• Brand Communication and Emojis

    Everything we do at ARK is based on communication. Everyday we roll into work and ask ourselves “How can we take A and deliver it as clearly, palatably and compellingly as possible to client X  and their audience?“ 

    That is why we were particularly intrigued by this change in normal text language known as emoji. One major event in the recent history of communication has affected the way we communicate today. Digital communication. A large number of us use smartphones, and with smartphones came the wide-spread use emoji in our daily converse. Today, they are a universally understood digital attribute of pop culture. Adding context and emotion to everyday communication. They appeal to today’s busy & cluttered world of communication where we all strive for brevity and clarity.   

    Yes, like anything else when abused, it can be annoying. However, this new universal language adds a layer of creativity to written language, for people and brands alike. Apple found a branding opportunity in emojis. The headphones on an iPhone appear as Apple EarPods and the iPhone as an icon for smartphones.

    Not to say that all brands should rush out and customise an emoji, but there’s room for everyone to participate. Brands could use emojis in their social media messages to add fun, colour and personality to their brand language.

    The world doesn’t need emoji but who knows, maybe one day it’ll be the conventional way of communicating. While we wait for that to happen, here’s a quick run down of the history of emoji, in emoji . 







  • Print Lives!

    World Cup 2014 is over and it certainly wasn’t disappointing. Nothing got the people going like the Brazil vs Germany match. From the aficionados, to the laggards, to those who just didn’t give a hoot about the Cup, everyone was captured, engaged and astounded. 

    Seeing “1-7” on the scoreboards was bad enough, but nothing depicted the churning maelstrom of emotions like the next day’s front pages. 

    Despite our little to non-existent understanding of Portuguese, Brazillian newspapers did a brilliant job of unanimously bringing home the messages of “humiliation” and “despair”. And all through the use of typography, graphics and imagery. 

    We’ve picked some of our favourite front pages (below) and noted a few best practices that were employed:

    • Imagery - Taking centre stage, large, hi-res & full of emotional impact, captured at the darkest hour. 
    • Typography - Reflected the weight of the article. One for the history books.
    • Headlines - Brief and bold statements that described the story and its emotion.
    • Use of negative space - Lending a certain feeling to the images and reflecting the atmosphere as was.  

    Virtually everything may have switched to online publication however, it has to be said that print still has its place. A much smaller place but nonetheless valid. Simple or complex, the way the story and graphics are designed is part of the news package as a whole. This occassion goes to show the power of visual communication is timeless. If done right, it will pull the reader in and relay the message.

    Hooray, PRINT LIVES!  


  • Shooting Your Rebrand In the Foot

    The importance of strong brands is now being recognised more than ever, at least in Africa, which is fantastic. Companies now have a deeper understanding of how brand strength affects their bottom lines, and consumers are now expecting more from brands due to availability of choice. 

    Recently, we saw Standard Group’s KTN and Nation Media Group’s Nation FM (formerly Easy FM) rebrand. However, the former’s latest brand refresh (in the form of a new logo) resulted in an embarrassing episode of publicised self criticism. 

    If your internal team aren't on the same page as you, neither can your target audience. 

    While obviously an internal communications blunder, the tweet-er did have a point. All rebrands should focus on the company’s communications with stakeholders. By failing to be consistent with the launch of their new logo on all platforms, the message failed to be delivered. Loose ends of “why?”, “who?”,“when?” are left hanging, possibly leading to a rebrand failure.

    Let people know that you are rebranding and explain why

    When a company decides to rebrand, it maybe to:

    • Clarify their future vision 
    • Reposition themselves in the market (Easy FM did this, thus changing to Nation FM)
    • Refresh the customer experience 
    • Refresh the visual expression
    Pitfalls to look out for :
    • Research and improve the negatives rather than changing the brand image completely 
    • Don’t just update the brand but make it better 
    • Little or no communication of big changes poses a high risk of a disconnect with customers 
    • Consider how the brand will look on all platforms, signage, digital, stationery, packaging…      
       everything and everywhere that it will be present.  
    How to get a rebrand right:
    • Research your target audience, other brands that have rebranded, competitors etc
    • Refer back to the company’s goals and positioning and understand them
    • Create a comprehensive creative brief. Cover the company's background, products or services, desired target market, competitors, style and tone etc
    • Contextualise and explain the rationale for the rebrand to stakeholders 
    • Be consistent with the rebrand rollout across all platforms 
    Starbucks ran an exemplary rebrand campaign
  • Did we just quote Yeezy?

    We never thought we’d ever be quoting Kanye West on branding but here goes, we promise it’s leading somewhere, "There would have been no Beats deal without the Samsung deal. It showed the No. 1 company the importance of connecting with culture.” He was talking, of course, about the Samsung partnership with Jay Z that exclusively gave 1 million Samsung smartphone users the Holy Grail album, prior to it’s official release date back in 2013.

    Years ago, a brand was born once a group of marketing and ad men sat in a room and decided on the positioning of the product. After which, they poured all the resources that they could get their hands on into mass market advertising. Fast forward to today, customers are now in the driving seat no matter how much money you pour into the advertising budget.  

    While we don’t necessarily agree with Yeezy’s opinions or even understand most of them, he does have a point. For any brand to become iconic there has to be a connection of relevance between the brand identity & function and consumers’ everyday lives. Beats is relevant in it's abiliy to marry pop culture and technology. The brand comes in a well designed package that sells (1) technology as the new arist and (2) the long loved tale of meritocracy. But once that connection is lost even the most iconic brands can fall from grace. After all, brand is the gut feeling that consumers have about you. If you are no longer of relevance to their lives, your brand is as good as obsolete. 

    "Samsung used culture as a way to get into the conversation. And that's why the Apple/Beats deal makes sense." Kanye West

    It is crucial to refresh your brand by diving into cultural conversation and staying relevant by doing it in a way that’s true to you and your customers. The best way to go about it is by looking at the brand from the outside in. Understand the pragmatics in current everyday culture, and from there you can best align it with your internal brand culture to build an emotional connection with customers. 

  • World Cup 2014 Is Here!...Almost

    While we eagerly anticipate the games and connection of the office DSTV  so that we can watch the 2014 World Cup, we decided to take a look at some of the team kits.  Particularly those of the African teams. 

    Cameroon's design features the Indomitable Lions in a tonal print, along with the country's silhouette, stars from the nation's flag, tribal prints and a football field

    The Puma designed Ghana and Cameroon kits are awesome. Ghana's home shirt adopts the distinct West African Kente pattern which embellishes the collar and partial sleeve in red, gold and green.  We were enlightened to the fact that different Kente cloth patterns have different names and significance in meaning.

    The vibrant prints and colours are a feast for the eyes. Ghana's Home and Away kits.

    Design is where function and form meet beautifully, and the Kente design embodies this. Each Kente item traditionally stands as a visual representation of either history, philosophy, ethics, oral literature, religious beliefs and political thoughts.

    For example, the OBI with its rich criss-crossing patterns,  is a symbol of forgiveness, conciliation, tolerance, patience and fairness. Associated with the maxim "Obi nkye obi kwan mu si". Loose translation, be forgiving when someone cuts across your path and steps on your toes, cause sooner or later you're likely to do the same to someone else. Wise words. 

    The epitome of design is something that can fulfil its function, visually communicate and simultaneously appeal to the eye. Thus the successful passing on of the Kente pattern from generation to generation.

    OBI Kente pattern, the patterns cut across each other's paths.

    Back to the kits. They're vibrant, African, symbolistic and according to some ARK fashionistas, bang on trend. We can't wait to see them on the field