Nigerian Rebrands of 2018: Ratings
Whatever the motivation of a rebrand is—age, evolution, change of direction, merger or the realization of what was nothing more than a founding-stage improvisation—where done right, it comes with a lot of advantages which includes the opportunity to maximize consumer behaviour, attract new customers, reinforce loyalty among old customers and renew brand spirit among employees. The impact of a refreshed identity on a company’s brand perception and bottomline cannot be overemphasized.
Rebrands come with consequences, and these go beyond the immediate public reactions. While a rebrand begins before and goes beyond the visual identity, the logo which is the first point of interaction visual interaction with a brand is of immense importance. With examples like Union Bank (2015) rebrand bringing fresh energy through their logo, visual system, products, and campaign to say “hey, people, we have stopped being just your grandpa’s bank, we are now yours”, not much can be said about a lot of rebrands we saw in 2018.
This article evaluates rebrands of 2018, with emphasis on the most obvious—logo design changes, rating the progression from ‘before to after’, on a scale of 1-10. It is unavoidably subjective, but influenced by insights gained from my years of work in brand design and conversations within my online community.
1. EbonyLife TV
To celebrate its fifth anniversary celebrations, EbonyLife—a lifestyle and entertainment media group—launched what they called “a colorful look across a range of new services.” This includes the redesigning of the logo mark of EbonyLife TV (a broadcast on DStv and StarTimes in Africa; and on Flow in some Caribbean countries). According to the CEO, Mo Abudu, “the new look is a fresh and exciting way to start our sixth year… We have many surprises in store.”
With no doubt, this new look is a total surprise on its own, it made a shocking dash from an identity that was classy (yes maybe too classy) to a poor attempt at being colourful. The redesign aligns with the CEO’s statement of redirection and that’s a good point on its own but it could have been better executed as the new logo looks rushed with a poor combination of fonts and other elements of the new identity.
Rating: From 5 to 4. Good rebrand direction but poor execution.
Here was a rebrand largely influenced by Konga’s merger with Yudala. What used to be Konga and Yudala now operate with the trademark of the former, the two CEOs dividing responsibilities, with one managing the online portfolio and the other superintending the offline chain. The new logo is simple adoption of the purplish pink colour which was synonymous with Yudala and Konga’s bold typeface and signature smiley which connotes the happiness and satisfaction users get after a transaction. The ‘.com’ was also dropped from the logo as the brand now prides in its capacity both online and offline.
While the rationale is easy to understand and the new colour helps to communicate the merger, retaining the yellow colour of the smiley and combining it with the new pink appears more awkward than pleasing.
Rating: 7 to 6. Good idea but with an avoidable colour combination gap.
The new logo for the radio and online broadcasting company, Television Continental (TVC) was unveiled in November 2018, in what was described as a move to solve the problem that the previous logo posed: old fashioned and dull. The new brand, as the CEO (TVC Communications) puts it, is to reflect their core audience of people aged 15-39 who are young and modern, ambitious, bright, international in their look, yet very much Nigerian and fiercely proud of it.
The old logo really did sit well alongside those of global TV stations like BBC and CNN, but was truly not in anyway fitting for the new direction. We can expect the new logo to do a good job to help people perceive them as young and exciting. The execution could have been better, however, as the TV and C currently look like two different ideas forced together, and that particular idea of dots for the C looks rather cliche.
Rating: 5 to 6. Not a bad one.
4. Deeper Life Bible Church
Although it moves from line-based to colour-filled and glowing, which is the opposite of how the design world has progressed, the Deeper Life Bible Church logo redesign looks like the church decided to give its logo some liberty, as opposed to the lean and bare approach which is synonymous with the church’s distinctive doctrines and members’ lifestyle.
While the old logo was minimal—which is a good approach for logos in this age, and the new one trying a bit harder, both retained a composition of symbols that are way too literal in illustration and hence weak for an identity, especially when you think about how many random churches (of the maybe 10 million churches in Nigeria—exaggerated wild guess) use a logo based on a cross sitting on an open bible. However if it has to remain that way, the latter approach really does look better. It is also noteworthy that the church’s name now has a better position and prominence in the new design. On that, you would wonder what the designer of the old logo was thinking.
Rating: 4 to 5. Near-future rebrand necessary. Good for now.
5. Phillips Consulting
The unveiling of the new logo of Phillips Consulting marks a new phase in the life of the 26-year-old firm. A major motivation was to de-emphasize the name of the founder, Phillips Foluso and promote the brand more as “pcl”. The small case “pcl” with the dot gives the brand a modern and approachable outlook that works great for a brand trying to focus more on its future rather than its past.
While that is said, one opposing perspective from Perez Tigidam (Group Creative Director at Arden & Newton) via one of the online review conversations, is among several other great contributions on these rebrands, selected for mention. He noted the loss of the class, respect and prestige that was easily associated with the old while the new one looked like that of a startup trying to find its footing. Thought-provoking.
Rating: Still, 6 to 8. Good development.
Nigeria’s first and one of its leading betting companies, NairaBET introduced a rebrand which looks intended to distinguish it from competitors who have all tended towards a red-and-green similar look. This they achieved with a blue and orange colour combination that no other brand in the industry uses.
Maybe a clever use of the naira sign with the green retained and combined with a new colour could have been a possible direction, as the “okay” hand-gesture depiction does not only fail to connect with the brand, but is also similar to that of Betensured and appears in a number of other identity marks. A good analogy in connecting to the brand would be to imagine that it was their competitor, Bet9ja who comes with the “okay” gesture. It would have been perfect for such a brand name that sounds like a call-to-action. On the other hand, NairaBET could really have considered being creative with the Naira sign, given its name and the fact that it ‘promises’ a rain of the currency for its customers.
One other necessary comment on this rebrand would be the launch and introduction of the new identity to the public, which was seemingly absent for a street-wide kind of audience. I think they could have done better to carry their customers along with the change, than random teaser pictures on Twitter, followed by a change of shop signages across the country.
Rating: 4 to 5. Some progress.
7. LindaIkeji TV
Sometime in 2017, the popular blogger, Linda Ikeji shared her intention to own a television station, instead of having to work as a reporter. With this came a logo but the idea didn’t quite get off the ground until a few months later when she reintroduced the brand with a new identity.
The revival came with an entire redevelopment, including a logo and app design that no one could believe, due to its starking difference (and improvement) from everything we had ever seen with Linda (from her blog to the social network project). She gladly expressed her satisfaction, saying she was apparently lucky to meet and work with good hands “this time”. Leaving a proper selection process to random chance probably explains why the blog and other extensions appear and remain the way they are.
Rating: 4 to 8. Great leap. Think PUMA!
8. Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON)
The old logo, which had the name of the organization written twice, among other things that could have been done better, obviously needed to be simplified but maybe that popular “correct” mark was one to be retained, given that the primary function of the logo was to indicate approval from the organization on products.
Worse was the launch of the logo, or the seeming absence of it. Save for some press conference, there was way too little public awareness on the new logo, and it got to a point where a video went viral online in which some people ignorantly brandished some canned drinks as fake, pointing to the difference in the logo of SON. This is one case that highlights the importance of a due process that adequately caters for pre-design, design, unveil and post-launch, all which one would not expect to see if as it just might have been, the job was given to some brilliant nephew to “come up with something”.
Rating: 4 to 4. Lemme.
9. Skye to Polaris
The Central Bank of Nigeria revoked the license of Skye Bank and temporarily handed the management of the bank to the leadership of what is for now a bridge bank. Rebranded “Polaris Bank”, the entire change has been obviously rushed and the visual identity has not escaped this.
While the logo works, although with a strong claim online of it being a stolen idea, the implementation on the signages have been poor, with the entire registered name, “Polaris Bank Limited” written boldly alongside a logo that has already “Polaris Bank”. This helps to give some more credence to questioning the credibility of the rebranding process. Skye Bank looked way better.
Rating: 7 to 5, or say 4. Avoidable error.
It’s 2019 and we have already had Sterling Bank unveil a new logo, one to talk about later. However it is imperative for companies looking to rebrand to maximize the change as a once-in-a-long-time opportunity to get it right, being fully aware that it can go wrong. If you were born a century ago and had to bear tribal marks but you could choose who to do the cutting… think about it. The patience, emphasis on portfolio, expertise and an understanding of the process before hand, and an adherence to it, the list goes on. We need to see more rebrands done like that in 2019. Sterling Bank has gone first with their unveiling, 6 days into the new year. It does work and the icon is neater than the previous, but a few valid criticisms highlight flaws that could have been avoided with a more thorough and informed branding process. Maybe I will write a review on that sometime soon.
On Nigerian banks rebranding in past 10 years, which of them is next? Did someone say Zenith Bank?
Victor Fatanmi, Co-founder and Senior Partner at FourthCanvas