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Diageo rethinks design for Africa

News, 28 March 2016
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AFRICA: Diageo is revising its approach to design in Africa at the same time as commentators observe a shift in consumer sentiment towards local brands.

According to Kerrin Lumsden, design leader/global brands at Diageo, the drinks giant is "investing more thinking time, more money and more in design to bring to life beautiful looking packs which appeal to our customers in these markets".

One reason for that is the growing number of middle class consumers which has meant tightening up a design approach that, he admitted to The Drum, had previously been "a bit hit and miss".

Another may be the rise of the African brand. In MarkLives, Johannesburg marketer Lynne Gordon highlighted the phenomenon of the Sho't Left – "African by design, closer to home, and uniquely our own".

A McKinsey report from last year, for example, found that only 11% of South Africans agreed that international brands were preferable to local brands and Gordon suggested that the demand for African brands — or global brands embracing African insights — is only going to grow.

And Diageo is successfully fulfilling the second of these for at least one of its brands. "Guinness looks, feels and acts African in every respect," said Gordon of its Made of Black campaign.

This "showcases Africa's unique creativity … The brand has also partnered meaningfully with local artists, designers and musicians across Africa to provide a platform for their work".

More generally, Lumsden felt that Diageo's design approach was now "a lovely hybrid of understanding local cultures and local influences and the expertise we have as global branding design people.

"We've hopefully changed people's perception of what design should be for African brands," he said, adding that other markets and regions were looking to learn from their work.

Data sourced from The Drum, MarkLives; additional content by Warc staff

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