Studio Simple : In A Chat With Sainath Saraban

One fine day, I quit as National Creative Director of Leo Burnett, India in 2015 and moved to the USA. I set up Simple Creative Inc. there as a pure creative consultancy. And In 2020 I felt the need to do something in India. I shared the idea of starting Studio Simple in India with two friends, Aniket- who has been a successful director/producer, and Anjan – who has worked in traditional agencies, design firms and run his own creative start-up. They agreed and here we are. 

What made you start Studio Simple?
We wanted to do something creative and constructive together as friends. And each of us has unique, yet complementary skill sets. We put our heads together and went for it with the intention of getting it right. It’s more fun to build something of value using our collective talent and experience. We were confident of our business model and knew that this is the way to work in the future.

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Tell us about your crew. Did they go into fine art or design schools? How do you pick them up?
None of us went to school or college to do what we do. Our school has been our workplace. We’ve been hands-on and we have crafted our creative personalities by being thirsty for knowledge.

Our extended crew changes with each project and the people we work with come from the best institutes and the best outfits whether they’re strategists, creative folk or film crew.

Can you tell us the process of building a design language for a brand?
Design language is similar to the brand voice. The brand will tell you what it stands for if you spend time with it and listen to it hard enough. To give you an example, when I wrote ‘Aaj Kuch Toofani Karte Hain’ for Thums Up, it came from the brand’s legacy of being a strong cola and I gave it an emotional spin without diluting what the brand stood for.

So, the best way is to know the brand inside out is treat it like a person and spend time knowing it on a daily basis. That will show you the way.

What does Studio Simple do which sets it apart?
“Why buy a cow when all you need is a glass of milk?”

That’s the mantra we live by. No overheads. No employees. No office-space. The three of us work in a very agile and effective manner. And it works beautifully for us. I divide my time between Washington DC and Mumbai. Aniket lives in Mumbai and Anjan in Delhi. We work across countries, time-zones and do it seamlessly.

Also, we pick our teams according to the need of the project. We employ a process of casting in every aspect of our business. The best person for each job ensures great quality. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is not fair to a client or an idea for that matter.

Video is a very hands-on job. How do you bring economies of scale here?
The fact that you get everything from strategy to creative to the final output with us, is a model that is created to give the clients economies of scale without diluting the creative product. Having said that, we charge what we charge and the clients are happy to pay us because they know we don’t compromise on any part of the process. We are cost-effective, not cheap.

Tell us something about Brand Building in the Digital Era.
Much harder, but more exciting. When we were doing TV commercials a decade ago, we did one spot and that ran across all channels. There was a sense of forced singularity and it needed to be on point. Now it is fragmented, because the brands can choose to behave differently across different media outlets. A brand might need to adopt an influencer’s style and work their narrative around it. The challenge is to maintain brand values while being versatile in your offering.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Too many to name. We are inspired on a daily basis by creative people who put stuff out there and we learn and absorb their energy through their output.

Who was the most influential personality on your career in Brand Building?
Naming one is impossible. We have learnt things from the legends from a distance and we have learnt stuff from our colleagues who selflessly do amazing work while remaining anonymous. We are an amalgamation of the work done by great people every single day.

Any other Indian branding/advertising firms that you admire?
We admire individual pieces work from different agencies, creative shops and social/digital joints. Sometimes the greatest work comes from a person with a smartphone shooting a cheaply produced, yet spot-on piece of creative that racks up millions of views and shares.

What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
Take the time.
Give the time.
Know why you’re doing this.
Feed your subconscious on a daily basis with a variety of influences.

Would you advise them to take on advertising/brand building as a career option?
Absolutely. The best time to be creative is now. You have all the power to create stuff right there in the palm of your hands. But it is also a very challenging time because everyone knows this fact and the clutter and speed of output is insane. You’ve got to be consistent and put content out continuously. Do not stop.

Who would your team like to take out for dinner?
We are very big on gratitude as a team. So, we’d like to host all our clients- present and past. They’ve trusted us solely on our past reputation and credentials. They’ve given us the freedom to handle some really amazing projects. It is both humbling and gratifying. They will always have a seat at our table.

What’s on the company iPod? Spotify?
We don’t impose our musical choices on each other. But we do collectively nod our heads in approval for classic rock. The usual Gods – Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, CCR…you get the drift.

Mac or PC?
Notebooks and pens. We’re pretty organic in how we generate ideas. Nothing like putting pen to paper before getting that laptop out.

What’s your Twitter Handle? Instagram?
Coming soon! Just been way too busy to get this going.

3 thoughts on “Studio Simple : In A Chat With Sainath Saraban

  1. A. S.Vittal Rao says:

    A few of Creative Pinnacles viz. hp
    ICICI Bank Kinley etal. I am proud of your creative team to move away from cleched approach Way to go… Attaboy

  2. A. S.Vittal Rao says:

    A few of Creative Pinnacles viz. hp
    ICICI Bank Kinley etal. I am proud of your creative team to move away from cleched approach Way to go… Attaboy
    Cliched …

  3. Buvana Sharma says:

    You might call yourselves “Studio Simple”. But your work is GIGANTIC & wishing you & your team success that matches that!
    A quote from the movie Bawarchi comes to mind……”It’s simple to be happy, but it’s very difficult to be SIMPLE!”
    So proud of you Sai!

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