Our five-pronged approach focuses on your individual strengths to develop your unique qualities towards making you an exemplary pi- designer.
Communication design is the utilisation of various media forms to disseminate a message from the sender to the recipient. It differs from regular communication in the creative use of a design that is employed particularly to generate a desired social response from the receiver. The desired response exists in a range of possibilities, from simple adverts pushing the public to buy something to instilling positive behaviours in society or the dissemination of an ideology or social agenda among the masses.
Considering that communication design is a well-evolved medium with a far-reaching influence, it is natural to explore how it can influence society. It is a way of exchanging ideas without losing the meaning in the process, stylised in a manner that evokes the targeted response from the receiver. Thus, communication design is fruitful in furthering social agendas and anticipating a congruent response. The social agenda in question could be anything, ranging from issues of gender, politics, environment, education, health, hygiene, or commerce. The discipline can be employed to create meaningful change in society and get one’s message across. A well-designed message is retained by the public longer and appeals to the fundamental psychological nature of the human mind.
The Anand Milk Union Limited, popularly known as Amul, is a name renowned across the country and also internationally. Before Amul was established, the farmers were being exploited by the local trade companies, particularly Polson Dairy which bought milk from the farmers at cheap rates and sold it to Mumbai at higher rates. Milk became a symbol of protest for the farmers and with the help of Dr Verghese Kurien, they established Amul allowed them to sell the milk directly to the government, eliminating the exploitative middleman.
The communication design and marketing campaigns of Amul are crafted with brilliance that captured the origin story of the company that began from the grassroots and spread to every nook and cranny of the country. Polson dairy had its own brand figure, the Polson Dairy Girl, but Amul’s innocent Utterly Butterly Girl sharing the taste of India popularised the company as a homegrown, farmer-owned, nationalist initiative directly benefiting the producers. The subtle flavour of nationalism mixed with ethical business practices was the message that Amul shared with the country.
The Operation Flood, as the White Revolution was called, inspired director Shyam Benegal who directed the film Manthan which was based upon the historic achievement of the White Revolution led by Dr Kurien, and was produced by 5,00,000 farmers, each contributing Rs 2. The title song of the film was later used as the track for Amul's commercial depicting scenes of empowered rural female farmers who held the reins of their own business and became scientifically advanced as well. The campaign focussed on how rural women were now no less than urban women. The social agenda of rural development, community business practices, and the role of Amul in the national economic growth were furthered by the company through its impeccable communication design. Moreover, the advertisements that Amul releases have created a niche of their own in the public consciousness. Every significant national event is followed by an Amul advertisement communicating about it in its signature style. While they may not be socio-politically critical, Amul advertisements also take cognisance of controversial or landmark political changes in the country.
It is the function of communication design to capture the essence of an ideology and share it with the public through design. When concerned with matters pertaining to the LGBTQ+ communities, communication design further agendas by incorporating models that delineate from a dualist mindset and move towards the understanding of a continuum. The spectrum is a continuum of colours. The rainbow is the crux of LGBTQ+ campaigns as it symbolises the coexistence of multifarious identities and their seamless blending into one another, in contrast to colours that are compartmentalised within boundaries and stand in opposition to each other. Intersectionality lies at the heart of LGBTQ+ agendas and designs furthering queer agendas are inclusive of oppressed voices and typically involve breaking the traditional patterns of art and design as a mark of protest against normativity. For example, communication designed to propagate awareness in society towards LGBTQ+ issues is seen to include disproportionate human figures with characteristics that society perceives as flaws, bold choices of colour across the spectrum and mutual respect for all identities across the spectrum. It is often directed at conveying how pride is not simply a celebration of love but a protest against the entities that prevent love among individuals.
The principles of design can be a productive arrow in the quiver of social reformation movements. The visual medium is impactful in normalising taboos that oppress various social groups and creating awareness in society and further social agendas. For example, communication design in infographics about menstruation can normalise the subject and dilute the taboo even in the remotest parts of the country. Moreover, since communication design is directed to produce a particular response, it helps to break the stereotype from the grassroots. The visual medium acts as a great equaliser, bridging the literacy gap across the world since people who cannot read or write can still understand the ideas behind art and design. The Project Streedhan- #InvestinIron initiative changes the narrative around Stree Dhan (woman’s wealth) by replacing gold purchases with iron supplements, a metal deficient in the bodies of the majority of Indian women. Why do you run after gold when it is iron that runs in your veins is the hook line of the audio-visual narrative that portrays women across the country indulging in iron-rich edibles, creating awareness around anemia and propagating a healthy lifestyle.
During the war of 1812, the figure of Uncle Sam became popular in America. While it cannot be said with certainty whether Uncle Sam actually existed, he became a personification of the United States of America. This personified image of the USA was later used for recruiting soldiers for the army and the image gained notoriety for its relationship with military propaganda. As a project in communication design, Uncle Sam went above and beyond in communicating his patriotism to the American youth, encouraging them to serve their nation. Clothed in the colours of the American flag, Uncle Sam urgently communicated to society the requirement for devoted soldiers during the war and furthered its agenda. The red, blue, and white incorporated in the poster's design solidified its nationalist appeal and carved a niche in the American visual memory. Employing the principles of colour theory, Uncle Sam’s communication was designed in a manner that evoked patriotism in Americans and emphasised the insolubility of the American Dream. Colour theory is a compilation of rules, guidelines, and principles about the impact of each colour and its relationship with each other.
A similar assortment of colours can be seen in another poster of the second world war, created by J. Howard Miller in 1943 for Westinghouse electric, which features a woman clothed in blue denim and wearing a red hairband with white polka dots. The world war was a time of crisis when the majority of the male population of the USA was stationed in Europe to fight the war and the domestic industries of America were prodding women to join the workforce. The poster read ‘We Can Do It” and was also known as Rosy the Riveter whose actual existence is ambiguous like Uncle Sam’s. She became a representative of the hard-working American labour force who was not merely employed in the industry but chosen to fulfil their national duties by producing ammunition and war supplies. The red, blue, and white design of the poster communicated the patriotic impulse among the masses and furthered the war-time agenda among women, who were previously prohibited to work outside of their homes but had to be recruited en masse to run the state machinery during the second world war. Rosie the Riveter excellently exemplifies pioneering communication design because it served two social agendas and seamlessly transitioned from war to feminism. Rosy the Riveter was adopted as a feminist icon in the 1980s and was symbolic of the illustrious American woman who sought gender equality, freedom, and liberty. She not only became the personification of America but also of the initial waves of feminism in America.
That communication design can be the backbone of propagating socio-political agendas was observed most prominently during the Gulf War which was also called a media event. In a study titled War and Media, William E. Biernatzki writes that by constructing such events, media serves an important social function by working to organize and orchestrate the relationship of the individual to the community. The happenings on the war ground were communicated to the citizens in a manner that solidified national identity, reconstructed history, and established a social consensus with respect to the war. A similar fabrication of national narrative through communication design took place in America after the fall of the twin towers when the American national flag became a symbol of a cohesive national identity and was widely incorporated in the following social and commercial campaigns. National flags, in general, are a design of communication that further patriotic and nationalist agendas in society.
Like America, audio-visual consumption in China was also focused to further socialist, nationalist, and communist agendas. A study by Sharon Du, a student fellow at Hoover Institution Library & Archives states that Mao Zedong was of the view that in an ideal socialist society gender equality is of the utmost importance and women should be a productive part of the society, receiving equal wages for equal work. While it is a topic up for debate how efficiently Mao implemented this idea, the political aims of the leaders were communicated to society through an influential communication design. Frequent dissemination of party ideas was crucial to mould public opinion in their favour and further their agenda. Posters were a fundamental mode of communication and the image below is an ideal depiction of their communicative design. It centralises the woman question by placing two women at the focus under the guiding light of Mao, holding books to signify the importance of female education for the nation. The design harks back at patriotic ideals with the background of flowing red fabric, quite obviously depicting the Chinese flag, and is resonant with the communication design of the USA in the agendas involving the inclusion of women in the workforce, their liberation, and their rights, duties, and responsibilities in the national landscape.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
The scheme, designed to address the lack of education among female children in India, can be taken as another wonder of communication design. Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao translates to "save the girl child, educate the girl child" and aims to eradicate the gender-biased ideologies so prevalent in our society. There is no denying the fact that despite the rich heritage culture and values, there has been a history of discrimination through sex-selective abortions as gender bias in the country. The scheme was launched by the Prime Minister of India in 2015 to tackle the increasing gap in the child sex ratio in the country with a focus to save them from female foeticide and ensure their well beings after birth as well through various scholarships, pensions programmes, and educational incentives devoted to the cause. The three governing bodies, i.e, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW), and Ministry of Human Resource Development (MoHRD) are responsible for ensuring the girl child-friendly environment by building separate functional washrooms, hostels, schools, and healthcare centres. It includes the Sukanya Samridhi Yojana targeting parents to open a savings account for their daughters with lucrative interest rates so that the mindset of treating a girl child as a financial burden can be challenged and overturned.
A huge factor in leading the project towards its success has been the media and advocacy campaign by the government. Including radio ads, catchy jingles in regional languages, brochures, graffiti or wall arts, television and print media, and Mobile SMS, a significant amount of funds have been spent on communicating the principles of this project to the general public. According to a report by a leading daily, The Economic Times, around 400 crores of funds have been spent on media campaigns only. Given this campaign, the sex ratio since then has moved upward by 16 points in five years from 918 in 2014 to 934 in 2019; the National Gross Enrollment ratio defining the number of girl students in secondary schools has moved from 77.45 (2014) to 81.32 (2018) among other developments. One interesting instance from this campaign was 'Selfie with daughter' which became a worldwide hit. During one of the Mann ki Baat sessions, PM praised a Sarpanch from Bibipur, Haryana for sharing a selfie with his daughter and soon people were sharing selfies with their daughters on social media across the world, celebrating their daughters and showing their proud faces.
National Tobacco Control Programme
The programme aiming to reduce tobacco consumption in Indian youth and raise awareness around its harmful effects was launched by the Government of India back in 2007 as a part of the 11th Five-Year Plan. To implement the strategies for the prevention of tobacco usage in the country, the government made interesting use of social media campaigns. With the National Tobacco Control Cell in charge of policy formation to raise awareness and follow the guidelines around tobacco control from the WHO, various ads were televised on the small screen and before film screenings in theatres as well that contained testimonials from people suffering the consequences of consuming tobacco for a long time. Including State-level advocacy workshops and national-level tobacco product testing laboratories, law enforcement committees and training programmes for health care workers, various measures were taken to disseminate the information to the masses. The campaign made sure to include a number of civic and socio-political bodies from Panchayat Raj institutions to schools and educational centres to strike the nail. Quit Tobacco Movement in 2008, Life Se Panga Mat le Yaar in 2011, Election Campaign in 2014, and Tambakhu ko Dhishum in 2015; all of the programmes mentioned above have employed communication designs in different manners to send information regarding the dangers of smoking and tobacco.
For example, according to a report by tobccoinduceddiseases.org Life Se Panga Mat Le Yaar reached out to 165,000 to 227,000 people through radios and got more than two and a half thousand views on youtube; whereas Election Campaign targeted school children where 692 children from selected municipal schools in Mumbai participated and around 3000 slogans promoting tobacco control were collected in response. The programme instilled a sense of awareness among children around the repercussions of these products that they sometimes consume in peer pressure to fit in and then get addicted to them.
Offering the best of both worlds, communication design combines the creativity of art and the purposiveness of design. In the marriage of art and technology in the digital landscape, communication design has emerged as a worthy medium of dissemination, becoming a multifaceted approach to further social agendas through subliminal messaging and the analysis of the human unconscious.
Did you know that we spend about 90% of our time indoors! We use the built environment, especially interior spaces,…
We live in a hyperlinked, hyper-connected world! Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Youtube, Google, have become verbs that represent “things we…
The moment one hears the word fashion, one immediately visualises, beautiful clothes, bags, accessories, interesting prints, embroidery and colours, glamour,…
In the first of our series of interactions with you, the aspiring Communication Design student, I think it is important…
The digital age has allowed photography to boom like never before. It’s a massive, commercial industry which is growing explosively…