand colors and increases visibility on highways at night
Left: A shot of the signage manual describing the construction of the dealership board.
Top Right: Inspecting a prototype with my boss on the right, Mr Itu Chaudhuri
Bottom Right: A close-up shot of the finished dealership board.
I created a brand manual that also recommended guidelines on how to design print material that's crucial like brochures for marketing and newsletters for internal communications. These guidelines also directed digital products like the website. The next phase of the Eicher project, Eicher Live, which is an app for truck owners, used these guidelines.
Top Left: The cover design for the Eicher newsletter.
Top Right: An advertisement for one of the new Eicher Pro trucks.
Bottom: Close-ups of the defining elements of the Eicher identity.
Top: A screenshot of the Eicher website
Working on project of such scale meant I had to reinvent myself and adapt to think of the whole design program as a design system. I learned to create and maintain a control sheet and keep track of deliverables with their corresponding deadlines. It was also the first time I directly interacted with a client and learned how to keep them calm and assured during the course of the project.
Eicher needed to assert its ambitions as an assertive challenger.
Eicher is the youngest company and the junior most partner in the triumvirate that controls Indian trucking, but it has had a very good run in recent years and grown at a good clip. A youthful, aggressive stance would be appropriate to mark out an ambitious time for the company.
A new trade dress for ETB, aligned with the Eicher Motors identity, was created. It is based on a two-color palette and a system wide geometry characterized by oblique elements. This created a speedy and rugged character that infuses speed and energy into the brand.
Agency Itu Chaudhuri Design
Top: An on field interview with one of the dealership owners.
Top: Lack of any facilities in dealerships is one of the examples of the adverse working conditions faced by drivers.
Top: A typical driver's lounge at a service station. Drivers wait here while the trucks they are driving get serviced.
Top: A rendering of the driver's lounge that was visualized for Eicher.