DutchScot puts contemporary spin on Rwandan art for African start-up Oku

dutchscot puts contemporary spin on rwandan art for african start-up oku

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An adaptable logo takes centre stage in Oku’s visual identity from the London-based studio.
DutchScot studio has designed the brand identity for Oku with a pattern inspired by art techniques local to Rwanda.
Oku is a new venture which pairs African entrepreneurs with Swiss expertise to facilitate mentorships, experience and networking opportunities. Its programme aims to enable tech-savvy African entrepreneurs to accelerate their future businesses.
The studio attempt to incorporate Oku’s dual heritage – it is based in both Rwanda and Zurich – into the branding. This connection is first visible through the two clocks on the website, showing the time in both Zurich, Switzerland, and Kigali, Rwanda.
Given the multiple networks that Oku comprises, one of the aims was to convey a “simple but charming message” through “striking graphic language”, according to DutchScot.
Another challenge for the studio was avoiding a cliched African feel, explains DutchScot partner and creative director Alex Swatridge. She adds, “Thankfully, the brand had already identified the potential pitfall of doing something cliched or generic and had an interesting reference to an African artist they liked.”
In the local African dialect, oku means bridge, which the studio used as a starting point. From this, the design team came up with the idea to rotate the K in attempt to illustrate a bridge within the logo. This is meant to demonstrate the bridge between both talent and industry and Africa and the West, according to the designers.
Adaptability is also a focus of the logo, as the letters can be reorganised to create icons that communicate various aspects of the business: connections, mentorship, and entrepreneurs. DutchScot says its intention was to draw inspiration from Rwanda in a contemporary way.
The visuals took inspiration from imigongo, a Rwandan art form, which Swatridge calls  “very graphic and geometric”. The colour palette is also derivative of this movement.
Earthy terracotta tones appear across the branding, which is meant to represent Rwandan clay soil. “This is the antithesis of the RGB in-your-face colour palettes we see associated with a lot of ‘tech’ brands,” Swatridge adds.
The new branding roll out across the Oku website, business cards, and communications.
What do you think of Oku’s branding? Let us know in the comments below.

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