The relevance of design

Clients come to us with problems that require visually creative solutions. Whether they know it or not, they need their brands to speak and they do not know how to bring them to life. They have a vision of functionality and purpose but no idea how the tool to help them perform said tasks needs to look like, and so they come to us to build it for them from scratch, to hear out their dream and visualize how to bring it to life.

Structuring the creative process is paramount. Scope and project parameters are integral aspects of the creative brief. The combination of them all guides our thinking and serve as the map (deadlines, audiences, desired results) to move us into the research and ideation process.

Defining “creative” depends on what you are trying to communicate and to whom. Describe the ultimate goal of the visuals? How can they better communicate to the intended audience? Here, we transition into the exploration phase. To make something better, you have to first make it different. Here are some infinite numbers of ways to make something different:

  1. Aesthetics

Getting your idea right is only half the work: the point of impact is purely dependent on execution. Many projects have great ideas but fail to make an impact because of poor execution and implementation. As a subject, design is very subjective and as such, we use a plethora of components to develop objective concepts:

  • Size: Use of size and scale to really create some visual drama—and tell a whole different story. When changing the size of one element in contrast to another element.
  • Color: Color has a powerful ability to tell a story. As one of the strongest assets in the designer’s toolbox, it can serve as a base to establish the type of mood and energy conveyed by the visual.
    our natural perception of color is dependent on light, color is especially helpful when defining time of day and location
  • Shape: making shapes work to better communicate the message. A more drastic change, such as simplifying the geometry, can completely alter energy.
  • Pattern: Developing and underlying grid that forms the pattern composition through which flow can be altered ever so slightly.
  • Texture: portraying texture on images in order to suggest to the eye based on memories of previous encounters – elude texture to surfaces.
  • Form: Use of 2d, 3d or 4d on whole objects or very subtly on edges, slivers of the whole object to change the form of the image.
  • Lighting: use of high or low contrast.
  • Style: use of classic, traditional, modern or contemporary styles to appeal to the intended market and to meet the desired goal.

2. Consistency
this is the ultimate marker of ‘getting it right’ for brands. Consistency in tone, look, application and visual is the ‘true north’ for brands. It marks the fact that proper assessments and analysis of the same were conducted from the very beginning of brand development and this map is what is in use to guide brand direction. Consistency is integral for brand relatability and identification with audiences.

3. Flexibility
A brand needs to constantly realign itself to changing market needs as well as to the Company’s changing goals and objectives. It needs to be able to listen to what its customers are saying and not saying to formulate a more effective way to communicate and listen and meet needs.

Designers are tasked with creating high impact visual experiences, over and over. Good ideas must be executed in a uniquely memorable way to truly leave a mark. Getting there, though, is a journey. And it requires constantly making things better, bringing something new and engaging into the world. Clients approach us with problems that require visually creative solutions: start-ups need a branded visual voice; established companies need new websites that align more with their current needs and goals; organizations launch campaigns that must excite the viewer at every point of interaction—the design challenge grows!

How to have a more productive 2016 – understanding the workforce part I

If you have a stake in any business, your focus is always on how to grow the business. You spend time and money examining and re-examining your business model, trying to maximize on its strengths while mitigating its weaknesses at all times.

So you recruit a team to work with you in building the business because – its success means that everyone is gaining. Because you have hired skilled personnel, you imagine that it will be easy to work out the profit dynamics vs. timelines and beat the money making obstacles. You therefore hold meetings with your staff, discuss these details and come up with strategies that everyone feels that they can commit to working towards.

At the end of the month, the hours worked don’t correspond with the expected outputs and the to-do’s appear to be piling up with a client in vs. client not out ratio that is alarming. This in turn affects cash flow and everyone is unhappy especially the business owners.

This is every small business owner’s dilemma:

  1. High staff turnover – because the work is ‘too much’ , ‘too hard’, or the team is unable to self-motivate and requires a lot of supervision and micro management
  2. Unmet deadlines – poor planning and prioritizing of tasks,
  3. No team spirit – The individual staff have a ME FIRST approach to work thus there is no synergy within team to maximize efficiency and productivity by complementing one another’s efforts.
  4. Social media addiction – perpetual socializing on all social media platforms at the expense of productivity at work
  5. Lack of discipline – the list of incomplete tasks is perpetually growing

We spent time trying to understand why the items in the list were so consistent for many businesses and discovered why. You see, today’s workforce falls into four distinct categories:

  1. The Baby boomers
  2. Generation X
  3. Generation Y/ The Millennials
  4. Generation Z

5 design terms everyone needs to know

Learning the design lingo is important for everyone because it helps everyone appreciate the design process. It is crucial to know what you are dealing with same way it’s important to know what you are buying when in a supermarket. Knowing the rules of the shop also helps make the design process smoother and you are able to appreciate each step during the progression of the design process. In the same way we carry our visa cards to the supermarket and don’t expect discounts for purchases, it is crucial to understand the perimeters within which design operates.

  1. Design brief

A creative brief is the core of the client service process and may lead to the success or failure of the creative output. The creative brief is a descriptive document that containing information about the client, what they do, how they do it and explains their requirements for the project. Our briefing process is aimed at collecting comprehensive information from the client in order to eliminate any ambiguities in the design process. We always urge our clients to take this step very seriously and not address it hurriedly in a bid to ‘get to the fun part’ because it is the basis of the entire project. It tells the story of the project – why it is to be undertaken and provides a strategic foundation on how it is to be undertaken and for whom it is intended.

It is this strategic input that enables us to provide an effective design solution to the clients business and not merely a decorative art piece.

  1. Design scope

The scope outlines the general aims and goals of the project design and lists the major deliverables and milestones.  Project scope management plan is a planning tool that documents how the project team will go about defining project scope, how the work breakdown structure will be developed, how changes to scope will be controlled, and how the work of the project will be verified and accepted. This document is important because it keeps everyone on their proverbial ‘side of the fence’. It contains the following crucial elements:

  • The project scope statement contains a detailed description of the project deliverables.
  • A process for creating the work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS further defines the work of the project (as defined in the scope statement) by breaking down the deliverables into smaller pieces of work.
  • A definition of how the deliverables will be verified for accuracy and the process used for accepting deliverables.
  • A description of the process for controlling scope change requests, including the procedure for requesting changes and how to obtain a change request form.


  1. Logo vs. Brand

According to creative bloq, a great logo works as a reminder of a company or product, for designers they represent the challenge of encapsulating a client’s essence into a single graphic.

What a logo design isn’t, though, is branding. While the logo is usually the stand-out part of a brand, there’s much more to branding than a logo. A good brand identity is carefully built out of a number of elements, and the logo will reflect these elements and work within the brand system.

But creating or refreshing a brand can be a massive undertaking, involving a deep understanding of the brand’s personality, how it’s perceived, its history and function and much more.

  1. Resolution: DPI vs. PPI

Resolution is a measure of dots per inch (DPI) for printed works and pixels per inch (PPI) for digital work. If the resolution of an image is too low, your final product will come out looking grainy or pixelated. Even if you’re smart phone shoots 41 megapixels, trust your designer if he or she says the image won’t work (Rebecca Swift).

  1. Typography

This is the art of using typefaces to communicate. This skill encompasses both the typefaces and the negative space surrounding them. Typeface research is a process that takes up a lot of time during the design especially of logos and brands because the font selected sets the ‘mood’ and ‘feel’ for your brand.

You will want to know something about fonts because the two convey different feelings. Serif fonts have a line crossing the ending of a stroke and are sometimes described as having “wings” and “tips.” Serif fonts like Times New Roman make printed materials easier to read but can be difficult to read in online body copy.


Masaku Sevens it can only get better

All the commentary on the Masaku Sevens made us casually look into it and see what went right and what went wrong.

The hypothesis was that it was a rugby tourney and there would be a big party afterwards. The event was sponsored by Tusker. There was to be two tonnes of free nyama choma. All were welcome.

What happened seems to us to be the following: The event was way over subscribed and too many people headed to Machakos, too many showed up. Most were headed to Machakos for the after party and not the actual rugby. A few people decided to cut loose which offended many people, including John Mututho who threatened to cancel the event.

Clearly Masaku Sevens needs a lot of polishing, but, plenty of Kenyans want to be involved and be part of it – the organisers will need to improve a lot…

For us though, the biggest most important thing that needs to be improved is the actual event branding. The event’s logo is the following:


Clearly the event relies heavily on sponsors so the logo fails on many levels, ranging from brandability to simplicity.

We spent a little while coming up with something simple that can work on uniforms and can work very well with sponsor brands as well.

Have a look:

Masaku Sevens Logo 1-01

With sponsor logos:

Masaku Sevens Logo 1-02

Masaku Sevens Logo 1-03

Masaku Sevens Logo 1-04

Masaku Sevens Logo 1-05


Compared to the old logo:

Masaku Sevens Logo 1-06

Thanks for reading.

By Job Ballard

Where is the president? Look for the Presidential Standard

We took on the project of redesigning the President’s Standard – a flag raised when the President is in the vicinity.

The previous standards we have had in Kenya look like this:

Mzee standard 1

President Kenyatta’s Standard from 1963 to 1970.

Mzee standard 2

President Kenyatta then had his Standard redesigned to look like the above, this stayed with him until his death in 1978.


President Moi had the above standard from 1978 to 2002.


President Kibaki followed with the above until 2013.


The current standard looks like the above.

The president has too much content on his flag, the acknowledgement and respect due his father in the use of so many similar elements is noted, but, this can be done a fresh way, a way that reflects the spirit of his “digital” nation and its aspirations.

We developed the following motto and used it as the basis to develop President Uhuru’s new Standard: With a solid foundation, any dream can be realised.

The simple motto covers a lot, it acknowledges Mzee Kenyatta’s huge role in President Uhuru’s and indeed Kenya’s past. It also, however, embraces the dreams of Kenyans who everyday wake up to chase their dreams.

The Standard we developed owns this history in a unique yet clear manner while acknowledging the President’s new role as the custodian of the dreams of Kenyans through the use of the symbol Kenyans used to show who they charged custodian of these dreams, the TNA dove.

The whisk represents President Uhuru’s lineage and his raising. The dove peeking from behind the whisk represents the President’s journey from under his father’s shadow to create his own vision for his future and that for Kenya.



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