When I emailed The Dallas Company I got a very quick response, definitely interested to meet, and they asked where I had heard about them and their work. I said that I’d seen their work for The Pantry Cafe on The Dieline, a packaging blog. Dallas, the owner, had no idea that the work had already been featured so was super chuffed with that! An added bonus for him.
We arranged to meet with him the day after we arrived in Mumbai, which was a Saturday. This instantly posed questions in my head about working hours in India. He suggested meeting in a cafe in Bandra, a northern suburb of the city which is known to be quite trendy. We had only arrived in Bombay at 11.30pm the night before so we were still quite dazed as we tried to direct a taxi driver to the place (knowing street names and locations of cafes/restaurants is not a stipulation of being a taxi driver in India).
Finally we caught up with Dallas in Starbucks in BKC (Bandra Kurla Complex). It turns out that The Dallas Company is a one man band, hence the name, who uses freelancers if and when necessary. This wasn’t what I was expecting, but great to speak directly with someone who had decided to go solo. It did explain the Saturday meeting, he basically works the hours that he needs to, to fulfil his clients needs and had meetings arranged for that afternoon.
He had been employed at an advertising agency that got occasional pieces of design work alongside. He could see the importance of branding, packaging and design as a separate entity to advertising and set up a company to do just that. In India, advertising is big business and clients can understand the need to spend some money to create a campaign that will resonate with its market. However, with design, it is still a bit of a battle to persuade them that taking the time (and therefore money) to produce a logo to be the cornerstone of their brand. Dallas said that in the last seven to eight years clients have started to become more open but there is still a huge amount of patience required to explain why your brand would benefit. It’s almost an education. He said sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating and you’re instinct is to tell them to sod off, but the persistence mostly pays off. I can totally relate to this; in London we always moan about clients demanding things in ridiculously short deadlines and not valuing the creative process. This kind of puts things into perspective a bit though… Maybe I won’t moan so much next time!
Another recurring conversation was that of the fees in India; like the country itself they seem to be incredibly diverse. It’s possible to get a full branding exercise done by someone (who may or may not be a designer) for as little as 1000Rs (about £10) But to go to a respected, well-known agency it might cost 200 lak (£200,000) dallas referenced Rey and Keshavan, an agency based in Bangalore. Therefore charging competitively could be a complete nightmare and is where patient education and a successful portfolio is imperative, to persuade people it’s a worthwhile investment.
Dallas had heard of and referenced Turner Duckworth, a London based agency, whose work with Coca-Cola in particular seems to be revered worldwide. It’s interesting to find out which London companies people have heard of and why.
We visited the Pantry Cafe the following morning to see his work in the flesh.
He also recommended we visit a pop-up designer flea market in the area which we did the next day. It was good but very much like a mini London festival with live music, kitsch stalls of new handmade items, street food and far too many people. A flashback to home!
Check out Dallas’s other work at http://thedallascompany.com