We wish to bring back the long-lost culture of warmth in agency biomes: Viral Pandya of Cog Culture

The Creative Culture Officer of Cog Culture, Viral Pandya, spoke to about the agency's focus on nurturing the people who join them, getting into the client's shoes to understand the ground issues, and hand-holding them throughout the process while holding design at the heart of everything

Shreya Negi
New Update
We wish to bring back the long-lost culture of warmth in agency biomes: Viral Pandya of Cog Culture

Viral Pandya

Cog Digital had rebranded to Cog Culture last year, and it was primarily because the team believed that the word ‘digital’ was responsible for on-the-face confinement, while there was more to the agency - albeit in terms of integration of services such as design, CRM, ORM, performance and production amongst others, as per Viral Pandya, Creative Culture Officer, Cog Culture.

“We’re not a regular advertising agency! If you look at our clients which include brands from the sectors of education, real estate, liquor, etc., we provide them with sound solutions for genuine on-the-ground problems, understanding their business and then helping our clients by hand-holding them throughout the process,” he said.

In his opinion, this has been one of the reasons why several of the agency’s clients have stayed on for several years and have grown their businesses multi-fold. However, post-rebranding, the agency has also had to shed a lot of its clients to align with the new goals that it had set for itself in the aftermath of the pandemic, wherein the agency professionals decided to reflect upon who they were and what they should be doing.

Throwing light as to why the agency decided to go ahead with Cog Culture, Pandya emphasised that since the hardcore agency life where there was a lot of bonding, sharing, etc. has become very cold because of technology in the past few years, the agency wanted to reinstill the same atmosphere back into the creative place.

Usually, we don’t hear the designation- Creative Culture Officer in modern advertising galore, while there are Chief Creative Officers and Chief Culture Officers in various organisations. Therefore, when questioned about the not-so-widely used designation that he holds in the agency, Pandya stated that he consciously took a call of stepping down from the role of Chief Creative Officer to become a Creative Culture Officer because he wanted to bring back and relive the old culture of advertising agencies.

However, the difference between the two in Cog Culture is that the latter has a larger role to play in building the agency across strategies, planning, client presentations, etc. alongside the founders.

“The kids or the newbies are required to be nurtured and imparted the knowledge that we have because they have a very nascent knowledge. Also, we don’t want to continue witnessing the quality of the work or craft dipping further and relations becoming transactional as we have observed for the past three years now. As an independent agency we can do that because we have a free hand in several ways - including taking part in pitches, establishing cordial relations with clients, debunking layers of approvals and even not working over the weekends until it’s an absolute necessity,” he said.

With this, he also pointed out that the agency has come up with “Code of Cog Culture” - which encompasses the beliefs that the group shares.

Commenting on the retainer-to-project ratio of the agency’s clients, Pandya stated that even though the agency shares a 75:25 ratio between the two as of now, they’re not hesitant in getting into the shoes of the client to better understand the pain points and help them accordingly.

“It doesn’t matter for us whether the account is small, medium or big because, at the end of the day, we’re all communicators which help brands communicate better in the market and in turn they all come together to keep us, an independent agency, running and ensuring that the benchmark that we’ve created for ourselves is maintained,” he said.

Because Cog Culture happens to cater to various B2B clients, he emphasised that while the nature of business is different as such clients talk more on the lines of innovations and technologies of tomorrow and come up with several case studies which affect the mega-corporate ships, but the language remains the same. 

Elaborating on the digital design work that the agency has been engaging with at large, he also shared that while posters were prevalent in the print-heavy times, today, the post still remains and that it needs to be crafted well because the moment that happens, the work will have more eyeballs.

Being the hardcore Saatchi boy that he is, Pandya also shared the viewpoint that one wants to hunt for the lion, one shouldn’t go to the zoo but go to the jungle, which in the case of advertising resonates with that of going to the market, physically, to understand what are the buying patterns, likes and dislikes, receptiveness and behaviours amongst others and put them on paper followed by design and communication.

“One of the patterns that we see in today’s times, owing to a lot more of our focus on digital, is that the Gen Zs are not loyalists and are switchers instead, because they don’t want to take any responsibility and are neither hungry to do regular work but engage in something that is irreverent and disruptive,” he pointed out.

Commenting on the evolution of design space, he stated that while the field of design is an ever-changing one, the beauty lies in coming up with refreshing designs using the classics.

Sharing an example for the same, he stated that the world’s oldest font- Helvetica, which also happens to be one of the fonts that he fancies most has been used in almost each of Cog Culture’s campaigns that made the agency bring home the title of “Design Specialist Of The Year-2023” at The Abby One Show Awards held during the Goafest 2023.

“Trends will come and go and, in some cases, even circle back with a new name or facade. Design is the heart of anything, it is the one which is pumping blood, and therefore should work on all five senses,” he added.

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