Kenya Shilling Identity

Bob's your uncle!

As patriotic Kenyans, we are always looking at ways of improving our nation’s image through design. We hope our experiments can contribute to the discussion on how elements of design can impress upon the Kenyan identity substantively.

 

Background

The Kenya Shilling, “Bob” to his friends, was born in 1966 and is the most traded currency in the East African region. Kenya is the financial hub of East Africa and the mobile money capital of the world – so Bob gets involved in transactions quite a lot. Despite other regional countries having their own currencies, the Kenya Shilling is acceptable as legal tender in parts of neighbouring Uganda, Tanzania, Southern Sudan and Somalia.

At the moment, the abbreviations KES and KShs are utilised in lieu of a symbol for the Kenyan Shilling. In order to gain its rightful place at the table of the most influential currencies in the world and help advance Kenya’s soft power agenda, Bob – an important component in regional commerce – needs his own symbol.

We took it upon ourselves at ARK to come up with one.

 

Design thinking

In our design proposal for the new Kenya Shilling symbol, we took the uppercase letter ‘K’ representing Kenya, combined it with two parallel lines to represent the “=” symbol. Arithmetically, the equality sign is a function that shows balanced relationships between items of the same value – a relationship that forms the basis of money as a medium of exchange. This equivalence “certifies” the stability of the Shilling.

This congruent symbol has been used stylistically before in currency symbols such as the Turkey Lira, the Costa Rica Colon and the Mongolia Tughrik, where it is employed diagonally, or more obviously for the Dollar where it is used vertically. Our symbol also has to be adequately distinguishable from the Laos Kip on the right above, the only other currency symbol currently based on the letter K.

The secret formula

We then incorporated the equality sign to work with the letter K. Visually, the design brings geometric balance and aesthetic flow to the symbol.

 

The Kenya Shilling Symbol

 

More importantly, it also lends itself well to easy writing by hand.
The result – a new Kenyan Shilling symbol that comfortably fits into the family of world currency symbols, and clearly stands its ground.

Bob’s your uncle!

In design terms we feel that it is a tidy solution that borrows from the proper and principled characteristics of Kenyan design heritage.

To enable some of the applications shown here to be realised, this symbol would have to be adopted by the governing body, the Central Bank of Kenya, after which we’d only have to get it inducted into the Unicode Consortium… and Bob’s your uncle!

We are looking forward to proudly embracing our shilling and affording it pride of place amongst the great currencies of the world. Lets make this a reality and #adoptbob

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Monocle Magazine Feature

Monocle Issue 66 – September 2013

Just as we hoped, the pursuit to give our beloved shilling an identity has been garnering a lot of attention. Feedback from KOT on #adoptbob has largely been in support of embracing the idea to take our currency to the next level. The debate even flagged up on Hacker News and the buzz was certainly engaging.

But the pinnacle of all the traction so far has been featuring in the renowned Monocle magazine. Coverage in what we think is the coolest magazine on the planet is definitely a significant step in ushering the idea of a Kenya Shilling symbol into a reality.

This snowball can only get bigger.