Q&A: Evans Akanno Founder on Nigeria’s Creative Industry, Design Agency Journey

Q&A: Evans Akanno Founder on Nigeria’s Creative Industry, Design Agency Journey

Having an idea and funds to start a project is no longer enough; there is need for a bridge that will connect the service provider to the target audience. In Nigeria, many new start-ups are unable to gain much traction due to their inability to properly present business models and get fully established in the market. These are issues that a good creative design agency such as Evans Akanno could help with.

Before becoming the leading creative design agency in Nigeria, Evans Akanno started small, which is why it continues to support small companies. The founder — also named Evans Akanno — said he started designing the popular display pictures (DPs) for Nigerian Blackberry users which later went viral. By being able to show his skills in graphic design, he was able to attract followers and gain popularity on the popular BlackBerry Messenger service.

With this achievement, he decided to start a company — which today has an impressive clientele and includes several local and international brands including DStv. In this exclusive AFKInsider interview, Akanno spoke extensively on the art of creative design, the peculiarity of the Nigerian market and his company’s achievements.

AFKInsider:  Your company is known to propel businesses through generating marketing campaigns and resources. How did it start?

Evans Akanno started off as a small freelance gig. I was in my service year and designed display pictures for friends on BBM and had my pin as a signature on these designs. This evolved into designing for small ventures since these “DPs” easily go viral. It was the best way for me to exercise my design skills, which I had overlooked through my university days studying Industrial Chemistry. As my design popularity grew on BBM, I realized it was time to go corporate. I registered the business name, designed my first website and gradually changed the name to Evans Akanno Creative Design Agency.

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AFKInsider: What previous experiences have you had working in this sector?

In 2012, around the time I went corporate with my design work, I got a job at Rocket Internet (Kasuwa.com), now Jumia.com as a graphic designer. I also landed my first big client, DStv. I managed the designs for most of their marketing campaigns. With the transition from Kasuwa to Jumia, my role evolved into brand strategist and social media specialist. My skills in internet marketing grew pretty fast as work was challenging as well as the growing clients of the agency. I later moved on to Konga.com as the creative strategist — I also have several personal projects like Zegist.com, an online magazine for fashion, technology and lifestyle.

AFKInsider: What is your view on the current status of the creative marketing industry in Nigeria?

Nigeria is rising; internet popularity is rising, so also the importance of the creative marketing industry is coming to the forefront. There is still a lot we can achieve as an industry, but the signs are certainly good.

AFKInsider: How do you think the sector has evolved over the years?

The creative marketing industry comprises of a diverse number of market sub-sectors, from art, design, music, fashion and publishing to computer games, the performing arts, film, TV and radio. In recent years, technological development has led to the increase in input of individuals and corporate bodies. Before now, the media sector was restricted to newspapers, TV, radio and the outdoor advertising. These days smaller business can afford to have an impressive presence with the incidence of online advertising, email marketing, social media and blogging.

AFKInsider: Internet and technology are interwoven, what are the positive and negative impacts they’ve had on the industry?

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. On the good side, the internet exposes everyone to tools – tutorials, software and reviews that support creativity. On the other hand, technology and internet have come with privacy issues, which have extended to the industry.

AFKInsider: Briefly mention your previous and current works; which businesses have you helped thus far?

I have worked with global media content creators DStv on projects like the AMVCA, Multichoice anniversary, launch of different packages like African Magic Yoruba, etc.
I have also worked with several offline and online companies/websites like Suregifts, Numbers, Diasporan Wazobia, APost, Bakes n’ Treats, and more. From offline to online businesses, Evans Akanno Creative Agency has been able to power Nigerian businesses with innovative offerings in design and online marketing that have set them apart in their respective industries.