“We noticed a gap in terms of how certain businesses are perceived and we wanted to ensure that there’s no reason why a Western brand should be better received than our own.”
Raymond Edusei & Scott Ohene-Nyako – Founders, Adinqra Digital
Adinqra Digital (Adinqra) is a design and branding agency based in London, founded by British Ghanaians Raymond Edusei and Scott Ohene-Nyako. ‘Adinqra’ is a play on the word ‘Adinkra’ the name given to the rich and proverbial visual symbols that represent a number of aspirational values, concepts and sayings, originating from the Ashanti tribe of Ghana. It’s this fusion of culture and design that sets this agency apart as they continue their mission to tell the stories of African focused businesses and change the perception of African brands.
Starting back home
Both Scott and Ray are born and bred in the UK, Scott in Kent and Ray in Manchester. However, the partners met back home in Ghana whilst working for the award-winning advertising agency Scanad, where the idea of Adinqra first began. “I grew up in Prestwich, Manchester and I was literally the only black boy in my school. In fact, I was the first black boy in the history of my primary school!” reflects Ray “so deciding to move to Ghana for university was a totally different experience.” Scott’s time in Ghana, however, began during his placement year at Leeds University, “Unlike the rest of my peers who were heading to London and other popular European cities, I decided to go back to Ghana. At Scanad my role consisted of mainly copywriting: working on adverts and tv commercial scripts. It was fantastic, although Ghana time is no joke!”
With Ray in strategy and Scott in creative, it was only a matter of time till the ‘UK boys’ met and of course, the two clicked instantly.
Closing the gap
Inspired by their work creating compelling content and strategies for some of the most recognised global brands at Scanad, Scott and Ray decided to venture out on their own and cater to the brands of their choice. “We were working for some impressive names like Vodafone, Google, Coca-Cola etc. However, when we both came back to the UK we decided that we wanted to create an agency that focused on creating exciting brands for businesses that had a similar connection or love for Africa. We wanted to be part of the culture that is changing the African narrative.” With passion and experience both in London and Ghana, Adinqra is in a position to serve this niche market on both an international and local scale. “Helped by our experience and time in Ghana we have an understanding and knowledge of the landscape. There is a lot of opportunity in Africa as a whole with so many companies and individuals creating innovative products and services that deserve to be showcased on the international stage and it’s these exciting innovations, ideas and concepts we want to be part of. We believe we have the ability to help such visionaries articulate, present and tell their stories through what we do.”
Afrotech Fest wayfinding & interior artwork by Adinqra
Scott adds “We noticed a gap in terms of how certain businesses are perceived. We wanted to ensure that there’s no reason why a Western brand should be better received than our own. So we use the power of design and branding to create real brands for real businesses that resonate with people.”
What role does Adinqra play in the development of African brands and businesses? “We are communicators,” answers Ray “and that’s not just verbal or visual but it’s about evoking feeling and there are a number of strategies we use to do that. ”Adinqra’s expertise span from brand strategy and design to web, data visualisation, art and photography “At the core, we are a design and branding agency with a passion for expressing and promoting creativity through these tools to help businesses tell their story.”
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen Menus by Adinqra
At the foundation of all Adinqra accounts are conversations, “We go out of our way to understand our clients: why they started their businesses, what their passions are, what they believe their clients are thinking about, the list goes on. It’s through these conversations that we develop ideas and concepts that all relate to those core values, just like how colours and even fonts have certain attributes associated with them. Once you’re able to picture and articulate the client’s vision with clarity, that’s when we can begin to play and create the visual aspects that stem from the big idea.”
Scott admits that its these conversations with clients that are his favourite part of the process “Everyone has a story to tell and it’s interesting to unpick that. It’s quite funny when you have the team around the table and the CEO says their company is like a Mercedes Benz but the PA reveals it’s more like a Skoda – it’s interesting to see how people perceive their own brands. Part of our challenge is making sure everyone’s on the same page and that it filters through into the design.”
Rebrand for Africa Matters Limited (AML) by Adinqra
African brands making a mark
It’s crazy to think that some of Africa’s largest brands like Guinness or Supermalt that are so embedded within African cultures are not actually African owned. I asked Scott and Ray how they thought African owned brands could begin to make their mark on a global scale.
Company brochure for Elmina Advisory a Ghana focussed government affairs consultancy by Adinqra
Ray drew on the importance of legacy when it comes to building long-lasting brands: “If you look to say America around one-third of the top 500 businesses are family owned (brands like Walmart, the Mars family or Newscorp). Research suggests that family-owned brands inspire trust amongst consumers and investors. We need to adopt the same culture in Africa – the idea that whatever we create gets passed on to our children or to the next generation. It’s okay for foreign companies to take an interest and if they can help us grow that’s great. But we need to take ownership.”
Brand development & strategy for the UK Ghana Chamber of Commerce by Adinqra
To Scott, an understanding of the importance of creating familiar meaning behind a brand. “We always reference the popular Simon Sinek talk on the importance of why which suggests people don’t buy what we do they but why we do it. There’s a great talk by Talaya Waller who touches on the idea that with the digital age well and truly in full swing, consumers are now more interested in brands that make an effort to engage them, brands that create experiences and brands that reflect a little bit of them. We’re seeing this now more than ever, whether it’s through the immersive experience you get when you walk into Apple or the recent Google campaigns featuring trending influencers like John Boyega or the epic nothing beats a Londoner ad for Nike. With the help of tech and so much of today’s content being viewed via our mobiles, once we begin utilising such methods for our businesses and brands it won’t be long till our mobile money apps, artisans and luxury clothing brands are trending as highly as our music is. But before we get there, we need to make sure we spend time to craft authentic stories around our brands that people will connect with.”
To the future
Through Adinqra, Scott and Ray have turned their creative passions into a business. On what advice they’d give to budding creatives who desire to do the same they say “Just go for it – don’t wait! There are a lot of creatives out there so it’s just about finding the right platform for you.”
“I’d also urge people to make sure they get experience in their industry first before they take the leap.” Scott adds, “You can be self-taught but there’s nothing like getting experience so you can learn from experts around you. If and where possible, make an effort to surround yourself with people that will help you grow and harness your skills.”
In the long term, it is the goal of Adinqra to “be the go-to agency for African focused businesses. But also for any other business that understands the value of design.” Although rooted in a love and passion for the African continent Adinqra’s portfolio crosses borders and a number of sectors.
The pair also sees themselves taking Adinqra to Africa and working on the ground “It’s part of the reason we continue to work with businesses that have bases here and in Africa, to build those connections so that even whilst we’re in the UK right now, we have a presence back home. In the short term, however, Adinqra is focused on building their team of creatives with individuals who share the same passion”.
Africa’s ‘rebrand’ is well underway. I’m looking forward to the emergence of African brands supported by African agencies like Adinqra Digital!
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Linkedin: Adinqra Digital