Janardhan Pokala is a multi-disciplinary Creative Director based out of Chennai. With his primary practice firmly rooted in copywriting and brand strategy, he helps some of the world’s most well-known brands navigate, create and lead meaningful change.
Why are you into Brand Building?
I’ve always been passionate about understanding people’s behaviour – why they act a certain way, what makes them tick and things of that nature. 10 years ago, when I got the opportunity to use that understanding to solve complex business challenges daily, I jumped at it and haven’t looked back ever since.
Did you attend school for fine art or design or communications?
No. Like most people in India, I graduated with an engineering degree.
You have worked for some very diverse and interesting places. Can you tell you something about this journey.
If I’m being honest, what I am today is a result of these diverse experiences. Adwants gave me the space to sharpen my craft and mature as a creative. Be Positive 24 made me reevaluate my benchmarks and step out of my comfort zone every so often. And ampersand taught me the importance of timely action.
Throughout my career, I was fortunate enough to work with some of the most accomplished leaders in the industry. And sharing a work desk with them meant learning from their experiences instead of making my own mistakes every single time.Read more
Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
Not always. Burger King is one of the most awarded brands in the world, but their market share reflects a different picture. At the same time, brands like Apple and Nike have managed to make award-winning work work for them.
While I do not believe in awards, I do believe that they play a crucial role in getting good work discovered and the people who created it recognised. Beyond that, I don’t think one is, in any way, dependent on the other.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Quite the opposite. I grew up watching a lot of poorly-written films and ads being made in our country. And I told myself – I’ll never create one of those.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in brand building?
Without a doubt – Bill Bernbach, Paula Scher and Rory Sutherland. Bernbach’s approach to advertising, Paula’s principles on graphic design and Rory’s views on behavioural economics have pretty much shaped my career.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
From the world around me! That’s why I never allow my creatives to wear headphones inside the office. When we tune out, we miss so much of what could potentially become inspiring work.
Tell us something about the work environment at Engadgetly Inc.
Having worked in agency settings for nearly a decade, I didn’t know what to expect of Engagedly. To my surprise, the work culture has been one of the best things about the organisation. Very open, friendly and supportive.
Do you have any kind of a program to nurture and train young talent?
A mentorship programme is in the works. More on that very soon!
What about new and young filmmakers/photographers? Do you consciously keep looking for newer talent and try someone completely new?
All the time. As a creative, I’m always looking for new ways to solve old problems. And working with someone new almost always opens up so many possibilities.
What is your typical brief like?
No two briefs are the same. But most of the time, clients reach out to me because they’ve tried something, and it didn’t work. So they want a fresh and more refined approach to their brand.
Essentially, brand transformation.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
Understand what good work is. Develop a thicker skin and never settle – even when your agency leaders ask you to compromise. Especially then.
What is your dream project?
Any brief that has the potential to have a positive impact on people beyond just monetary measures is a dream project for me.
Mac or PC?
Mac, all the way.
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Marshall Mathers. His music has had a profound impact on my life, and his journey has been one of my biggest inspirations.
What’s on your iPod? Spotify?
Mostly hip hop – Eminem, Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, NF and some old-school artists like Tupac, Nas and Biggie. And some classical music, of course.
What’s your Twitter Handle? Instagram?
I don’t use Twitter much. You can follow me on Instagram @janardhanpokala