KIRUKU: Logos, emblems and colours: Here’s how to win hearts

KIRUKU: Logos, emblems and colours: Here’s how to win hearts

The new emblem and brand logo being developed by the East African Community Secretariat – as directed by the Council of Ministers – is a great effort that could serve to deepen regional integration. Indeed, the emblem may well become a common and unique identifier for all the regional organisation’s Organs and Institutions.

The Community has been criticised for lacking clearly defined branding; while some of its institutions have adopted the EAC logo, others have developed their own unique identities. This lack of harmony has created an imbalance in the Secretariat’s publicity efforts.

Still, the EAC logo has been criticised for lacking a visual connection between three key Organs –the EAC Secretariat, the East African Legislative Assembly and the East African Court of Justice – and the regional body’s eight Institutions.

Developing one primary colour and one secondary colour, as well as a single visual emblem, is important in enhancing common brand architecture.

As the EAC embarks on sensitization workshops for the youth on the EAC Brand Architecture, it is paramount to ensure that students are encouraged to come up with a logo that will represent the key values of the Community as well as unite the six partner states, including South Sudan.

The logo should convey the unity of purpose for the partner states as our identity. Its design should reflect the personality of East Africans, their attitude, their sense of style and cultural diversities.

It is crucial for the Secretariat to come up with a logo that will provide a solid foundation of the Community’s visual identity. Many people may not remember the full names of the Community, but may identify and remember the EAC through a visual identity. A logo is easier to remember than a name.

But even as the EAC Secretariat works on the logo to enhance the branding of the Community, it must ensure real unity among the people themselves is enhanced, especially those living along the borders.

At this time in point, it is worth reminding the EAC Secretariat of a grand EAC branding Survey in 2013, funded by the GIZ, and went to all then five partner states (and remote areas) with questionnaires and came out stunning disclosure that over 80 per cent of the population do not know about the Community and even its symbols. If I can recall properly, the branding survey teams were led by than Media Expert in the EAC Office of Political Federation, a renowned East African Journalist, S.Chatbar.

Two months ago, there was tension along the Kenyan-Tanzania border as Kenyans protested alleged harassment by Tanzanian authorities. They lit tyres on the road, paralysing transport services, and threatened to eject all Tanzanian nationals living and working at the border town of Namanga if the harassment did not stop. On the other hand, Tanzania claimed that a number of Kenyans were working and living in Tanzania without valid documentation.

Perennial border conflict among pastoralists’ communities living along the borders in East Africa is commonplace. These conflicts arise due to strained resources – such as water and pasture for their livestock.

During the recent doctors’ strike in Kenya, the country’s government announced plans to employ doctors from Tanzania and Cuba, among other countries, a move that elicited heated debate and strong opposition from Kenyans.

It is unfortunate that more than 10 years after the Customs union protocol became effective – making the EAC a single customs territory – regional citizens are either ignorant of its existence or unaware of its benefits. Up to now, tariff and non-tariff barriers continue to frustrate the letter and spirit of the agreement.

Eight years after the EAC Common Market Protocol was signed, allowing for the free movement of goods, labour, services and capital, regional citizens are still embroiled in its applicability and existence.

Various studies and surveys conducted have shown that regional citizens are ignorant of the existence of the regional bloc, or even the gains and milestones resulting from regional integration. The gains of regional co-operation are therefore being underutilised due to ignorance among the citizens.

Even as the East African Community Secretariat works on the logo, it is therefore important to enhance civic education across the region to ensure citizens are updated on the gains of the Community and encouraged to harness the benefits of regional cooperation so as to improve their lives.

The notion that regional cooperation is presidents-led and state-owned must be ended. It is the duty of regional leaders to sell and share the story of regional integration with their countrymen. Regional citizens must be made to feel part and parcel of the Community if the milestones made are to bring forth the intended benefits.

The media must be at the centre of this battle to ensure the regional cooperation story is shared and sold to the citizens. Unfortunately, most regional journalists are also ignorant of the gains and milestones of regional cooperation.

It is therefore paramount for the EAC Secretariat, in collaboration with each EAC country’s Ministry for East African Community Affairs, to conduct intensive media sensitization workshops to ensure regional media personalities are updated on the milestones made by the Community.

An eye catching logo is as important as removing tariff and non-tariff barriers to enhance trade. A beautiful EAC logo without opening up borders is counterproductive.