9 Dec 2016, 11:02 — 9 min read
Traditionally, most Indian architects, designers and design practices have shied away from communication practices that aid in generating business. However, in today’s interconnected world, communications is invariably crucial for the success of a business. Tanya Khanna established Epistle Communications with the aim of bridging this gap - helping design firms of all kinds access the communication tools they need to make their mark.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), Tanya Khanna (TK) shares her journey from the stage where she realised a specialised communications facility was required for design firms to the present where she finds herself leading a flourishing practice that takes her vision forward.
GL: Tell us about your business and how it came into being.
TK: Traditionally, most Indian architects, designers and design practices have steered away from communication and marketing activities, persisting instead in modest and reclusive brilliance. However, in today’s globalised markets, creating worldwide opportunities for design and facilitating it as a business becomes crucial. Also, originality and creativity often gets lost in the deluge of information constantly vying for our attention. Within this milieu, I set up Epistle Communications, providing bespoke strategic communication consulting for design, architecture and allied industries. As an architect and designer, I strongly feel that there is a gap that exists between design and practice and it was with this intent to ‘bridge the gap’ that Epistle was conceived. At Epistle, we understand the culture, pressures and aspirations of ambitious practices and what they seek to achieve, often on a limited budget.
As a professional architect with over a decade of global experience in Corporate Communications and Strategy within the AEC, design, real estate and media domain, I strongly believe in collaboration, and hence our team is diverse- architects, journalists, graphic designers, management specialists, web designers etc.
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
TK: The foremost challenge was to alter the notion that good design speaks for itself, provided it is given a voice.
In the current scenario of information overload, originality and creativity simply gets lost in the deluge of data produced globally. By working closely with our clients, I have gradually created opportunities for them to showcase their work in appropriate forums. This enables better discourse and significantly improves future prospects for innovative practices. This probably is the biggest challenge still as most designers still struggle with the distinction between PR and Communications. We are not a PR Agency that is creating generic stories. We aid in communicating design work purely based on process and the strength of design. Being a professional architect, the relationship with our clients is more engaged.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
TK: The biggest barrier to success for young design firms is rarely creativity. Securing visibility for good work greatly helps in fostering public appreciation. Epistle Communications has created a niche in the Indian design industry where nothing like this ever existed and is proud to be furthering the cause of good design in the sub-continent. By helping young and innovative Indian firms achieve access to better projects via proper project packaging, Epistle Communications is proud to be furthering the cause of good design and architecture in the sub-continent.
The fact that we come from a design background, and understand the technicalities of the industry is what makes us unique. Epistle is not just another PR agency that is offering generalised services, or guaranteeing a minimum number of stories or leads. We provide a holistic communications experience.
In my experience over the last decade, visibility across diverse media automatically leads to new business by simply establishing credibility, aided by communication and outreach activities. We have worked in the past and are currently working with many industry leaders in the field of design and design education, running various campaigns that have successfully established them as brands of repute.
GL: What are some of the milestones of your business?
TK: Success to me, represents the change in outlook of the clients that I have been working with and their subsequent success. The foundation of doing this begins with the intention for discourse, dialogue and exchange of design ideas. First, the designers allow their work to be curated to suit the various forms of media outreach. Second, this proliferation of good design in the media furthers the quality of our built environment by inspiring students and younger people in the profession who have conventionally attached value only to savvy images created by developers.
Success finds its way through this platform of design discourse through various media. These clients want to communicate their thought processes, how their designs represent their intentions and its final impact on the evolution of contemporary Indian Design- which is my personal achievement in furthering the cause of design. Our clients’ victories are the biggest testimonials- when they win national and international awards, we know we have been successful. Even though we work behind the sceneswhen they win awards and get published the victory is still ours.
GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting and assisting SMEs?
TK: In India, there is a significant lack of exposure to global communication practices. GlobalLinker is furthering this cause and enabling learnings, especially for SMEs and also providing access to inspirational industry leaders.
GL: What is your big business dream?
TK: I am not super ambitious; I would rather focus on quality over quantity and stay honest to that ethos. The fact that Indian architects are being recognised on international platforms through Epistle is a great achievement- And I would like to do whatever it takes to further that. Today, our efforts have resulted in a lot of media attention for Indian designers- from small 5-10 people practices to large 100 people firms. If anyone would think of Communication Services in the Design industry – they should think of Epistle. We believe in staying accessible and affordable to all- Almost always, we work with the clients’ budgets- to meet their aspirations. We don’t want to and in fact don’t work for large firms only- Every story and every designer deserves to Be Known.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
TK: Firstly, respect and thank your mentors and role models. I am grateful to all the people I have been associated with in the past and have good relationships with them. Our past and current clients are my most important role models. With their keen artistic sensibilities and understanding, they represent meaningful, contemporary Indian architecture. Without their content I would not be inspired to run Epistle. Entrepreneurs should not become egoistical with success. Stay grounded and stay willing to Learn. The learning never stops. Today, as Epistle finishes 5 years, I think we are ready to take on a new set of learning- the market is always changing and to believe that you have perfected it all simply through indicators of monetary success would be the biggest deterrent to growth. On a more spiritual note; honesty and a focus on quality is what brings us trust from clients and more work. A good word always goes a long way. That is our single-minded effort always.
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Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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