THE ROLE OF COMMUNICATIONS & DESIGN
From where I’m looking at it, communications & design is the backbone of a lot of high impact work happening in the Indian social impact space. Our market needs to see them as beyond the standard demarcated roles in a brand-level team. It plays a critical role in almost all areas of an orgs work. It makes or breaks your fundraising efforts, the team culture, and influences the success of your program’s impact on ground to a large extent. It helps you create experiences that are more immersive, articulate, cohesive. Investing in it allows you to build a deeper, more meaningful connection with your beneficiaries and stakeholders.
My team has been helping organisations achieve their fundraising, brand building, recruitment and program goals through the lens of communications since 2015. We have worked hard in helping the market change their perception of the role of communications, and begin to invest more heavily in research-backed solutions. This has been a slow change. There is still a lot more work to be done, and a lot more support needed.
HOW I RUN STUDIO SUBU
Over the past 7 years, my firm has morphed into different shapes and sizes with a singular goal of pushing and innovating on what research, design and communication is, and can be in the Indian social impact space. I have always preferred to keep Studio Subu nimble, fluidic and exploratory as a setup. It allows us to push hard and fast. It allows us to pilot ideas, and experiment with concepts that are hard to implement in a standard agency / organization.
We focus on building rapid prototypes backed by honest research. It’s an inclusive work practice with our partner orgs and beneficiaries and collaborators all being at the centre of each discussion. This style of working has been Studio Subu’s trademark and the reason for all its success so far. As a leader/founder, I care more about how the brand serves as a powerful platform that invites amazing talent to come and innovate at, than the legacy I need to preserve of the brand. The people working with me have made Studio Subu what it is. Over the years, I feel privileged to have worked with some of the most high caliber talent in the creative and social impact space.
WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON NOW
The last 2-3 years through the pandemic, I set up several experiments at the firm to test out concepts, like the Submarine Conference (3-day residency), to The Blueprint Project (Capacity Building Workshops), to targeted non-design projects (like team-culture-improvement cases, non-comms team training workshops). These experiments have helped me learn a lot about nuanced, challenges that orgs are facing that they’re struggling to articulate (For Instance: indirect factors affecting program success, and brand culture — like team power-dynamics, inability to use DIY toolkits, psychological stigma attached to writing and design, etc).
I have identified 5 key need areas where research, design and communications can drive a transformative impact. Some of these have already been a strong offering at Studio Subu, some are at a more nascent stage of development.
Brand Strengthening (Primarily for Fundraising)
Program Impact Booster (Through Improved Delivery)
Impact Documentation and Showcase
Knowledge Sharing Experiences + Capacity Building
Outreach Strategy & Support
CEO, Creative Head
Harish has been working in the social Impact space as a researcher, designer and content writer for 10 years. His work focuses on building accessible and inclusive experiences stemming from user behaviour studies. He uses human-centred design principles as his framework to develop design strategies and improve engagement. Harish holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been internationally recognised and awarded the William Drenttel Award for Excellence in Design (2016). Harish credits all his work and accolades to the vision and knowledge shared by his mentor Aaron Padin.
COO, Business & Strategy Head
Meghna Rakshit has over 20 years of experience in in marketing and communications with corporate and social sector companies. She is passionate about leveraging communications to drive gender equality and empower women. Meghna holds an MBA from the Indian School of Business and a BA in Marketing and Psychology from Hamilton College, NY. She brings extensive experience in user-centred problem solving, communications, business planing and design thinking to her work. She sits on the advisory board of ATMA and has been a speaker at several dev sector forums. Prior to Studio Subu, Meghna previously worked as a communications director at Womanity Foundation and Teach For India. Her corporate experience include working as a media planner at Mindshare New York & Mumbai, and as a marketing strategist at 9.9 Media, and Anand Bazaar Patrika.
Head of Media & Outreach
Over the past 13 years, Noella has worked with global businesses, startups, and agencies, to create impactful narratives that deliver results for both consumers and companies; humanizing brands on social media and engaging in conversations of value. Prior to Studio Subu, Noella’s past experience includes copy writing for corporate advertising campaigns, content marketing, brand and communication strategy, and most recently global digital marketing at ABB.
Senior Manager, New Media & Knowledge Sharing
Siddharth is a social impact enthusiast who has played several roles in the impact industry, such as a Community Aggregator, Talent Consultant, Podcaster and Youth Leadership Facilitator. Prior to Studio Subu, Siddharth was associated with organisations such as Sattva Consulting, Teach For India and AIESEC. Siddharth holds a deep interest in creating platforms and experiences that brings people together to build meaningful connections and learn from one-another. At Studio Subu, Siddharth is using his skills to build communication and design thinking capacity, by creating online / offline learning and networking experiences for all social impact leaders.
Sr Consultant, Research & Content
Rimjhim Surana is a human-centered designer (HCD) and researcher. Using a human-centered design approach, she has led strategy and design projects across service delivery, program design, and communications. While her expertise lies in the space of sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and youth, she has also worked on projects in women’s livelihoods and education. She has worked on projects for the Gates Foundation, Population Services International, Packard Foundation, and IPAS Development Foundation. At Studio Subu she brings her expertise on the HCD process, research, and knowledge creation to different projects. She also consults with HCDExchange, a community of practice and knowledge hub based in Kenya that explores the integration of HCD in Adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH).
Siddharth holds a deep interest in creating platforms and experiences that brings people together to build meaningful connections and learn from one-another. He has extensively across mediums, platforms and creative themes such as graphic novels, illustrated news articles, fashion journals and brand identities indiscriminately enjoying them all. Siddharth is using his multi-media skills to bring new dimensions to the creative work at the studio. He enjoys deep diving into new art mediums in his quest for beauty and meaning in an otherwise confusing world.
WE'RE GROWING OUR TEAM
The market is beginning to get more interested in strengthening these verticals, and I am slowly build a tight-knit, high-impact, super-team that can push fast, and explore how we can make a measurable dent at scale. I am looking to team up with highly skilled team members who have a clear sense of their personal identity, their work-practice / processes / methods, and share a similar sense of urgency as mine to push now. I’m bringing on members that have deep empathy and a strong understanding of the work on-ground, and at-scale in the India social impact landscape.
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