The Rupee’s Identity

The success of an identity program depends on it’s acceptance among the people using it. The Indian Rupee has always been written as an abbreviation (Rs.) followed by the amount. It was a long journey to shortlisting and finalisation. Introduced in July 2010 after its approval by the cabinet, it was one of the fastest adoptions I have ever seen, even though it would take over a year to evolve the computer standard. It took on a life of its own and became the preferred way to depict the currency within weeks after the official proclamation – in ads in the newspapers, on TV and every other medium. It’s as if the whole of India was just waiting for the right identity to come along and took to it instantly.

Every marketing manager knows the problems in identity design and roll out. Getting the right colour, the right dimensions and ensuring that it is followed by all involved is an exercise in monumental patience and execution. In the case of the rupee, it was a fortuituous decision, given the layers of bureaucracy that it had to go through and emerge unscathed. This was one decision by committee that worked. The simplicity and the similarity to the global currencies set the stage. And the symbol performed as soon as it hit the presses.

And what about the designer, the man behind the symbol? Udaya Kumar is a professor at IIT, Guwahati  – “Had I been working for a corporate, I would have made much more money but wouldn’t have earned a fraction of the honour”, he said in an interview to the Times of India. And on getting it right, he said – “I spent endless nights on trial and error. The symbol had to have universal design features while staying Indian in spirit. Most international currencies have double strokes such as the Australian dollar, Korean yen, the Euro or the Lira. The feature pronounces its identity as a currency”. Most designers will never have the privilege of having touched so many lives