Brand creation: Arifu, faces of Africa

A group of Finnish friends wanted to start a charity to help the refugees of Kongo. The initial idea was to distribute malaria medicine. I helped the not-for-profit to identify what made it unique and find a name and and a slogan that would send out the right message.


Discovering the DNA

As you can imagine, there are thousands of other organizations out there wanting to bring aid to Africa. The distribution of malaria medicine is a purpose shared by most of them. The biggest challenge for us, then, was to identify what made this initiative unique.

Optimistically believing that there was going to be something that would differentiate this initiative from the rest, we started the journey by conducting several in-depth interviews with the founders. At the same time we undertook our own not-for-profit sector analysis.

One of the charity's founders had an idea of fundraising for the charity via popular culture. This included organizing music gigs at bars and restaurants to publishing novels, poems and even shooting a short documentary movie. The idea was that all the writers, singers or actors could be the African refugees themselves.

What made the charity distinctive wasn't the initial end-goal; it was its means of getting there. After establishing this as the Unique Selling Proposition, the brand building process was in a flow. The purpose of the charity starded to evolve: having realized how many not-for-profits already specialize on malaria medication, the founders felt they could produce much more value by simply giving a voice to the average African. Although helping the refugees of Kongo had been their initial motive, the founders also now saw much more scope for their operations.

The vision became crystalized: the charity wanted to become known as an empowering platform on which the African refugees could express themselves – and be heard. The values empowerement, honesty, openness and creativity came to life.


Giving it life

After learning what the charity's DNA consisted of and what made it distinctive, the next challenge was to find a memorable name and a slogan that would express the right values and simultaneously position the brand uniquely.

We finally came across the word Arifu, which is the stem form of the verbs "publish" and "inform" in Swahili, a language spoken across Africa. After piloting the word cross-cultures and checking its availability, all parties felt it was the right name for the charity. The empowering slogan, faces of Africa, was designed to underpin the brand strategy.

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