LinkedIN Is NOT About You!

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Attractive and inspiring content is what’s missing on LinkedIN, here is why: people who brag about how great they are, do not realise how annoying it actually is!

I quote this comment from a member of a music conversation group I joined:

“Self-promotion seems to be the modus operandi of a majority of desperate acts on LinkedIN, but most seem to have no idea what they’re doing. 95% of everyone’s feed is self-glorifying, poorly written, close ended statements about someone’s new ‘project’. This sort of posting invites no feedback, and sickens me in that, here is an act – insisting that they are the greatest thing since God – yet they can’t even summon up the creative energy generated by a sack of potatoes to convince me that they’re worth listening to.

If it isn’t that, it seems to be someone wedging in some completely irrelevant – and unwarranted – cheeky political comment.

I’m not necessarily picking on the members of this group, but it’s the growing trend that I see which generally makes me remain silent, or simply leave LinkedIn groups.”

Now is the time to make our LinkedIN feed relevant again and teaching each other something new, everyday.

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.

 

 

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

Can We Say That Adobe iPad Apps are a Mess?

Yes, they really are..but who’s to blame?

I think Apple is the only one responsible, because the iPad is clearly not designed to run full desktop creative software. And it won’t happen any soon — Tim Cook made it clear. This is why I feel that the iPad Pro is a fancy but dull product. Creatives out there try to explore new ways to improve their workflow and end up collecting tools they really don’t need, and that’s the sad part. Why an iPad Pro when you got a Surface? Why a Surface book when you got a Macbook Pro? Why selling your Wacom Cintiq for an iPad Pro? The choices we take for the sake of mobility sometimes don’t make sense. The best advice: make art with what you have right now, because you’ll never get the perfect tool anyway.

Creatives, Do You Really Need The iPad Pro?

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Will we find peace in this tech world?! Be satisfied of what we have? Here’s the new kid on the block… and it will put the other stylus and tablet manufacturers in big trouble. I’m talking about the people from Adonit, Wacom and Microsoft -sending its execs to present Office products thinking ‘Dammit! How are we going to save the Surface Pro from this monster?’.
As Tim Cook introduced the new iPad Pro, I started thinking ‘God, I hope a different OS will run it this time’ … and… nope! Then Adobe joined the dance to present a pale version of Photoshop, and I definitely knew I wouldn’t get a full creative software experience on an iPad anytime soon. Was it a big disapointment? I’m not sure. I was very happy to see Apple put a long-forgotten art back in the spotlights. The return of drawing!

These are my tools of the trade: when I go mobile I use the Adonit Jot Touch -with a disk nib, coupled with the iPar Air 2. For sedentary use, a Bamboo Pen and Touch backed up by an Intuos XL, they are plugged to my Macbook Pro.

Let’s show off some iPad Pro’s specs that might interest to the creatives out there:

Thick and thin, thinner than the Surface Pro and the Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. It’s even lighter, so you can put it easily in a bag without the fear of breaking your back at the end of the day. No Macbook Pros at clients meeting, it’s always fun! How about

A better chip, will run every app faster and makes the drawing experience more fluid. 3D apps like Autocad will render more pixels without blinking.

The screen resolution is amazing, denser than a 15’ Macbook Pro. Huge as well, that means more screen estate. Photographers and digital artists will love it when they’ll showcase their portfolio to clients via Foliobook for example.

The stylus, which Steve Jobs shot down a few years ago: ‘God gave us 5 styluses on each hands’ he said. Back then I thought that the old man was crazy or high on something. Kyle Lambert has done marvels on the iPad using Procreate app and his fingers. It takes time and perseverance to master both, here’s a case study of one of my drawing that I’ll update on my blog soon

When I was on the market for ‘the best stylus for the iPad Air 2’, the Google search returned confusing results. Wacom’s product, the Creative Stylus, wasn’t good: few bugs and liabilities while drawing. Same for the Adonit’s Jot Touch with Pixelpoint; What Apple took care of is that you should not rely on a manufacturer’s SDK update to start drawing, just do it right away.

-Battery life, 10 hours battery is awesome if you make sure to turn the Auto-Lock feature on and don’t crank the brightness up. Plus, everyone got a powerbank nowadays so battery issues are no big deal.

Multiscreen capability, allowing you to draw while keeping an eye on another image. Less back and forths using the home button will enhance your productivity tremendously.

4 speakers, sound is very important,every creative will tell you this: ‘NO creation without music running in the background.’ One sure thing, Apple will find a way to sell you a music subscription, but it’s great value for tablet music producers using Garageband and Beatmaker 2. Musicians will also plug their piano or guitar into it and start jamming as well.

-Shooting 4k, this will make sense for filmmakers. The Padcaster Air kit for iPad will make you believe you’re the next Ridley Scott.
The apps. Digital creation apps are Adobe’s territory, on the iPad you’ll get Adobe Sketch, Line, Brush, Draw, Shape, Color, Ideas, Hue, Lightroom, Clip, Comp, Slate, Fill & Sign, eSign Manager DC with a creative cloud membership. For brainstorming sessions, you can use Notes Plus or Notability. Storyboard artists will rely on Forge or Autodesk Ink. Astropad will mirror your laptop’s screen and allow you to use the ipad as a full capacity Wacom tablet. In the meantime, you can also use DuetDisplay if you want to use it as a second screen. There’s an app for everything!

The accessories, creatives are public speakers. Keynote and Powepoint are terrific tools on a tablet, but nothing wows more an audience than a pocket projector. You should think about it for your next presentation. Will the resolution on a big blank screen will stay the same? The keyboard is also a good Idea, do you wonder what are the best apps for writing on an iPad? Pages, Word, iA Writer. Hanx Writer, Byword, Ulysses. Pick your poison.

The cloud, iCloud storage is now cheaper! Finally! 9$ for 1TB, awesome!. It’s an invitation to productivity. ‘Folks, from now on you’ll stop letting Google Drive or Dropbox stocking your creations. We got you!’ Apple said.

Adobe and Microsoft’s honeymoon is a flop, last year they showed us, at the Adobe’s MAX, what they were capable of on Microsoft Surface Pro, we’re still waiting for the next MAX event in October. Apps are a very sensitive topic for the Redmond giant. Apple will take advantage of it -if they didn’t already.

Now, what would NOT be of an interest for creatives?

-It’s too big, yes I know…I know…it’s a question of taste here.

-The stylus is exclusive to the iPad Pro, -woops, sorry guys, just in case! Apple is out there to sell iPad Pros, not being a stylus manufacturer.

-You are going to lose this stylus. Yes, the crazy old man was right. I lost my Bamboo Pen & Touch’s  and It was terrible, I ended up with a useless tablet.

-You are going to lose ‘an expensive stylus’. 99$… you better be careful here. Is it the reason why they made it so long? I didn’t see any stylus slot on the keyboard either…

-No OS X for iPad, to use Photoshop CC 2015, Mischief, Sketchable, ArtRage, ZBrush 4R7, Cinema 4d, Premiere Pro, Maya, 3DS Max and Mudbox etc. you’ll still have to use your laptop or desktop. Such a shame when you boast a A9X chip that’s faster than 80 percent of the PCs shipped in the last 12 months, and 90 percent more powerful, graphically.

-No USB port, God! When these guys will finally get it right? We have to share files with people and clients, not leaving them hanging when they handle us a USB key. Too bad that it remains a closed system.

-No Force Touch, I dont’ mind if there’s no 3D touch on the screen but at least put it on the keyboard, because writting and moving the screen’s cursor back with a finger is daunting.

In conclusion. Do you realize that creativity just took the center stage of a big tech event? Building a tablet that’d canibalize the whole Macbook line wasn’t part of Apple’s intentions. They wanted to show that they can shake every industry off with a single bullet. This is what they do best. Think of the iPad Pro as a a huge sketchbook you can throw ideas at. Is it time to get rid of Wacom’s tablets? No. They did a great job so far. But I really hope Wacom will innovate on its product line -design and pricing- if they want to avoid some serious competition. I you’re a happy owner of an iPad Air 2, like me, you should keep it and wait until next year to replace it. iPad owners? Go upgrade it. I’m curious about what the next Surface Pro 4 will have in store. As far as we’re concerned, now we’ll have less excuses not being creative.

Will you pre-order the iPad pro? Tell us how it will enhance your creativity and productivity in the comment section below

When Logo Design Comes Together, It Just Makes Sense

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Long gone are the days when Paul Rand showed up at your office with just one logo proposition, and a shiny catalogue -with your brand’s storytelling in it-. If you felt the need for some modifications, he would tap your fingers saying ‘This is my job and this is THE solution for you. I know what I’m doing, I’m the expert here.’

This article’s photo is a logo design I’ve made for a client in the construction field. But the red dot, all the titles and the pic surrounding it wasn’t my design. I don’t want to generalize but most businesses are fighting against simplicity. The more they add the better. Sometimes, as much as you love your clients, you can’t keep them from making modifications. I will talk to you about it but also design’s best practices, cheap solutions/work and the role of designers.

Logo design is complicated, all access to the technology made it so.  As a consequence, it often goes wrong or misunderstood. When that happens -mostly based out of cheap work-, most businesses think that there’s nothing to add or change about their logo: ‘Oh we’re good! It’s perfect! Don’t even touch it’. A ‘sane’ designer will never step into your business and start saying: ‘Ok, let’s talk about this logo first…who did it? Seriously? It’s not good. Shall we change it, before doing anything else?’ I bet he/she would never have your business right?

Let me introduce you to the objections that pop into your clients’ mind when you send them ‘change’ alerts:
-Some designers like to throw their peers under many buses, the only reason they need to do this is to find -to their dismay- that somebody gave a concert -and actually got paid- before them. Ego situation.

-We already registered the logo ‘we went through the cumbersome trademarks registration process, and we paid huge amount of money for it. Money we spared from the previous cheap logo work, and which was well invested.’

-What has been done before is not garbage, ‘we’ll stick to this identity no matter what you say. Even if you bring proofs that it’s really NOT working’

-Even if there are some changes to be made, we hope they are going to be small and the work will be cheap. Changing a logo is easier than creating it from the ground up right?

After the concert, you -designer- are hired for another job, maybe the webdesign part. Which is cool. Things get complicated when you start looking for elements -not crafted by you- to incorporate them into your design: fonts, colors, proportions, positions and space etc. This is the moment you start asking  ‘Can I get the graphic charter?’…silence in the room, you’ll raise eyebrows and put yourself and your fellow designers in trouble. For a reminder, the graphic charter is a 50 or 60 -sometimes more- pages document which contains every technical parts of your identity. All its rules. For example, black and white visuals. Fashion industry uses a lot of them. For your next ad campaign, will your logo be visible when placed on a black and white photos? Where exactly should you place it? All the answers can be found in the graphic charter.

There’s a war outside still raging: expensive vs cheap logos.
I’m not against cheap solutions. Why investing huge amounts of money and efforts in your identity when you can: do it yourself, watch a tutorial, run google for examples, ask feedback on forums. No need for fancy designers. Again, I totally agree and I know your thoughts:
-Cheap is good, especially when you are just starting your business and you are very busy; you think there are other top priorities investments: equipment, offices, exploitation bills, salaries. Design is a ‘fanciness’ you can’t compromise your business over. Clever Google searches will help you find the next freelancer vying to make the most out of your hard earned money.

-Designers are copying and pasting stuff around and make it looks like it’s total sorcery… come on! This is not as hard as programming a financial app or building a marketing plan or even doing your taxes. It’s just pixels. Cheap service.

-Your audience will easily forgive your amateurish look, because these are your baby steps, everybody starts somewhere. If they are really interested they’ll value what you have to say rather than how your business looks.

-No need for storytelling, because there’s no story yet that matches your logo except the first letter it represents which is the same as your business name’s first one. No designer will come in your office and start opening a PowerPoint presentation which will explain your vision, how it will fly for years/decades to come in your customers mind. The strategy, etc.

-Why bother registering a temporary logo? When you’ll have the budget you’ll do that. First thing first.

-Your website and logo are not linked. This upper left side of your layout is where your logo will stay, you just have to tweak its color a little bit and you’re done. Again the audience will focus on your content, not the design. They’ll skip the logo.

-If you change your identity your audience will get lost and it will have a negative impact on your sales. This is what you’re most afraid of.

I think Design is all about team working. Cheap logos, make the next designer you’ll hire spend more time second guessing the color you’ve used, and then realize that it’s not the same on your business cards – plus I know there are thousands of them left in a box somewhere in your office- , don’t come with a vision, a glimpse of a strategy and a favorable ground for a successful branding. They don’t come along with this graphic charter bible I told you about lately which will solve all your future visual and graphic issues but will also keep you from adding irrelevant elements to your identity. They are doing more damages than good and you’ll feel very limited the day you will want to push all your brand experience further -if there’s any yet-. You’ll start the work all over again, and spend more money in the process.

In conclusion: branding is the bridge between logo design and marketing efficiency. Designers? I see them like conductors: they write the partition that triggers the emotional responses you need from your audience, sit down next to you and nail the brief, work with you to make sure all your modifications are done without drifting you away from your vision, tell you a great story, get in touch with your printer when something goes wrong, talk with the branding experts and marketing team, give you a vision and a competitive edge ahead, make you feel different, are aware of all the possible things you can do with your logo and some that you can’t. What’s designing a logo compared to all this? Just the tip of the iceberg.

Does it make sense? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. Do you consider Design as something fancy or helpful for your business?

How I Started A Graphic Design Business In Cameroon

LionelThis is a guest post I wrote a few months ago, I’m the Owner & Designer at KILIFORI a communication agency in Cameroon. I think it really increases our learning curve and everyone involved can take something positive away from it. What we need in order to build successful Africa Businesses are inspiration, guidance, and instructions! It’s starting with a short interview that was conducted by Dr. Harnet Bokrezion for Africa Business JumpStart followed by my blog post. 

Lionel, thanks for submitting a guest post, please tell us when did you arrive in Cameroon?

I left France and arrived in Cameroon in June 2012. This was actually my second attempt to come back to Cameroon. The first was in 2009, but I think I wasn’t ready yet at the time and it was a challenge to leave my comfortable life in Europe behind. I even had the opportunity to live in the US where I was back in 1999. But something was always calling me back to Cameroon. I have been here almost two years now.

Why did you decide to leave Europe and start a business in Africa?

I like to say that I love competition, but if there is no competition like in Cameroon it is an incredible opportunity and I simply wanted to use that. My business is in the area of ‘graphic design’ this is something that is fairly new to the continent at large. You don’t need to convince a Westerner about the values design will bring to his or her business. But in Africa it is a completely different case. How do you convince an African business that struggles with  internet access, electricity cuts, and management issues to focus on design and branding? That’s the challenge. Yet I wanted to bring design into those areas and businesses, because they need it the most.

How was the process of setting up your business in Cameroon once you arrived there?

In Cameroon registration takes some time – about a month and half. The government does not really assist your business at any stage and neither do the banks. Huge companies are the only ones that get some attention, but not the SMEs. We are all start up owners really, most of the people I know anyway.

What are your lessons or tips for those who want to start a business in Cameroon or other African countries?

It is good to get some contacts and maybe even customers before you register, that will keep you going in the beginning. Opportunities are vast but everything in this country takes time.  People are not ready for what you have to offer so you need to stop selling to them and start teaching instead. The real key to success is perseverance. I’d be glad to be in touch with Diaspora or foreign business owners who would want to settle down here – they can contact me.

 

How I Started A Graphic Design Business in Cameroon

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There are so many good vibes I know about Africa. Its warmth, its generosity, its landscape, its people, and its art. African’s art is so vibrant and beautiful. But the reality is that much of this huge talent and potential often goes down the drain and that saddens me.

I’ll always remember the day when I visited my uncle’s house. We were sitting in the living room, watching some local advertisement on TV – it was a cosmetics ad, the visuals were ugly and badly executed, like they were made in the 70’s – and then my uncle mused. “I really admire Africans who are building things. I mean…real things,” he said. “There’s a great deal of creativity involved in manufacturing. I don’t know about your work, son, but there’s one thing that I’m sure of: It’s not the same. You do all that design stuff for businesses, but marketing is not creativity… and there are so many people who kind of do the same thing. I talk to them every day!”

His words left me aghast, it wasn’t the first time –and certainly may not be the last– that I’ve heard something similar since I landed in Cameroon, two years ago. But why am I still having a hard time to deal with it?

Fortunately, -I guess- I can explain it!  Let’s go back to where we were:  what did they tell you about Africa?  It’s a rich and beautiful continent, right? Great tourist destination! Most people will tell you great stories about South Africa, Morocco, Ghana, or Kenya. But you’ll never hear much about other African countries. Here’s a fact: tourism is a major development factor.  It can change mentalities, drive business, make the market in those countries more competitive and hence they will craft better products as a result. Those are the lucky ones, but what about the other countries? They clearly don’t have this kind of exposure.

Slowly but surely, their business owners became only driven by profits. Bear with me, that’s the most dangerous part: anything is good to make money and even mediocre products can make your business tons of money. “Creativity? Innovation? Competitiveness? Customer care? What for? We want profits, we need to survive! We’ll pump more and more products out there, make some import/export and staple food businesses” They say. “That will be great.”

I am not thinking that this is the “African way of thinking”, this is an issue all over the world, but the feeling runs deeper where poverty, lack of education, diseases, lack of energy and technology are involved.

Will the profits last forever? It’s easy to forget that good first impressions cement the path to good communication. Every step and every contact a company makes is a precious occasion to win new customers. I am just stating the obvious there but, unfortunately, things are not going this way. Because we live in a greedy society.

My business strategy for Africa: Teaching not Selling

So I start the way forward with my business in Cameroon by teaching. I am in it for the long-run, and this is what I ask my potential customers:

What is a company’s greatest asset to:

  • Gain exaaa2posure
  • Bring professional credibility
  • Tell a great story
  • Define a clear vision
  • Differentiate itself from the competition
  • Drive great marketing and management results
  • Make people believe
  • Make a long lasting impact

Take a wild guess?

It’s its logo !

Let me tell you what most businesses do. They ask interns to do it, or they buy cheap services. Why they do it? Because it simply does not as important as the business plan or the financial strategy in their schedule. So many in Africa get trapped into clichés.

Clichés are easy symbols we associate with things, people, cultures or countries. In Africa, eight or nine businesses out of ten will get an African continent as a logo. Make it worse, they use a country flag; and even worse than that, the planet earth.

[note by Africa Business JumpStart admin: Logo with African continent? Ok, we are found guilty of that]

So how can you increase your image and professionalism in front of investors or bankers when your competition already pitched to them with the same kind of identity?


Let me bring you a real case study: AGS

1/ The Brief

I will drive you through the logo design journey of the company Africa Global Strategy (AGS). AGS is a resin maker and supplier for the building industry. Their offices are in Cameroon and they are really great at what they do. In some parts of Africa, the humidity is so strong that the house walls start cracking and the paint forms crusts that can be removed with your thumb. ABS has a solution for that: its original resin solution can keep building foundations sealed to any form of moisture.

Problem: AGS did not have a logo.

2/ Ideas & Brainstorming

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Resin is about chemistry, molecules, a perfect balance, symmetry, a harmonious blend of small elements. These are examples, just keywords.
I write everything that cross my mind on a board. Mind mapping ideas helps me to be more focused and specific about the actual issues raised during the client’s brief.

3/ The Pen is Mightier…

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I always start my projects on a paper, it gives you freedom. You can erase, get a feeling of what is right or wrong, and make quicker decisions.
And it allows you to explore multiple ideas faster. Sketching injects a human touch to a concept.

4/ The Software

Once the sketching phase is finished, we can –finally- open our favorite software. Import our sketch and start having real fun. I use Adobe Illustrator. I find it to be very efficient. Corel Draw, can also do the job. The key is to master the tool, and stay in the vector world. Again, these are just tools. The software does not guarantee a successful logo.

“Molecules have perfect blueprints, shapes, balance and foundations”

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“Building a house is also about chemistry and foundations”

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“Then come the choice of typography.  It can take hours, days to find the perfect one…”

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“Until everything is fully assembled.”

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5/ The Rendering & Presentation

Crafting a logo is one thing. Leaving the clients all alone from this point on is a really a big mistake. I think this is particularly the case in Africa where professional logos and branding are just taking off. So I really take care of delivering a presentation to my clients that tells their identity story, and the multiple directions they can take to give a better dimension to their products or services.
The best logos are those that leave room for some imagination. Clients can use them in multiple ways: animation, t-shirt design, print materials, anything goes.

“Great logos should stand the test of time….and colors”

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“Give the client some vision”

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Final Thoughts

I think that design is at the intersection of art and technology, and both are forms of communication. As human beings we need to express ourselves, point at what is wrong and make a change; make our lives better. Designers and artists feel that sense of urgency. Through the different and unique ways they look at the world, they are problem solvers.
Telling ourselves that creativity is only living in palpable things, -and only concrete products can make money- is denying the right to every company in Africa to be different without having to pitch their products or services at meetings each time.

My uncle is 60, he is old school. But hey, prospects say “No” too!  He could still be your next big customer.

How will you make him buy your products or services?

If it is  all about the price then you will become a commodity; he will buy from you once but don’t expect him to come back again.

What if he needed more?

Your logo gives away more than you think. It defines who you are, why you started your business, your vision all those things that make you different.

African customers are very brand aware, and this is why your company needs a logo. They would say: ‘We want to belong to a brand and be proud of it. We want to tell people around us that you are the best.  “Yeah, yeah that logo with the blue bird flying, that’s them!” We’ll say. We will always bad mouth products or services we don’t know, and run to your competition with the brand. Because we don’t know you, but we know them.’

Are we in the end not all a little like that?

So how will you make us love your African brand?

Thanks

I want to thank Ms Harnet Bokrezion for being such a beautiful soul, having beautiful projects for Africa, and giving me the opportunity to speak on her blog. I think that change will come one pixel at a time. And we are very lucky to witness it. I really love what I do –helping businesses get the most out of themselves through great design-, and I really love this continent. Maybe that’s what keeps me going. It can get really tough at times and you may face many disappointments along the way. Don’t worry, keep trying! Because as they say once you can drive in Africa, you can drive anywhere.

Lionel Thomas- Owner & Designer at KILIFORI