Ethiopia’s Worthy Trademarks

Big, modern, indigenous trademarks are scarce in Ethiopia.

This may not come as a surprise knowing that a free-market should first be in place for those kinds of trademarks to flourish – a challenge Ethiopia is still grappling with.

But the following trademarks are way-out, they’re worthy of note. They are the smartest, well-reasoned, and versatile trademarks representing the nation’s biggest and critical sectors. And owing to the country’s recent history of state-monopoly, all of these brands are state-owned.

Let’s start with the recently rebranded EthioTelecom, the sole telecommunication service provider in the country. The brand had undergone major makeover when the management of the company was given to the French company, France Telecom back in 2010.

ethiotelecomThe new logotype (the ‘e’) and its color scheme are elegant and fresh with comprehensive & coherent branding strategy. The rebranding was outsourced to another French company called 8 Bis Agency.

Unfortunately, the services of EthioTelecom are not on a par with its superb visual makeovers, and the company is currently overwhelmed with complaints of epic proportions.

To make matters worse, even the one thing that the corporation got right – this very visual makeover – was suddenly called off a year ago. According to the country’s Information and Communication Minister, the logotype neither fully expresses the company nor the country’s situation and what’s more, a similar logotype is found outside of Ethiopia.

Perhaps the Minister is right in that it is undeserved for his shabby telecom to have such a world-class logotype. What’s lame though is a year has passed since that announcement and a new trademark is nowhere in sight. (SMIRK)

etNext comes the largest state-owned enterprise, Ethiopian Airlines (EAL). Ethiopian Airlines is by far the most worldwide-recognized brand Ethiopia has ever had, and Ethiopians never get tired to be proud of it.

The EAL trademark had its decent makeovers a couple of times, the last one being some 10 years ago. The flag-carrier’s current look is inline with contemporary “voluptuous designs”, with the logo-icon stylishly made to resemble a feather.

Even though it has proved difficult to know who first designed the EAL brand, there is a good reason to believe it could be the work of Young and Rubicam, a renowned advertising agency in the United States, who had the account of Trans World Airlines (TWA) – the airline that was commissioned by the US government to setup Ethiopian Airlines.

etvA similar information dearth limits us from fully appreciating the next big Ethiopian brand – the identity of the sole national television station, ETV. Not only of this non-transparency, the logo of ETV have been modified so many times over the years, it is even difficult to get hold of its original look.

However, we have all grounds to suppose that this well-presented logo-icon — an abstract rendition of an antenna on top of a hut — could be the work of Thomson, the British firm that helped establish the TV station back in 1964.

The quality of that station is, however, disgraceful to say the least. Really, much of the nonsense that goes on in that nation can be attributed to the retarding programs of that TV channel. If change doesn’t come ETV’s way soon, its death would.

Finally, to the rare branding success-story of the recent past, the trademark of Ethiopian Fine Coffee. This trade is designed by a UK brand agency called Brandhouse. The agency stated on their case study that they needed “to reflect Ethiopia’s new-found optimism and hope”.

etcoffeeThe result was the re-evaluation of Ethiopian coffee that saw exports increase by $200 million since June 2007.

According to an old post by the Poor Farmer Coffee Politics blog, Ethiopia had in fact decided few years ago to create a modern corporation to manage the Ethiopian Fine Coffee brands, promotions, and the network of distributors for the long-term benefit of farmers, exporter and distributors. The blog detailed that this corporation will be built on the lines of the famous and highly successful Ethiopian Airlines, starting in 2011 with top Ethiopian business people on the formation board.

And do you know any other big, Ethiopian brands that are worthy of note?  Please, share us your thoughts.


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