NB Studio and Michael Wolff design “friendly” visual identity for health start-up

mPharma aims to make medication more widely available – and at cheaper prices – across pharmacies in all areas of Africa.

NB Studio and Michael Wolff have created the visual identity for health start-up mPharma and its people-facing brand, Mutti.

The project includes a logomark, strapline, website design as well as brand guidelines. The identity also rolls out across a wide range of physical products, from lapel pins to shop fronts.

mPharma was started by Gregory Rockson. Through its “smart inventory management solutions”, it keeps pharmacies and hospitals well-stocked in Africa. By negotiating with pharmaceutical companies – which could be wary that their products might not be bought – mPharma also aims to negotiate cheaper prices.

It claims that this set-up has helped 100,000 patients save on high-quality medicines. Rockson, who was raised in Ghana and studied in the US, was inspired by the shortage of medicines available, particularly in rural areas of Africa.


Design process

The design process took place in Ghana itself, as Wolff and designers from NB Studio visited mPharma and saw how it worked.

The starting point for the identity came from an idea of health, which led to the strapline: ‘In Good Health’. This can be seen on the website, as well as in locations like the company’s office.

Next came the “very simple” logo, which takes the form of a flower. Wolff tells Design Week that this emerged from an “expression of taking care of someone”. It has a “human quality of wishing someone well”.

Wolff says that the colour palette is a reaction to pharmaceutical companies’ traditional use of “clinical blue”. The orange and yellow connotes “sunny” feelings, which is more appropriate to mPharma and Mutti’s messaging, he says.

“The way mPharma builds relationships with pharmacies and the general public needed something warmer,” he adds.

Flower illustrations have also been used, on the side of a van and printed material, which keep in line with the brand’s logomark. A hand drawn version strap line has been used for this “friendly” feel.

Studio NB creative director Alan Dye tells Design Week that a “simple” book of guidelines has also been created. This will be important as the company scales up, especially as it will be working at such a distance from the London-based design team and often in rural African locations.

Dye says that the company has implemented these guidelines quickly, and it’s been important in creating a more uniform image for the brand. It’s especially important for creating a more “competent” look for the physical locations, so that the pharmacies have a more professional feel. The logomark is easy to apply across the identity, like as a lap pin for a medical professional to wear.

The website has been developed by the experience design studio, Else.


Coronavirus

Dye says that the work with mPharma is ongoing, though the coronavirus pandemic has put this on hold. Once it begins again, there are discussions to create a uniform design for a chain of pharmacies so that it falls under mPharma’s brand identity.

However, the company itself is busy. Its goal during the pandemic is to make every hospital in Africa have capacity to test for COVID-19. The company has been re-purposing private labs in Ghana into testing centres.

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