Knowledge Center


Once Upon a Doug is memorable because it realises that the world has grown tired of poverty porn and there is more to social good than marketing the grim details of life.

A non-profit initiative, it sells cloud-shaped baubles stitched from recycled fabrics by women from cotton-farming communities.

Dependent on erratic monsoons for cotton-farming, a capital-intensive exercise to begin with, these women had come to associate clouds with worry and unsurety. By shaping the baubles as clouds, the brand has turned them into symbols of hope and stability and appropriately named them Doug – derived from ‘Dhug’, the Marathi word for cloud.

Centring the brand on creative symbolism also differentiates it from others that solely rely on heavy facts to guilt people into making a purchase. Symbols, on the other hand, represent ideas and emotions that foster relatability. They automatically make people want to buy into a brand.

Moreover, the sweet symbolism captured in the little cloud-shaped bauble makes it smoother for the cause to slip into everyday life; rather than getting put on hold for times when people are ready to take on heavy thinking. The badging prompts curiosity from the onlooker and facilitates an increase in awareness, where the conversation starter isn’t a disturbing stat supported by a stricken face but a cute pattern on a soft trinket.

Wearing the bauble on your self – as a hairband, bracelet or neckpiece – also reminds that change is not only brought on by grand gestures or handsome donations, even the little that you can afford to contribute can have a significant impact on someone’s life.

The exercise of turning sorrow into joy continues through Once Upon a Doug’s light-hearted tonality. Take ‘Once Upon a…’, articulated so to remind of fairy tales where if conflicts are assured so are happy resolutions.

This cheerful approach reflects in the visual design as well. The pink, blue and red colour combination. The pleasing inconsistencies that show in the logo where the words are scrawled in uneven handwriting, and the pink circular background is almost fully coloured in leaving a few white gaps. The changing patterns inside the cloud’s outline – indicative of the fabric scraps used to create Doug – add to the upbeat appearance.

NGOs and cause marketing can often become earnest, angry and guilt-tripping. But this brand tugs at the heart through hope and with a light touch.

It retains the dignity of the people at the centre of its cause and encourages your contribution through positivity; showing them as equals, in a happy and empowered light.

All images taken from Once Upon a Doug