Lessons Learned From A Train Wreck

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Why doesn’t a train provide seat-belts?

I asked myself that question when I found none in my train heading back to Yaounde,  I just said a prayer and fell asleep. Awakened, I ran a Google searchand the best answers came from my English friends.

Let them sort out the essentials, like cold beer, before demanding luxuries.
William Barrett, London, UK

Because as 90 per cent of all commuters have to stand due to overcrowding, it would seem a massive expense for only ten per cent of the travelling public.
Jon Trussler, St Albans, England


Despite the recent bad publicity, train crashes are very rare events. Typically 10 people a day die on the roads and there are about 100 road accident related injuries a day. On the railways in many years less than 10 passengers are killed in a year. Also because of the large momentum of trains the decelleration in a crash is less than with a car so although people are thrown about inside the carriage in rail accidents, the injuries they suffer tend not to be as horrendous.

John Miles, Cardiff UK


Very rare events…unfortunately this time was big time: the train -the same I took the day before- just crashed!

Cameroon is in the international news: “Please Lord, help this country to change, help us to change, make a change!” a survivor screamed at the medias. Death toll: 70 dead and counting, over 600 injured.

I deeply love Africa and my country, but I must admit: It’s hearthbreaking. You can feel it: people are tired and frustrated. We pray -really hard- here everyday but apparently not hard enough. Bollore, the french company owning the rolling stock “Camrail” is learning its business fundamentals the hard way.

How your company can learn from this failure? This is what we are going to discuss today.

Monopoly game is an illusion and can backfire
Cameroon is the country of “one”: one telecommunication provider, one airline carrier, one energy provider with no solar panel solutions -where the sun is beating like crazy 24/7-, one road between two big capitals, one to take you from your home to work, one train, one railroad… you got it. Don’t you think that in a country of 23 million people, “one” is a very bad number? Consequences: high prices, crippled services and products, bad customer service and quality.

Plan ahead or face the domino effect
The road linking Douala to Yaounde is the most dangerous in the country. It’s narrow, full of turns -with drivers gladly overtaking others-, hardly maintained, no rest areas, no emergency phones, the list goes on. But Nature like to kindly remind us our life support condition in this country, so it did cast the night before the accident an heavy storm that caused a bridge to collapse, dividing the road in the process. When you can’t take the road you hit the train, and when the train can’t be overloaded for security reasons, no one cares! We’ll gladly double the -cheap- wagons we have in stock for you. Thanks for your money.
Change: Keep greediness at bay, invest in solutions that will make your customers’ life easier tomorrow.

The power of communication & social media
Everybody has a smartphone. This should be the first thought running in an entrepreneur’s mind before tackling a business plan. The first one a Transport Minister should think about before going live. You can’t keep people from talking, you can’t just say that nothing happened and keep calm when people are recording and shooting people getting out of a train wreck like zombies, whatsapping about it. A rap song got even released the same day and went viral.
Change: the impact of words, images, videos, music is powerful.

Misperceived value and the power of caring
It’s just a plane, a train, a bus, a logo, a website, a video, an event…. why shall we care? “Just” give them -the customers- the bare necessities, the essentials. Big issues will never happen and they don’t care. Bad news: sh*t always happen and people do care!
Change: If you are in the game for the long run and trying to leave a strong company culture that will thrive without you, it’s time to act different: turn the “it’s just a __________” sentence into “it’s MORE than just a ______” this is where your strong value proposition reside. If you belittle your business value, how do you expect your future customers not doing the same?

A good business is supposed to care for its customers’ satisfaction and well being. That means avoiding shortcuts, not downplaying the huge importance of maintenance and having strong security policies. Putting hardly maintained wagons in circulation is pure madness. Running a cracked Windows version on all your organization’s desktops can cause the shutdown of your website and cost you! Buying a cheap identity because you “just” need it for your business cards to end up finding out that your competitor got the same logo [or way better.] or getting a lawsuit, can cost you! Trying to cut your promotional video lenght and you ended up with an inefficient, distorted and complex message.
Change: care for your audience, they deserve it.

Take full responsibility and apologise
Don’t blame others and call your business partners/team out. If something happens in your shop, under your watch, you are responsible. Especially if you are in a strategic position. 
Assess the problem right away
: communication, communication and communication. Camrail’s facebook got flooded by bad comments, they did reply but to a very few of them, which made the situation worse. We all fail, but facing failure “I’m sorry” are your best words. Learning  from your mistakes and promise to do better/plan ahead next time. You are in trouble when the same situation happens over and over again and you just feel “okay” about it.

Cheap behaviour is a global trend and it’s running very strong in Africa. Organizations, startups, entrepreneurs are always seeking solutions about how to minimise the costs, maximise the profits and they ALSO hope to provide/get quality. But what to do when this state of mind -melt with high corruption practices- is pushed to the extremes in places where the population’s welfare is jeopardized? 

IT’S REALLY TIME FOR A CHANGE!

How To Write Effective LinkedIN Invitations?

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Story 1:
After receiving multiple reminders telling you that you have a package to pick up, you call the company who let you know that the package is actually a free water tester kit that they’ll bring to you to test your water and then offer you service to improve your water at home.

Story 2:
You are waiting for important feedbacks from your prospects regarding the response you sent to assess their business inquiries. You then hear an email notification while you’re making your morning coffee. You rushing to your desktop, opening your browser, and discover mail  from someone in Africa who received a million dollar inheritance and need your help (i.e: bank account details) to recover it.

Uncomfortable truth: “We are surrounded by scams!” We’ve been the victims of cold calling/emailing or scam techniques and schemes for decades, now we can smell the sale from miles away. Today I will focus on LinkedIN’s most important feature: invitations.

LinkedIN is my favorite engagement tool. Unlike Facebook, Twitter or Instagram It aims at people who are down for business and networking. I’ve already told you about the 3 Things We Are Doing Wrong On LinkedIN let’s go deeper

  1. Profiles : a total stranger has put some time and effort to write his story (LinkedIN bio), please read it carefully! At least read the headline, ads that sell have short and efficient headlines. Once you’ll start reading it, you’ll ask genuine questions. Especially if you both share common activity fields. Note these questions down. They’ll be helpful.
  2. Activity : Activities are key elements on LinkedIN, they will tell you how many followers people got, the articles they put online, their likes  and comments.
  3. Groups : like Seth Godin said: “we are all part of a tribe”. I love marketing and advertising, social media and design. Where will I find professionals talking and sharing stories about the things I really care about and giving me the opportunity to bounce off ideas? In LinkedIN Groups! If you we are part of the same tribe, chances are our conversations will be interesting.
  4. Causes: what are your passions? Art and culture? Sports? Music? Animal lover?
    If you do, let me tell you something: we are already friends, but you don’t know it!

Now you know four aspects to take your engagement skill further. LinkedIN is all about connections and sending the right invitations to the right people. How to send and personalise an invitation? My friend and LinkedIN expert Viveka Van Rosen can help you do that.

A good advice: stay creative. Remind yourself that you are a stranger and an intruder on the wrong side of the gun. To sparkle my curiosity -and keep me from pulling the trigger 🙂 – tell me who you are: How did you find my profile? Did I say something interesting in it? Do we have connection in common? Are we in the same group? Did you like a post or comment I wrote? So many ways. Be original, make me smile or laugh in 300 characters. If you write a quote, instead of running your polite “looking forward to read from you” jargon you’re on a great start: “Great minds think alike”.

Should you copy and paste invitations? Sure, especially if you have a lot of them to send over! Just tweak them a bit to show that you really care. And please…oh please…spell my name correctly : Denzel and Lionel aren’t the same person. I wish they were! 🙂

Practice, practice, practice!  A great source of inspiration could be dialogue from movies, tv shows, even books/comics! Look how strangers start a conversation with a character you like.

An invitation example could go like this:
Hi XXXX
I just liked your comment in regard to __________. I hold a similar viewpoint. I wish to connect with people on the same wave length. Hope we’ll share interesting conversations around ________. Happy to connect!

In conclusion, what undermine our success is the obvious things we know but miss everyday. Make a goal to send five genuine LinkedIN connections everyday. Track your failure/success rate and adjust.

We all hate underhanded marketing and time-wasters. We get interrupted all the time, even by LinkedIN invitations coming from nowhere! YOU are the product. I strongly believe that you can help someone out there – out of your country –  by contacting directly and honestly and maybe -I’m sure!- a great conversation will follow!

Your turn! Please, inspire us now! Share your stories and some examples of your best invitations, the ones that worked for you, in the comment section below!

Hard Work Or Talent, Which Comes First?

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The 10.000 hours hands bleeding formula?

”…Life after college sucks. It really does. I mean, I don’t know, at least it did for me, but that’s the only thing I know. You just get a bit derailed. But soon something starts to happen, trust me. A rhythm sets in. Just like it did after your first few days here. Just try not to wait until, like me, you’re 29 until you find it. And if you are that’s fine too, some of us never find it…” – Peter Dinklage / Actor

Check those actors and artists out, what do you see? The fame, flashing lights and glory. Before that glorious day happens, did you know they were once kicked out in the streets without a dime or crashing in someone else’s couch for months…years? The vast majority of their peers that are still in the dark. The industry -Hollywood- is cruel. Many people, especially young graduates or artists, for obvious reasons, are craving for success. Very few end up successful, this is sad. How did they lost their groove? Many questions need to be asked and that’s what I’m going to talk about in this article.

What do you want to achieve?
Being clear about what you want to do is the key to your success. But be careful, money is everywhere and is clearly not what drives people to accomplish amazing things. What’s the money to an NBA athlete, multiple time MVP, without any rings? What’s the money to a terminally-ill oscar winning filmmaker? What’s the money to a football manager who won every championships except in one country? The list goes on. Please tell us: what is your clear vision of success?

Do you really have to count? 
Before getting to the Oscars, the championship trophies or rings, you’ll be hearing that there are no gains without pains. Huh, sorry, it doesn’t have to be painful! Today, you will play guitar (for example) until your finger hurt. Or you’ll beat those drums like crazy and bleed like Andrew in ‘Whiplash’ movie. Tomorrow it’s going to be another story. Another example, you’ll kill your eyes on the computer screen because you have to finish a design project. You forget that you have to be healthy. Do that thing you love everyday first, but don’t go insane losing your life balance. There’s no glory in getting no sleep or no social life, your craft needs those ingredients too, badly. Build a strong work ethic increments by increments. The 10.000 hours rules is a cliché, when you practice until it becomes second nature, you definitely lose the count.

Do you have it in you?
I have to confess, I jumped into the “Yes You Can Code!” bandwagon…I’ve downloaded 12 gigabytes of Android Development Course. As soon as I started, the only thing that captivates me was the UI/UX part. Coding? Pfff, I wanted to skip that part! I like to see things: the Desiiiiiign! It didn’t took me hours of video tutorial to figure this out. Just say no. When you dont’ feel like it, don’t waste your time.

Do you know the rules?
To play the blues you have to know your scales and guitar fretboard, there’s no way around. To gain speed you have to go slow and there are hands exercise for that. Drawing? Photography? They are all about actually learning to see the shapes or the light! Once you know the rules you’ll start break them and your own style will pop.

Do you bend your craft’s perception ?
Photographers don’t click buttons they see the different facets of light and serve them to you in a canvas; graphic designers are not copying and pasting things around, they are visual problem solvers; actors are amazing liars who embody the right doses of romance, drama or action that will make your heart move, no matter what. You know what they say about Miles Davis? That he could actually paint the music with his instrument. Wow!

Are you in constant state of awe?
If your not in the right mood, you’ll miss the shot. Before you do your daily practice, find inspiration and observe the masters at their craft. It can be a book, a video, a song, a concert. Masters will make you very uncomfortable, asking yourself “how does he/she do it?” until you get it right. 

Are you in the right environment?
There are countries where you’ll find that your industry is in very bad shape: no cinemas, very few creative agencies/music labels, no clear artists rights. To be ‘in the moment’ you’d need to go where amazing things are happening. Surrounding yourself with talents will tremendously improve your craft, the easiest way. Before that moment happens, you can use social media to link up, LinkedIN is a big house where the next amazing talent is one click or call away. I see no strangers here, just opportunities.

Where is/are your mentor(s)?
Mentor, it’s a rare species. They are the type of person you leave voicemails to. I once requested a mentorship and was asked to pay for it. Let’s be persistent and follow the people we admire to learn from them. They HAVE TO tell us how they got there and we should make our duty to relentlessly ask them.  A leader is nothing without the tribe.

Do you know that you suck?
Knowing something and doing something is two very different things. It’s in the awareness that you need to apply where change really happen. When you make music in your basement, design or draw a piece without actually sharing them: you are in airplane mode and not aware. Are you afraid, you have all the rights to be. It’s not a big deal, the door to improvement got the words “You suck!” written on it.

Is your failing mode on?
Go fail and fail hard. There are multiple ways of failing, your work can be rejected, your blog article can go down the drain -tell me about it Lionel! :)- you can get a gig get hired, do the job very well, your client then will ask you some free design work, you say no and that’s it! You’ll get your money -or not totally- and will never see the client again. That’s a type of failure. Like I told you, it’s never about the money but strong relationships. Will you have the courage to change your blueprint when facing failure?

Will you force your destiny?
I read that amazing story about Ridley Scott, the filmmaker. He met his success at 40 years old and, before that, it was a rollercoaster of little success and big failure. He stalked some ad agency executives in the elevator with only his portfolio in his hand, and pitched them all the way up. That’s how he got the job, the rest is history.

For decades the formula to success has been hard work. I guess it’s still the case. As far as i’m concerned, getting the right habits is the most difficult part of it. Please let me us know, in the comment section below, the challenges you face on your path to success and your insights. We could learn something from you that will help us find our groove again!

Apple: First Never Follows?

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Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, is awesome. He just bought his friends 10 tickets to go watch “Finding Dory”, the upcoming Disney blockbuster, via Apple Pay. Dismissing a Facebook friend request from Taylor Swift in the process. He did all that on stage today!

As a public speaker or a marketing person, you just can’t avoid the influence of Apple’s keynotes. Steve Jobs used them to inject an incredible soul power into his tech products, making them sexy again. He had his own style and it worked for decades. Craig’s voice is different, he’s the kind of guy to do all the things mentioned above while having a very fun conversation with your grandma when she’s watching her favorite TV show.

Although nobody can deny Craig’s terrific storytelling skills and awesomeness. There were a few things I liked +1/ disliked -1 at this year #WWDC, let’s talk about them:

Gender Equality and Diversity : +1
Silicon Valley is terrible at assessing those issues. Apple is showing the right example although it’s going to be a long road ahead and I hope many companies will take that path. My favorite moment was when Bozoma Saint John tried to rock a baffled audience “ ♫to the hip hip hop, a you don’t stop the rock it to the bang bang boogie ♫” and she danced on it 🙂 ! I really enjoyed it. Women in the tech industry are the norm. Get used to it!

Snapchat & WhatsApp vibe: +1
Invisible text, emoji’s, colorful costumed messages, end-to-end encryption. These features don’t remind you of other messaging apps you are already using? It’s good to see Apple get inspired by the competition and even open iMessage to Android users.

More power to your workflow : +1
Sketching on the iPad and being able to copy and paste it on a fly into a presentation, a document or even Photoshop –Adobe can you hear my prayers? – for sharing or tweaking it further on your laptop, that would make your workflow more flexible and efficient.

Apple Pay:  -1
Linking your credit card to your phone to use it as a payment option is uncommon. Apple didn’t crack the code to engage more users to adopt it, neither its competitors. That’s a tough challenge. To sum it all, if you’re outside the US you’ll have hard time using it because of very few terminals and countries, banks resistance and fierce competition.

iTunes / Apple Music Redesign :-1
Meh, it had to be more about iTunes redesign because it’s still a confusing and complex app, even after the recent updates. I still don’t understand why the multiple tabs feature is inexistent. They should put more Safari twist into iTunes. Speaking of Apple Music the trend is pointing to music streaming, paying to download music that’s not yours..what’s the point?

No hardware upgrades: -1
This hurts. When I think about the bad coating issues that have the Macbook pro line -plus other problems- and the far cry for overall performance enhancements, I’m wondering sometimes if Apple didn’t got lazy.

So there you have it, this event reminded us how  companies should: embrace diversity and gender equality, get inspired by their competition, explore new ways to innovate and improve their products. On the other a lot of organizations struggle with: how to engage more effectively their customers base, being aware about true user experience and design, knowing when it’s about to replace or shut down a product line.

 

 

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong On LinkedIN

There was a time, not so long ago, before the invention of the internet or  e-mail, when we used to write letters. We used to sit down and write with passion and strong empathy, because we knew that it would take weeks before our correspondents get that mail. When it will arrive? Will they get it? How will they feel when they’ll read it?  The anxiety was real. These are the common things most people do and that will undermine your success on LinkedIN.


Sending too much (not personal) invitations.

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Ever asked your contact to introduce you to another contact and as an answer you got: “I absolutely have no idea who that is!” Social media is not about the numbers it’s about great conversations. I used to think that the more connections I could get, the better. I was totally wrong. People have absolutely no reason to accept your invitation just for the sake of accepting it, the only question they are asking is: will you solve my problem?

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Don’t connect yet!

There are easy steps you can take to maximize your chances of interaction on LinkedIN:
1-Go read their profile: don’t scan it. Read from top to bottom where their interests are.
2-Always send a personal invitation: introduce yourself, the reason you are contacting them, use “you” instead of “I”, add humor in your message, make it short. The next time you see a profile and that blue button “connect” which is screaming for a click, don’t. You have the choice in the app and website to custom your invitation, use it.
3-Say thank you! A person stopped his activity to accept your request, it’s an opportunity to engage. Be thankful!

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Custom it

Wrong answer to endorsements.
Endorsement are powerful on LinkedIN as they validate your expertise, and they are free! But why this is what I get 90% of the time I endorse someone: “Thanks for endorsing me for _________”. That’s it. End of conversation.  Can you do better?


Saying congratulations or well wishes to strangers.
My agency celebrated its 10th anniversary a month ago. That day was fun, I was overwhelmed by the number of messages I received. Thank you! Unfortunately, they were almost all the same: “Congrats on the anniversary, I hope you are doing well.” and I’d go like “Well that’s very nice of you, I’m well thanks! How’s your day/activity going?” Aaannnnd…no answer. Please don’t spam the “Congrats” button if you are not keen to engage with someone. It’s like showing up at birthday party -without a gift 🙂 – and leave in the minute. LinkedIN placed that button for you to use it very carefully.


One more thing: remove some connections.
You can’t please everyone, thank God! Learn to ditch -politely-  your LinkedIN connections. Let them know that you’re still open to conversation by leaving your email for example. Don’t chase people: send one message, wait and set a follow up reminder. If
at the second message they still don’t respond, send them an email apologizing and reminding them that you tried to contact them. After that, don’t be a pest let them go and move on. LinkedIN is about motion.

Of course this is a short list, I can’t wait to learn from you. How do you deal with your social interactions and engagement?  Let me know in the comment section below.
Have a blessed day my friend!

Samsung Galaxy S7 VS iPhone 6S: Buy Both? Non Sense

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photo credit: TechRadar

Ian Morris from Forbes wrote an interesting article about the Samsung and iPhone rivalry;
Article in which my comment goes like this:

“I’m sorry to disagree: we can’t tell users to buy both. Especially when the Galaxy S7 got a jaw dropping display, a better processor making it incredibly fast, way better battery, better camera and storage… In my opinion, we all have to wait what Apple got in its sleeves for the iPhone 7 at the next event. For now, Samsung is ahead. I love Apple, no mistake, but they need to catch up.”

I should have added: “You can even get a dual-sim version of the Galaxy S7 on the internet, and the Galaxy Note 6 will be released this summer and promise to be beyond extraodinary”, so why bother buying both?

When we love a product and got disappointed by its -very- little features implementation over the last 3-4 years, we want improvements, right? The #WWDC2016 has to be good, it has to bring SIGNIFICANT product updates -I mean all the products- otherwise it’s gonna be another difficult year for Apple already dealing with a fierce competition:

-Razer Stealth + Razer Core combination is perfect for gamers but also professionals.
-The latest Asus Transformer 3 Pro tablet boasting the 7th generation Intel chip and better specs than the iPad Pro.
-You can build an incredible -and up-gradable- Windows  workstation that will outshine the Mac Pro and will not cost you an arm and leg.
-Google is about to merge Chrome and Android.

People may say that a company’s treasury is a measure of its success. I’d say that money and success can also make you lazy.

What do you think? Let me know in the comment section below!

 

Du Design Là Où C’est Nécessaire

Je m’appelle Lionel Thomas, je suis le  fondateur et directeur créatif chez KILIFORI une agence de communication localisée au Cameroun. Le constat qui a motivé cette création d’entreprise est simple : le Design est encore très mal maîtrisé / perçu dans certains pays Africain, et ça se voit dans tous les domaines. Pourtant, c’est aussi un élément essentiel pour la réussite des entreprises africaines de demain. Afin qu’elles soient aussi une source d’inspiration et d’innovation pour des milliards de gens. Cette courte entrevue a été menée par le Dr Harnet Bokrezion pour le blog AfricaJumpStart.

Lionel, pouvez vous nous raconter votre retour au Cameroun?

J’ai quitté la France et suis arrivé au Cameroun en Juin 2012. Ce fut en fait ma deuxième tentative de retour au pays. La première était en 2009, mais je pense que je n‘étais pas encore prêt à quitter le confort Européen. Mais quelque chose m’a toujours rattaché au Cameroun. Je suis ici depuis près de 4 ans maintenant.

Pourquoi avezvous décidé de quitter l’ Europe et démarrer une entreprise en Afrique?

Je tiens à dire que j’aime la concurrence, mais il y’en a très peu dans mon domaine au Cameroun, j’y ai vu une opportunité incroyable et j’ai voulu l’exploiter. Mon entreprise fait dans la conception graphique des éléments marketing d’entreprises, ceci est quelque chose qui est assez nouveau pour le continent dans son ensemble. Vous n’êtes pas obligé de convaincre un occidental sur les avantages que le design et branding apporteront à son entreprise. Mais en Afrique, la donne est différente. Comment amener une société qui lutte avec des problèmes d’accès Internet, des coupures d’électricité, et les soucis de management et gestion à se concentrer sur la conception et l’image de marque ? Voilà le challenge : apporter l’expertise de l’image dans les entreprises qui en ont le plus besoin.

Comment s’est déroulé le processus de création de votre entreprise au Cameroun une fois arrivé là-bas?

L’enregistrement prend un certain temps – environ un mois et demi. Le gouvernement n’aide pas vraiment les startups et il est difficile de trouver des investissements auprès des banques qui ne comprennent pas cette activité. Les grandes agence de pub bénéficient de toute l’attention des clients et investisseurs. La plupart des jeunes entrepreneurs dans ce secteur que je connais ont démarrés sur leur fonds propre.

Quelles sont vos conseils pour ceux qui veulent démarrer une entreprise au Cameroun ou d’ autres pays africains?

Il est bon de faire ses armes et de se constituer un réseau sur place et à l’extérieur, plonger dans le domaine et en voir les bonnes et mauvaises pratiques, se faire guider par des mentors et beaucoup écouter –même les plus pessimistes- c’est ce qui vous tiendra en haleine sur le long terme. Les possibilités sont vastes, mais tout dans ce pays prend énormément de temps. Les gens ne sont pas prêts pour ce que vous avez à offrir, il est donc nécessaire d’accompagner la vente par beaucoup de pédagogie. La véritable clé du succès est la persévérance et l’ouverture. Je serais heureux d’être en contact avec la diaspora ou les propriétaires d’entreprises étrangères qui voudraient s’installer ici – ils peuvent me contacter.

Comment entreprendre une agence de marketing au Cameroun ?

Laissons un peu le marketing de coté. Focalisons-nous sur l’Afrique : sa chaleur, sa générosité, ses paysages, ses habitants, et son art. L’art Africain est si dynamique! Mais la réalité est qu’une grande partie de ce talent est gâché par un manque de reconnaissance et de visibilité.

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Je me souviendrai toujours du jour où je me suis rendu chez mon oncle. Nous étions assis au salon, regardant une publicité locale à la télévision – c’était une pub de cosmétique, les visuels était si laids et mal exécutés qu’ils semblaient être sortis tout droit des années 70 – puis mon oncle lança « J’admire vraiment les Africains qui inventent des choses. Je veux dire … des choses réelles et palpables. » Il rajouta « Il y a beaucoup de créativité impliquée dans ce genre de conception. Je ne sais pas à propos de ton travail, fils, mais il y a une chose dont je suis sûr : ce n’est pas la même chose. Vous faites tous ces visuels pour les entreprises, mais le marketing n’est pas de la créativité… et il y a tant de gens qui font la même chose que toi, je leur parle tous les jours ! ”

Ses paroles me laissèrent pantois, ce n’était pas la première fois -et certainement pas la dernière- que j’entendais quelque chose de semblable depuis mon arrivée. Mais c’était toujours aussi douloureux. Heureusement, je peux l’expliquer.

Retour en arrière : qu’est-ce qu’on nous a toujours dis à propos de l’Afrique ? C’est un continent riche et beau. Une grande destination touristique ! La plupart des gens vous raconterons de belles histoires sur l’Afrique du Sud, le Maroc, le Ghana ou le Kenya. Mais vous n’entendrez pas beaucoup parler d’autres pays africains. Voici un fait: le tourisme est un facteur majeur de développement. Il peut changer les mentalités, conduire des affaires, booster les marchés et rendre -ceux qui l’ont compris-, plus compétitifs et donc améliorer la manufacture de leurs produits. Ces pays sont les plus chanceux, mais qu’en est- il des autres ?

Lentement mais sûrement, les entrepreneurs se sont laissés entraîner par la folie des bénéfices. Tout est bon pour faire de l’argent, même des produits médiocres. La créativité ? L’innovation ? La compétitivité ? Le service à la clientèle ? Pourquoi ? Perte d’argent. L’agriculture et l’immobilier sont une valeur sûre, c’est ce que le peuple veut. Dans les bureaux tout le monde veut entrer dans Le business de l’import export des produits alimentaires de base.
Je ne pense pas que ce soit particulièrement un trait africain, cette tendance est partout, mais le sentiment est encore plus profond là où la pauvreté, le manque d’éducation, les maladies, les problèmes d’énergie et technologiques règnent.

Qu’est ce qui fait que des entreprises comme Apple assurent un flot insolent et continu de revenus, et se retrouvent à courtiser l’Inde et la Chine par la même occasion ? Il est facile d’oublier que les bonnes premières impressions cimentent le chemin vers une excellente communication.

Ma stratégie pour l’Afrique: Enseigner et non pas vendre!

Je commence ma longue journée au Cameroun en me disant une chose : je suis là pour le long terme. Voici la question que je me pose: quel est le plus grand atout que devrait posséder une entreprise pour :

  • Gagner de la visibilité

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    le continent africain doit-il être partout?

  • Assurer sa crédibilité
  • Raconter une histoire originale
  • Définir une vision claire et pérenne
  • Se différencier de la concurrence
  • Commander d’excellents résultats marketing
  • Faire un impact à long terme

La réponse : sa marque.

Voici les mauvaises pratiques des entreprises. Elles demandent à des étudiants ou stagiaires de le faire, pour rien. Pourquoi ? Parce que le branding n’est pas aussi important que le business plan ou la stratégie financière dans leur agenda. J’ai parlé plus haut de l’appel fort de l’argent. Voilà pourquoi les identités d’entreprises Africaine se retrouvent piégés dans les clichés. Les clichés sont des symboles que nous associons facilement à des choses, des gens, des cultures ou des pays. En Afrique, huit ou neuf entreprises sur dix auront un continent africain comme logo. Pire, elle utiliseront un drapeau du pays d’appartenance; ou pire encore, la planète terre.

Comment pouvez sensiblement améliorer votre crédibilité devant des investisseurs ou banquiers quand votre concurrence s’est déjà présenté à eux avec le même genre d’identité que vous? Une entreprise peut marquer son originalité différemment.
CAS D’ÉTUDE : AGS

1 / Le Brief

Je vais vous présenter les coulisses de la conception du logo d’une entreprise : Africa Global Strategy (AGS). AGS est un fabricant de résine et fournisseur dans l’industrie du bâtiment. Leurs bureaux sont au Cameroun et ils sont vraiment bons dans ce qu’ils font. Dans certaines régions d’Afrique, le taux d’humidité est si fort que les murs de nos maison et buildings craquent et dévoilent des pans de peinture séchée, croûtes que vous pouvez enlever avec votre pouce. AGS a une solution pour cela: sa solution de résine peut garder les fondations des bâtiments parés à toute forme d’humidité.
Problème: AGS n’a pas de logo.

2 / Idées et Brainstorming

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La résine est basée sur de la chimie, les molécules, un équilibre, de la symétrie, un mélange harmonieux de petits éléments qui donnent une structure solide. Je viens là d’exposer les mots clés du brief client. J’écris tout ce qui traverse mon esprit sur une feuille. Cette pratique appelée « Mind Mapping », m’aide à faire une recherche plus ciblée sur les questions réelles soulevées par le client.

3 / La plume est plus puissante …

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L’inspiration ne se commande pas. Il peut se passer des jours sans qu’aucune idée ne vienne. Je commence toujours mes projets sur papier, ce qui me donne une plus grande liberté. Je peux effacer, avoir un feeling de ce qui est bon ou mauvais, prendre des décisions plus rapides, rater et recommencer, rater encore et encore et trouver une solution dans le chaos. Ce format me permet d’explorer plusieurs idées plus rapidement. Les croquis injectent une touche humaine à un concept.

4 / Le Logiciel

Une fois la phase d’esquisse terminée –une à deux semaines de feedback client-, je peux ouvrir -enfin- mon logiciel préféré. Importer mon esquisse et commencer à m’éclater. J’utilise Adobe Illustrator. Je suis plus à l’aise avec cet outil mais Corel Draw peut aussi faire le travail. La clé est de maîtriser l’outil, et de rester dans le monde du vecteur. Encore une fois, ce ne sont que des outils. Le logiciel ne garantira jamais pas un logo réussi.

  “Les molécules reposent sur des  fondations solides”
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«Des fondations naissent des formes
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“Vient ensuite le choix de la typographie ”
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«Jusqu’à ce que le  tout soit entièrement assemblé.”
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5 / Le rendu et présentation

Faire un logo est une chose. Laisser les clients livrés à eux même est une grosse erreur. Ce sont les mauvaises pratiques du métier, sur un continent où justement beaucoup plus de marques de qualité doivent voir le jour. Je prends donc soin de fournir une présentation à mes clients qui raconte l’histoire de leur identité, leur histoire et les multiples directions qu’ils peuvent prendre pour donner une meilleure dimension à leurs produits ou services.

Les meilleurs logos sont ceux qui laissent une trace et place à l’imagination. Les clients peuvent les utiliser de multiples façons : animation, design de t-shirt, matériaux imprimés. Sur chaque support “quelque chose” se passe avec votre public. C’est émotionnel et volatile. Attention cependant à ne pas confondre logo et branding qui sont deux choses différentes. L’un est juste la partie cachée de l’iceberg mais il déclenche les émotions, tandis que l’autre les capte et les garde.

“Un bon logo devrait résister à l’épreuve du temps … et des couleurs”
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“Donnez au client une vision”
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Pensées finales

Je pense que le design est à l’intersection de l’art et de la technologie, et les deux sont des formes de communication. En tant qu’êtres humains, les moyens d’expressions sont innés chez nous, et nous sommes sans cesse en quête de changement : pour rendre nos vies meilleures.

Les artistes sentent ce sentiment d’urgence. À travers leurs façons différentes et uniques de voir le monde, ils résolvent des problèmes au quotidien. Nous nous disons, à tort que la créativité est inutile dans un pays qui n’est pas encore industrialisé, et que seulement des produits alimentaires et du béton font des bénéfices. Ceci est nier le droit de chaque entreprise en Afrique à être vouée au succès sans avoir à dévoiler son futur produit ou service..

Mon oncle est soixantenaire, il est de la vieille école. Mais ce n’est pas une raison. Il pourrait être votre prochain gros client. Comment allez – vous lui faire acheter vos produits ou “services invisibles” ? Si c’est une histoire de prix, alors vous devenez une commodité ; il achètera chez vous une fois, mais ne vous attendez pas à le revoir. Votre logo donne à votre audience plus que vous pensez: il définit qui vous êtes, pourquoi vous avez démarré votre entreprise, votre vision. Il vous rappelle, dans ces moments durs, la raison pour laquelle vous vous battez. Toutes ces choses qui vous rendent finalement authentique.

Il ne faut pas sous estimer les clients africains, ils sont très sensibles aux bonnes marques et les méritent. Ils vous diraient : « Nous voulons appartenir à une marque et en être fiers. Nous voulons dire aux gens autour de nous que « vous » êtes le meilleur. L’expérience est primordiale, notre attention est de plus en plus volatile dans un monde hyper connecté. Alors, comment allez vous nous faire aimer votre marque africaine? »


Merci

Je tiens à remercier Harnet Bokrezion pour sa belle vision de l’Afrique, et de me donner l’occasion de parler sur ce blog. Je pense que le changement viendra un pixel à la fois -dans mon domaine-. Et nous sommes très chanceux d’être là pour le voir.

Je ne suis pas un graphiste ou infographiste, mon métier c’est d’aider les entreprises comme la votre à mieux promouvoir leurs services ou produits, à travers un marketing visuel stratégique, afin qu’elles agrandissent leur business. Un métier difficile dans un environnement qui n’est pas prêt, mais il faut continuer à essayer et ne pas abandonner ! Parce que, comme ils disent : si ce n’est pas nous qui le faisons, qui le fera à notre place ?

Lionel Thomas- Fondateur & Designer chez KILIFORI