12 minute read
Now more than ever, engaging Africans to speak with one voice on building a resilient and innovative Africa is paramount in the quest to realize both the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union Agenda 2063, while embracing the impending single market that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will give rise to.
Anna Ekeledo, Executive Director, AfriLabs
We, at Afroshok, were extremely excited to be approached to pitch for the AfriLabs rebrand. I knew of AfriLabs from my days at the iHub, where iHub was one of the initial five members of AfriLabs when it was founded in 2011. We submitted our pitch on the 6 of July 2021. It was to be ready by the AfriLabs Annual Gathering that was to be held in Abuja in October 2021.
Before 2011, as the innovation hub wave spread across the continent, the new tech hubs across Africa were working on their own. With time it became obvious that, as the hubs dealt with their local geographic challenges, they would need an organized platform on which to network, collaborate, and share knowledge. This is the vacuum that AfriLabs’ founders sought to fill.
The First Decade
The second decade of the 21st century saw rapid changes on the African continent as the effects of the “western” economic slowdown set in. There was a large amount of venture capital that was looking in the global technology space and Africa was not to be left out.
AfriLabs grew into a network organization of 347-member tech hubs in 52 countries (as of June 2022). This network has aided African inventors in multiple ways. AfriLabs has made it easier for members to communicate and thereby share knowledge and best practices. They are also able to co-pilot initiatives and collaborate on projects with relative ease. This increases efficiency and goes a long way in the fulfilment of AfriLabs’ mission: ‘To support innovation hubs and their communities, to raise high potential entrepreneurs that will stimulate economic growth and social development in Africa.’
Innovation centres have been playing a crucial role in catalysing the debate on technology across Africa over the past years leading more and more stakeholders, ranging from governments to the private sector, to further investigate the work these organisations do and the challenges they face. AfriLabs offers capacity building, financing, networking, policy advocacy, and provides insightful, reliable data to facilitate this important role.
2021 was the 10th year of AfriLabs existence. An AfriLabs team met to ponder on how to make the next ten years even more remarkable for the community of tech hubs. One of the decisions was to rebrand.
The process started with a Brand Audit and Brand Discovery workshops to establish what the brand position was and the area it occupied within the tech ecosystem as a whole. If one was to take the persona of the brand, this is how it should be experienced.
The aim is to get the AfriLabs values and create a Brand DNA. This is what all the people in the organisation and those who are outside the organisation who come into contact, through communication and interaction, with the AfriLabs brand should “see and feel”.
The AfriLabs team were very engaged and were able to give insight on who AfriLabs are and how they work. This was important to get an idea of where the organisation is in order to use that as a base in which to build on. These were the core values that surfaced from the engagement.
- Trust / Integrity
These are reinforced in the daily departmental meetings, bi-weekly organisation and annual AfriLabs gathering. The other values that surfaced are:
There is also a concerted push towards the Francophone African communities and the African Diaspora to make AfriLabs truly African.
We put together the values and distilled them to contextualise how the brand is experienced inside of AfriLabs and outside by the hubs and the partners.
Now that we had the values in place, we then put together a “mood” board to guide the design themes that were to be developed.
The new brand identity was chosen based on the following reasons:
AfriLabs has an “inclusive” culture, with women heading AfriLabs organisation very well. As Afroshok, we are biased towards art, craft and design that reveals the Africa we know and love. We were inspired by the Zulu and Maasai neck ornaments worn by women as adornment, demonstrating the AfriLabs’ Pan Africanism, which is one of the core values, and our continent-wide reach.
The previous brand identity is composed of 3 connected rings. We used these elements to transition into the new decade by multiplying the elements and straightening it to show the movement of knowledge and experiences, outwards and inwards, between the hubs and the organisation.
This visual interaction involves AfriLabs providing support and knowledge, as well as training and funding from AfriLabs’ partners. The entrepreneurs, in return, provide knowledge and learnings around innovation and the entrepreneurial experience. This is in line with our communal values as an organisation.
We created a colour palette that extended from the original AfriLabs blue, adding tints, tones and complementing colours.
We presented a logo mark with the complementary orange. The form represents AfriLabs’ Pan African, communal nature around the hubs and the partners. The blue signifies the expanse of the sky and the sea, the orange was to bring in the sun that Africa is so well known for, in good and bad ways as well as the different communities and cultures within the network of hubs and partners.
We were also looking for a transition, a way to see the progression of the old logo in the new logo. So, while the form was accepted, the colours were changed to softer tones of orange, green and dark blue. We were sure that these colours would be more profound and represent AfriLabs’ vision.
We chose a typeface that better represented the transformation into a bigger, bolder organisation and also matches the equally logomark.
The New Brand Identity
After many discussions across the organisation and iterations, the rebranded logo mark and typeface attained acceptance as a representation of the values of AfriLabs which are ubuntu/pan Africanism, innovation, knowledge sharing, and courage.
AfriLabs already has a large collection of brand assets, including social media profiles. We created an elaborate set of guidelines that would be used by inhouse designers as well as partner communication teams to create coherent visuals that push the brand.
We took the brand identity and created some motion graphics for adding onto video content and for social media.
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